Donald Cook (actor)

Last updated
Donald Cook
Donald Cook Columbia promo.jpg
Cook in a 1936 publicity photo
Born(1901-09-26)September 26, 1901
DiedOctober 1, 1961(1961-10-01) (aged 60)
Resting place River View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon, U.S.
45°27′54″N122°40′23″W / 45.465°N 122.673°W / 45.465; -122.673
Alma mater University of Oregon [1]
Years active1926–1959
Frances Beranger
(m. 19301931)
Princess Gioia Tasca di Cuto
(m. 1937;his death 1961)
Relatives Ransom M. Cook (brother) [2]

Donald Cook (September 26, 1901 – October 1, 1961) was an American stage and film actor who had a prolific career in pre-Code Hollywood films and on Broadway. Cook is perhaps best known for his film roles in The Public Enemy (1931), Safe in Hell (1931), Baby Face (1933), and Viva Villa! (1934), as well as for his stage role as David Naughton in Claudia , which ran for a total of 722 performances on Broadway between 1941 and 1943. [3] He was the first actor to play Ellery Queen.



Cook was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, [1] and originally studied farming but later worked for a lumber company. Cook attended the University of Oregon. [1] One of his elder brothers was Ransom M. Cook, president of Wells Fargo Bank. [2] [4] He joined the Kansas Community Players and through this received an offer of stage work. He started screen work in "shorts" before going on to feature films.

Cook was known for his portrayal of Mike Powers in the film The Public Enemy . In 1935, Cook's starring role in the film "The Spanish Cape Mystery" made him the first actor in any medium to play fictional sleuth Ellery Queen. He played the role of Steve opposite Helen Morgan's Julie in the 1936 film adaptation of Show Boat , was one of the suspects in the Philo Vance mystery The Casino Murder Case, and starred as an heroic U.S. Immigrant Inspector of the Deporting Squad in the 1936 movie Ellis Island.

Cook made his Broadway debut in 1926 as Donn Cook in Seed of the Brute, and his New York theatrical career continued over the following three decades. His credits included a 1948 revival of Private Lives and the original 1951 Broadway run of The Moon Is Blue .

During his 1930 summer stock engagement at Elitch Theatre, Cook met and fell in love with Frances Beranger, another member of the company. “We were in love, and she urged me to go to Hollywood,” Cook said. “I did, and we were married when she returned to the coast from Denver.” The marriage lasted six months. However, “the prestige of my Elitch engagement helped me get my first Hollywood contract – with Warner Brothers.” [5]

Cook was married to Princess Gioia Tasca di Cuto, [6] from 1937 until his death (although they were legally separated at the time) [4] from a heart attack in New Haven aged 60, in the midst of rehearsals for Cook's new play, A Shot in the Dark, an adaptation of L'Idiote . [7] Walter Matthau took over Cook's leading role in the play following his death. [7]

Cook is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. [8]

For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Cook was honored with a Hollywood Walk of Fame star located at 1718 Vine Street. [9] [10]


1931 Unfaithful Terry Houston
1931 The Public Enemy Mike Powers
1931 Party Husband Horace Purcell
1931 Smart Money Nick's Second AccompliceUncredited
1931 Side Show Joe Palmer
1931 The Mad Genius Fedor Ivanoff
1931 Safe in Hell Carl Bergen
1932 Taxi! FerdinandUncredited
1932 The Man Who Played God Harold Van Adam
1932 The Heart of New York Milton
1932 The Trial of Vivienne Ware John Sutherland
1932 The Conquerors Warren Lennox
1932 Penguin Pool Murder Philip Seymour
1932 Frisco Jenny Dan Reynolds
1933 Private Jones Lt. John Gregg
1933 The Circus Queen Murder The Great Sebastian
1933 The Kiss Before the Mirror Maria's Lover
1933 Jennie Gerhardt Lester Kane
1933 The Woman I Stole Corew
1933 Baby Face Stevens
1933 Brief Moment Franklin Deane
1933 Fury of the Jungle "Lucky" Allen
1933 Fog Wentworth Brown
1933 The World Changes Richard Nordholm
1934 Long Lost Father Bill Strong
1934 The Ninth Guest Jim Daley
1934 Viva Villa! Don Felipe de Castillo
1934 Whirlpool Bob Andrews
1934 The Most Precious Thing in Life Bob Kelsey
1934 Jealousy Mark Lambert
1934 Fugitive Lady Jack Howard
1935 Behind the Evidence Ward Cameron
1935 The Night Is Young Toni Berngruber
1935 Gigolette Gregg Emerson
1935 The Casino Murder Case Lynn Llewellyn
1935 Motive for Revenge Barry Webster
1935 Murder in the Fleet Lt. Cmdr. David Tucker
1935 Here Comes the Band Don Trevor
1935 Ladies Love Danger Tom Lennox
1935 The Spanish Cape Mystery Ellery Queen
1935 Confidential FBI Agent Dave Elliott
1935 The Calling of Dan Matthews Frank Blair
1936 The Leavenworth Case Dr. Truman Harwell
1936 Ring Around the Moon Ross Graham
1936 The Girl from Mandalay Kenneth Grainger
1936 Show Boat Steve Baker
1936 Ellis Island Gary Curtis
1936 Can This Be Dixie? Longstreet Butler
1936 Beware of Ladies George Martin
1937 Two Wise Maids Bruce Arnold
1937 Circus Girl Charles Jerome
1944 Freedom Comes High The Captain Short film
1944 Murder in the Blue Room Steve
1944 Bowery to Broadway Dennis Dugan
1945 Here Come the Co-Eds Dean Larry Benson
1945 Patrick the Great Pat Donahue, Sr.
1945 Blonde Ransom Duke Randall
1950 Our Very Own Fred Macaulay
1951 Prudential Family Playhouse Tony Kenyon1 episode
1952 Lux Video Theatre Tad Bryson / Bruce Wallace / Roger1 episode
1959Too Young to Go SteadyTom Blake7 episodes, (final appearance)

Stage credits

Broadway [11]

Related Research Articles

Walter Matthau American actor and comedian

Walter Matthau was an American actor.

Paul Lukas Hungarian-American actor

Paul Lukas was a Hungarian actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and the first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his performance in the film Watch on the Rhine (1943), reprising the role he created on the Broadway stage.

Ralph Bellamy American actor (1904–1991)

Ralph Rexford Bellamy was an American actor whose career spanned 62 years on stage, film, and television. During his career, he played leading roles as well as supporting roles, garnering acclaim and awards, including a Tony Award for Best Dramatic Actor in Sunrise at Campobello and Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for The Awful Truth (1937).

Ralph Forbes English actor

Ralph Forbes was an English film and stage actor active in Britain and the United States.

Joseph Schildkraut Austrian-American actor

Joseph Schildkraut was an Austrian-American actor. He won an Oscar for his performance as Captain Alfred Dreyfus in the film The Life of Emile Zola (1937); later, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Otto Frank in the film The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) and a Primetime Emmy for his performance as Rabbi Gottlieb in a 1962 episode of the television series Sam Benedict.

George Bancroft (actor) American actor

George Bancroft was an American film actor, whose career spanned more than thirty years from 1925 to 1956. He was cast in many notable films alongside major film stars throughout his Hollywood years.

Sidney Blackmer American actor

Sidney Alderman Blackmer was an American Broadway and film actor active between 1914 and 1971, usually in major supporting roles.

Ona Munson American actress (1903–1955)

Ona Munson was an American film and stage actress. She starred in nine Broadway productions and 20 feature films in her career, which spanned over 30 years.

H. B. Warner English film and theatre actor

Henry Byron Warner was an English film and theatre actor. He was popular during the silent era and played Jesus Christ in The King of Kings. In later years, he successfully moved into supporting roles and appeared in numerous films directed by Frank Capra. Warner's most recognizable role to modern audiences is Mr. Gower in the perennially shown film It's a Wonderful Life, directed by Capra. He appeared in the original 1937 version of Lost Horizon as Chang, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Brian Aherne English actor

William Brian de Lacy Aherne was an English actor of stage, screen, radio and television, who enjoyed a long and varied career in Britain and the US.

William Gargan American actor (1905–1979)

William Dennis Gargan was an American film, television and radio actor. He was the 5th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967, and in 1941, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Joe in They Knew What They Wanted. He acted in decades of movies including parts in Follow the Leader, Rain, Night Flight, Three Sons, Isle of Destiny and many others. The role he was best known for was that of a private detective Martin Kane in the 1949–1952 radio-television series Martin Kane, Private Eye. In television, he was also in 39 episodes of The New Adventures of Martin Kane.

Tyrone Power Sr. English-born American stage and screen actor

Frederick Tyrone Edmond Power Sr. was an English-born American stage and screen actor, known professionally as Tyrone Power. He is now usually referred to as Tyrone Power Sr. to differentiate him from his son, actor Tyrone Power.

Hobart Bosworth American film actor

Hobart Van Zandt Bosworth was an American film actor, director, writer, and producer.

Ethel Clayton American actress

Ethel Clayton was an American actress of the silent film era.

William Collier Jr. American actor

William Collier Jr. was an American stage performer, producer, and a film actor who in the silent and sound eras was cast in no less than 89 motion pictures.

Donald Meek British actor

Thomas Donald Meek was a Scottish-American actor. He first performed publicly at the age of eight and began appearing on Broadway in 1903.

Ralph Morgan American actor (1883–1956)

Raphael Kuhner Wuppermann, known professionally as Ralph Morgan, was a Hollywood stage and film character actor, and the older brother of Frank Morgan.

George Arliss English actor, author, playwright, and filmmaker

George Arliss was an English actor, author, playwright, and filmmaker who found success in the United States. He was the first British actor to win an Academy Award – which he won for his performance as Victorian-era British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli in Disraeli (1929) – as well as the earliest-born actor to win the honour. He specialized in successful biopics (such as Disraeli, Voltaire, and Cardinal Richelieu, as well as light comedies (which included The Millionaire and A Successful Calamity.

Isobel Elsom British actress

Isobel Elsom was an English film, theatre, and television actress.

William Collier Sr. American actor, screenwriter and director

William Collier Sr., born William Morenus, was an American writer, director and actor.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Veteran actor dies". Reading Eagle. New Haven, Connecticut. October 2, 1961. p. 3. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Farewell Reunion Being Held at R. Cook Home". Santa Rosa Republican . 26 April 1934. p. 9. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  3. "Claudia". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Donald Cook, Stage Roue, Dies of Heart Attack". The Sacramento Bee . 2 October 1961. p. 8. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  5. 1931-, Borrillo, Theodore A. (2012). Denver's historic Elitch Theatre : a nostalgic journey (a history of its times). p. 162. ISBN   978-0-9744331-4-1. OCLC   823177622.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. Kelling, Vesta (6 July 1941). "'Leading Man of Our Time' Has 5 Wives, Stage Role and 3 Air Shows". Fort Worth Star-Telegram . p. 32. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  7. 1 2 Edelman, Rob; Kupferberg, Audrey. Matthau: A Life. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 131.
  8. Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3 ed. McFarland. p. 154.
  9. "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Donald Cook". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  10. "Donald Cook". Los Angeles Times. Hollywood Star Walk. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  11. "Donald Cook". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved January 11, 2016.