Frank Sully

Last updated

Frank Sully
Frank Sully in Let's Go Collegiate.jpg
Frank Sully in Let's Go Collegiate (1941)
Francis Thomas Sullivan

(1908-06-17)June 17, 1908
DiedDecember 17, 1975(1975-12-17) (aged 67)
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Long Beach, California
Years active1928–1968

Francis Thomas Sullivan[ citation needed ] (June 17, 1908[ citation needed ] December 17, 1975), known professionally as Frank Sully, was an American film actor. He appeared in over 240 films between 1934 and 1968. Today's audiences know him best as the dumb detective in the Boston Blackie features, and as the foil in many Three Stooges comedies.



After working on the vaudeville stage,[ citation needed ] Sully entered the film industry in 1934. He played small parts and bits for several years at various studios, usually as tough guys. Gradually he was cast in higher-budgeted features, including Another Thin Man (1939) where Sully plays one of Nick Charles's streetwise pals, and John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940) with Sully cast as Noah Joad, whose family treks across America for a new life.

Sully's first major role came in 1941 for Monogram Pictures, a "budget" studio that often gave opportunities to ambitious actors. [1] In the Frankie Darro campus comedy Let's Go Collegiate , Sully was featured as a dumb truck driver recruited to masquerade as a star athlete. The role gave Sully good exposure, and the actor received excellent notices. The Exhibitor noted that "Sully takes acting honors, with Darro, (Keye) Luke, and (Jackie) Moran very good in their roles." [2]

In 1942 Sully signed with Columbia Pictures. The studio had a company policy of casting its contract players in as many films as possible, regardless of class or budget, and Sully kept busy in dozens of Columbia's feature films, series comedies, westerns, and short subjects. When the studio's series of Boston Blackie comedy-mysteries needed a new sidekick for detective inspector Farraday (Richard Lane), Sully was recruited and remained in the role of the slow-witted "Matthews" until the end of the series in 1949.

In 1943 Sully began working in Columbia's two-reel comedy unit, where he remained a familiar presence off and on through 1957. [3] He supported star comedians Hugh Herbert, Vera Vague, Slim Summerville, Wally Vernon and Eddie Quillan, Joe Besser, and most memorably The Three Stooges. Sully is featured in such Stooge comedies as Fling in the Ring , Pardon My Backfire , and Guns a Poppin! . He is most prominent in A Merry Mix Up as the bewildered waiter who thinks he's seeing triple; Sully also narrates the film.


In addition to his film work, Sully also had bit parts in several television shows. Credits include Maverick , The Alfred Hitchcock Hour , Leave It to Beaver , I Love Lucy and The Beverly Hillbillies and "Charley" on Topper . Sully also had a recurring role as Danny the bartender on The Virginian .


Sully died on December 17, 1975, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital. [4] He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Long Beach, California.[ citation needed ]

Selected filmography

Related Research Articles

Frank Faylen American actor (1905–1985)

Frank Faylen was an American film and television actor. Largely a bit player and character actor, he occasionally played more fleshed-out supporting roles during his forty-two year acting career, during which he appeared in some 223 film and television productions, often without credit.

Dick Elliott American actor (1886–1961)

Richard Damon Elliott was an American character actor who played in over 240 films from the 1930s until the time of his death.

Frank Jenks American actor (1902–1962)

Frank Jenks was an acid-voiced American supporting actor of stage and films.

Ben Welden American actor (1901–1997)

Ben Welden was an American character actor who played a wide variety of Damon Runyon-type gangsters in various movies and television shows.

Murray Alper American actor

Murray Alper was an American actor. He appeared in numerous television series, films, and Broadway productions.

Tom Kennedy (actor) American actor (1885–1965)

Thomas Aloyisus Kennedy was an American actor known for his roles in Hollywood comedies from the silent days, with such producers as Mack Sennett and Hal Roach, mainly supporting lead comedians such as the Marx Brothers, W. C. Fields, Mabel Normand, Shemp Howard, Laurel and Hardy, and the Three Stooges. Kennedy also played dramatic roles as a supporting actor.

Alan Bridge American actor (1891–1957)

Alfred Morton Bridge was an American character actor who played mostly small roles in over 270 films between 1931 and 1954. Bridge's persona was an unpleasant, gravel-voiced man with an untidy moustache. Sometimes credited as Alan Bridge, and frequently not credited onscreen at all, he appeared in many westerns, especially in the Hopalong Cassidy series, where he played crooked sheriffs and henchmen.

William Haade American actor

William Haade was an American film actor. He appeared in more than 250 films between 1937 and 1957. He was born in New York City and died in Los Angeles, California.

Harry Tenbrook was an American film actor.

Frank Orth American actor (1880–1962)

Frank Orth was an American actor born in Philadelphia. He is probably best remembered for his portrayal of Inspector Faraday in the 1951-1953 television series Boston Blackie.

Edward Gargan American actor (died 1964)

Edward Gargan was an American film and television actor, one of the most prolific bit players in the history of film.

James Burke (actor) American actor (1886–1968)

James Michael Burke was an Irish-American film and television character actor born in New York City.

Ralph Dunn American actor (1900–1968)

Ralph Dunn was an American film, television, and stage actor.

Dick Wessel American actor (1913–1965)

Richard Michael Wessel was an American film actor who appeared in more than 270 films between 1935 and 1966. He is best remembered for his only leading role, a chilling portrayal of strangler Harry "Cueball" Lake in Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946), and for his appearances as comic villains opposite The Three Stooges.

Max Wagner American actor

Max Wagner was a Mexican-born American film actor who specialized in playing small parts such as thugs, gangsters, sailors, henchmen, bodyguards, cab drivers and moving men, appearing more than 400 films in his career, most without receiving screen credit. In 1927, he was a leading witness in the well-publicized manslaughter trials of actor Paul Kelly and actress/screenwriter Dorothy Mackaye.

Paul Newlan American actor (1903–1973)

Paul Emory Newlan was an American film and TV character actor from Plattsmouth, Nebraska. He was best known for his role as Captain Grey on the NBC police series M Squad and for his roles in films including The Americanization of Emily and The Slender Thread.

William Newell (actor) American actor

William M. Newell was an American film actor.

Frank Marlowe American character actor (1904–1964)

Frank Marlowe, also known as Frank Riggi and Frank Marlo, was an American character actor from the 1930s until the 1960s. During Marlowe's 30-year career he would appear in over 200 feature films, as well as dozens of television shows.

Paul Bryar American actor (1910–1985)

Paul Bryar was an American actor. In a career spanning nearly half a century, he appeared in numerous films and television series.

Joe Devlin (actor) American actor (1894–1973)

Joe Devlin was an American actor. He appeared in numerous films and TV series from the 1930s to the 1960s.


  1. Scott MacGillivray, Laurel & Hardy: From the Forties Forward. Second edition: New York: iUniverse, 2009, p. 194. ISBN   978-1440172397.
  2. The Exhibitor, Oct. 1. 1941, p. 862.
  3. Ted Okuda with Edward Watz, The Columbia Comedy Shorts, McFarland, 1986, p. 237. ISBN   978-0786405770.
  4. "Frank Sully is dead". The Courier. Iowa, Waterloo. Associated Press. December 19, 1975. p. 8. Retrieved May 10, 2020 via