King Donovan

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King Donovan
King Donovan as Jack in the trailer for Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Born (1918-01-25)January 25, 1918
Manhattan, New York City
New York, U.S.
Died June 30, 1987(1987-06-30) (aged 69)
Branford, New Haven County
Connecticut, U.S.
Cause of death Cancer
Years active 1948-1984
Spouse(s) Imogene Coca (m. 1960-1987, his death)

King Donovan (January 25, 1918 – June 30, 1987) was an American film, stage, and television actor, as well as a film and television director.

Acting work[edit]


His film acting work includes Jack in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers; a role later reprised by Jeff Goldblum in the 1978 version, Solly in The Defiant Ones, Joe Capper in Cowboy, Mack McGee in the original Angels in the Outfield, Major Collins in The Perfect Furlough, and an uncredited but recognizable role in Singin' in the Rain as Rod (head of the Publicity Department).


In 1948, Donovan appeared on Broadway in The Vigil.


Notable television roles include Jake Clampett (a deadbeat who mooches off the Clampetts) for two episodes of CBS's The Beverly Hillbillies, Blanche Morton's (Bea Benaderet's) brother Roger Baker on eight episodes of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show,[1] and Harvey Helm in a 17-episode stint on NBC's The Bob Cummings Show. Donovan also appeared in six episodes as Chris Norman of It's a Great Life, a sitcom with Frances Bavier, James Dunn and Michael O'Shea, which aired on NBC from 1954 to 1956. About this time, he also guest starred on Ray Bolger's ABC sitcom, Where's Raymond?[2] and the NBC sitcom, The People's Choice, with Jackie Cooper. He also guest starred on the David Janssen crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. He played Mark Dawson in the 1959 Maverick episode "Maverick Springs". He was also in Wanted: Dead or Alive in the 1959 episode "Bad Gun" as the gun dealer Sheridan Appleby, in which he tries to recover a defective pistol that he had sold to an outlaw. He and Steve McQueen rescue a kidnapped senator's daughter when the faulty firearm explodes in the face of the bad guy.[3]

Donovan guest starred as Paddy Britt in the 1960 episode "The Boy from Pittsburgh" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds and set in the 1840s. Child actor Tom Nolan was cast in the title role as Tommy Jones, a stowaway on the vessel, the Enterprise. In the story line, series lead character Grey Holden (McGavin) transports a box of diamonds, unknowing that a pickpocket has taken the gems and switched the contents of the box. Mona Freeman appeared in this episode as Louise Rutherford, a beautiful widow, with other roles for the character actors Francis De Sales and Robert Emhardt.[4]

In 1963, he played the part of Poke Tolliver in the episode "Incident of the Buryin' Man" on CBS's Rawhide. Between 1965 and 1967, Donovan had a recurring role as neighbor Herb---whose mission in life seemed to be getting from his house through the study window of professor Jim Nash in less than a full minute---on the situation comedy Please Don't Eat the Daisies.

Directing work[edit]

In 1963 Donovan directed the film Promises! Promises!, which received attention as the first sound film to feature a mainstream film star (Jayne Mansfield) nude. Later the same year Donovan directed two episodes of Grindl, which starred his wife Imogene Coca and two more the next year.


Donovan died of cancer on Tuesday, June 30, 1987, in the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, CT. Donovan married comedian Imogene Coca on October 17, 1960 and remained married to her until his death.


As an actor
Title Role Date Notes
Open Secret Fawnes, Bigot Gang Member 1948 film debut
Man from Texas Sam (mortgage officer) 1948
The Pilgrimage Play Salathiel 1949
Shockproof Joe Wilson (uncredited) 1949 first time Donovan played a character with a first and last name
Alias Nick Beal Peter Wolfe 1949 Donovan's highest billed role (7th) at the time
All the King's Men Reporter (uncredited) 1949 Won the Academy Award for Best Picture
Side Street Det. Gottschalk (uncredited) 1950
One Way Street Grieder 1950
Cargo to Capetown Sparky Jackson (uncredited) 1950 stars John Ireland, the star of Donovan's debut film
Mystery Street Reporter at Beach House (uncredited) 1950
A Lady Without Passport Surgeon (uncredited) 1950
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye Driver (uncredited) 1950
Right Cross Fifth Reporter (uncredited) 1950
The Sun Sets at Dawn Reporter, National News Service 1950
Storm Warning Ambulance Driver (uncredited) 1951 starred future president Ronald Reagan
The Enforcer Sgt. Whitlow 1951
The Great Missouri Raid Witness (uncredited) 1951
Three Guys Named Mike Willy (uncredited) 1951
The Redhead and the Cowboy Munroe 1951
The Scarf Piano Player 1951
Little Bighorn Pvt. James Corbo 1951
The Prince Who Was a Thief Merat (uncredited) 1951
Take Care of My Little Girl Cab Driver (uncredited) 1951
His Kind of Woman Reporter (uncredited) 1951
Behave Yourself! Lingerie Shop Manager (uncredited) 1951
Angels in the Outfield Mack McGee 1951 First Donovan film to be remade. First time Donovan appeared in a film trailer.
Come Fill the Cup Kip Zunches 1951
The Unknown Man News Photographer on Courthouse Steps (uncredited) 1951
Something to Live For Stage Manager (uncredited) 1952
Singin' in the Rain Rod (uncredited) 1952 Although his role is uncredited it is recognizable. Film voted best musical of the century and fifth best film of the century by AFI.
Glory Alley Telephone Technician (uncredited) 1952
Sally and Saint Anne Hymie Callahan (uncredited) 1952
The Merry Widow Nitki (uncredited) 1952
The Magnetic Monster Dr. Dan Forbes 1953
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms Dr. Ingersoll 1953
Riders to the Stars James O'Herli 1954
Invasion of the Body Snatchers Jack Belicec 1956
Cowboy Joe Capper 1957 -

Donovan filmed scenes for an undetermined role in the 1949 film I Was a Male War Bride, but his scenes were deleted.

As director
Title Date Notes
Promises! Promises! 1963 First sound film to feature a mainstream film star (Jayne Mansfield) nude. Only film Donovan ever directed.
Grindl (4 episodes) 1963–1964 Series starred Donovan's wife, Imogene Coca.
That Girl (1 episode) 1968


External links[edit]