Harold George Bryant Davenport
January 19, 1866
Canton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||August 9, 1949 83) (aged|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Kensico Cemetery, Westchester County, New York City|
(m. 1893;div. 1896)
(m. 1896;died 1934)
|Parent(s)|| Edward Loomis Davenport |
Fanny Vining Davenport
Harold George Bryant Davenport (January 19, 1866 –August 9, 1949) was an American film and stage actor who worked in show business from the age of six until his death.  After a long and prolific Broadway career, he came to Hollywood in the 1930s, where he often played grandfathers, judges, doctors, and ministers. His roles include Dr. Meade in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Grandpa in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). Bette Davis once called Davenport "without a doubt [. . .] the greatest character actor of all time."  
Harry Davenport was born January 19, 1866,  in Canton, Pennsylvania, where his family lived during the holidays. He also grew up in Philadelphia. Harry came from a long line of stage actors; his father was thespian Edward Loomis Davenport and his mother, Fanny Vining Davenport, was an English actress   and a descendant of the renowned 18th-century Irish stage actor Jack Johnson. His sister was actress Fanny Davenport. 
He made his stage debut at the age of five in the play Damon and Pythias .  Davenport made his Broadway debut in The Voyage of Suzette (1894) and appeared there in numerous plays. 
Harry Davenport was one of the best-known and busiest "old men" in Hollywood films during the 1930s and 1940s. He started his film career at the age of 47, debuting in the 1913 silent short film Kenton's Heir. The next year, he starred in Fogg's Millions co-starring Rose Tapley. The film became the first in a series of silent comedy shorts.[ citation needed ] In addition, he also directed some silent features and many shorts between 1915 and 1917, including many of the films in the Mr. and Mrs. Jarr series. 
Harry Davenport played Dr. Meade in Gone with the Wind (1939). Some of his other film roles are a lone resident in a ghost town in The Bride Came C.O.D. (1942), filmed on location in Death Valley, and the aged Louis XI of France in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) with Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara and Cedric Hardwicke. He also had supporting roles in Alfred Hitchcock's thriller Foreign Correspondent (1940), William A. Wellman's western The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) and in Kings Row (1943) with Ronald Reagan. Davenport also played the grandfather of Judy Garland in Vincente Minnelli's classic Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and the great-uncle of Myrna Loy and Shirley Temple in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947). His last film, Frank Capra's Riding High (1950), was released after his death.
Harry Davenport appeared in over 160 films. Asked why he made so many films at his age, he replied:
I hate to see men of my age sit down as if their lives were ended and accept a dole. An old man must show that he knows his job and is no loafer. If he can do that, they can take their pension money and buy daisies with it. 
In 1913, he co-founded, along with actor Eddie Foy, the Actors' Equity Association, an American labor union for actors. The original organization, known as the White Rats, was spearheaded by Davenport. After a nine-month stretch, the actors' group united in defiance of the appalling treatment of actors by theater owners such as the Shubert family and David Belasco, among others, by refusing to appear on stage by striking. The actions of the association caused the closure of all the theatres on Broadway, the only exception being theaters owned by George M. Cohan's company.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source .(June 2017)
He and his wife Alice were wed in 1893. They had one daughter, Dorothy Davenport, who also became an actress. After divorcing Alice in 1896, he married actress Phyllis Rankin, that same year. They had three biological children: Ned, Ann, and Kate, who all became actors. Harry also adopted Phyllis's son, Arthur Rankin (actor father of Arthur Rankin, Jr., founder of the Rankin/Bass animation studio).  Actress Anne Seymour (born Anne Seymour Eckert) and her brother, radio personality Bill Seymour, were Harry Davenport's great-niece and great-nephew by their mother, May Davenport.
Through his marriage to Phyllis, he was the brother-in-law of Lionel Barrymore, who was married at the time to Phyllis' sister Doris. Phyllis's father, McKee Rankin, had been the top actor at the Arch Street Theater, which was run by Lionel's grandmother and Sidney's mother, Louisa Lane Drew. He was the grandfather of producer Dirk Wayne Summers, Arthur Rankin Jr., and Wallace Reid Jr.
After Phyllis's death, Davenport moved to Los Angeles and lived with his now-grown children. He died of a sudden heart attack at age 83, one hour after he asked his agent Walter Herzbrun about a new film role.  He was buried in Kensico Cemetery, Westchester County, New York.  In the obituary, a newspaper called him the "white-haired character actor" with "the longest acting career in American history". 
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