Gleason in Meet John Doe (1941)
|Born||May 23, 1882|
New York City, U.S.
|Died||April 12, 1959 76) (aged|
(m. 1905;died 1947)
James Austin Gleason (May 23, 1882 – April 12, 1959) was an American actor, playwright and screenwriter born in New York City.Gleason often portrayed "tough-talking, world-weary guys with a secret heart-of-gold."
Gleason was born in New York City, the son of Mina (née Crolius) and William L. Gleason.Coming from theatrical stock, as a schoolboy he made stage appearances while on holiday. He began earning his living at the age of thirteen, being a messenger boy, printer's devil, assistant in an electrical store and a lift boy. He enlisted in the United States Army at age 16 and served three years in the Philippines.
On discharge, he began his stage career, later taking it up professionally. He played in London for two years and following his return to the United States, he began in films by writing dialogue for comedies. He wrote a number of plays, several of which were performed on Broadway. He also acted on Broadway, including in a couple of his own plays. When World War I broke out, Gleason reenlisted in the United States Army and served to the end of the war.
His film debut was in Polly of the Follies (1922), starring Constance Talmadge. Balding and slender with a craggy voice and a master of the double-take, Gleason portrayed tough but warm-hearted characters, usually with a New York background. He co-wrote The Broadway Melody , the second film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and had a small uncredited role in it. He also co-wrote and briefly appeared as a hot dog vendor in the 1934 Janet Gaynor vehicle Change of Heart . He performed in a number of films with his wife Lucile. In The Clock (1945), he played a milk cart driver who gives lessons in marriage to the characters played by Judy Garland and Robert Walker, while Lucile played his wife. The same year, he played the bartender in the film adaptation of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn . In the Frank Capra classic Meet John Doe , he played the cynical, "hard boiled" editor brought in to pump up the newspaper that runs with the "John Doe" story.
Gleason was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as boxing manager Max "Pop" Corkle in the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan . He starred in two movie series, playing police inspector Oscar Piper in six Hildegarde Withers mystery films during the 1930s, starting with The Penguin Pool Murder , and Joe Higgins in the first seven of nine films about the Higgins Family, in which his wife Lucile and son Russell played Lil and Sydney Higgins. One of Gleason's best-known roles is Uncle Birdie, the kind-hearted ship captain plagued by alcohol and the memory of his deceased wife, in Charles Laughton's film noir classic The Night of the Hunter (1955).
Gleason also performed in other media. In 1931, he co-starred with Robert Armstrong in the radio sitcom Gleason and Armstrong.His television credits include several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents , the Reed Hadley legal drama The Public Defender and ABC's The Real McCoys . In "The Child", the Christmas 1957 episode of John Payne's The Restless Gun on NBC, Gleason and Anthony Caruso played Roman Catholic priests who run an orphanage. Dan Blocker, just launching his acting career, also guest starred in the episode.
For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Gleason has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7038 Hollywood Boulevard.
James and Lucile Gleason had a son, actor Russell Gleason. On December 26, 1945, the younger Gleason was in New York City awaiting deployment to Europe with his regiment, when he fell out of a fourth story window in the Hotel Sutton — which the army had commandeered to house the troops — resulting in his death. Reports varied, some saying the fall was accidental, while others stating it was a suicide.Russell's most prominent role had been as Muller in the Academy Award-winning version of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Russell Gleason was married to Cynthia Hobart (later becoming Cynthia Lindsay), a swimmer and stunt woman who later wrote a biography of family friend Boris Karloff.
James Gleason was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
|1922||Polly of the Follies||Paul Gordon|
|1928||The Count of Ten||The manager|
|1929||The Broadway Melody||Music Publisher||Uncredited, Dialogue co-written by Gleason|
|High Voltage||N/A||Screenplay co-written by Gleason|
|The Flying Fool||N/A||Dialogue written by Gleason|
|Oh, Yeah?||Dusty Reilly|
|The Shannons of Broadway||Mickey Shannon|
|1930||Puttin' On the Ritz||James "Jimmy" Tierney||Also credited with writing dialogue|
|The Swellhead||Johnny Trump|
|Mammy||N/A||Based on the play Mr. Bones, a Musical Comedy of Minstrel Days in Two Acts by Irving Berlin and Gleason|
|Dumbbells in Ermine||Mike||Screenplay by Gleason and Harvey F. Thew|
|The Fall Guy||N/A||Based on the play The Fall Guy, a Comedy in Three Acts, by George Abbott and Gleason|
|The Matrimonial Bed||Gustave Corton|
|Rain or Shine||N/A||Based on the book of the musical Rain or Shine by Gleason and Maurice Marks|
|What a Widow!||N/A||Co-wrote|
|1931||Three Hollywood Girls||N/A||Screenplay by Gleason|
|Beyond Victory||Private Jim Mobley|
|It's a Wise Child||Cool Kelly|
|A Free Soul||Eddie|
|The Big Gamble||Squint Dugan|
|1932||Fast Companions||Silk Henley|
|Lady and Gent||Pin Streaver|
|Blondie of the Follies||Pa McClune|
|The Crooked Circle||Arthur Crimmer|
|The All American||Chick Knipe|
|The Devil Is Driving||"Beef" Evans|
|The Penguin Pool Murder||Police Inspector Oscar Piper|
|1933||The Billion Dollar Scandal||Ratsy Harris|
|Clear All Wires!||Lefty|
|Mister Mugg||N/A||Comedy short|
|The Bowery||N/A||Screenplay co-written by Gleason|
|1934||The Meanest Gal in Town||Duke Slater|
|Search for Beauty||Dan Healy|
|Orders Is Orders||Ed Waggermeyer|
|Change of Heart||Hot Dog Vendor||Uncredited, Also credited as screenwriter|
|Murder on the Blackboard||Inspector Oscar Piper|
|Two-Fisted||N/A||Based on the play Is Zat So? by Gleason and Richard Taber|
|Murder in the Fleet||Inspector Oscar Piper||Uncredited screenplay by Gleason|
|Murder on a Honeymoon||Inspector Oscar Piper|
|West Point of the Air||Joe "Bags"|
|Hot Tip||Jimmy McGill||Co-directed with Ray McCarey|
|We're Only Human||Detective Danny Walsh|
|1936||Murder on a Bridle Path||Police Inspector Oscar Piper|
|The Ex-Mrs. Bradford||Inspector Corrigan|
|Yours for the Asking||Saratoga|
|Don't Turn 'Em Loose||Detective Daniels|
|The Big Game||George Scott|
|The Plot Thickens||Oscar Piper|
|1937||Forty Naughty Girls||Inspector Oscar Piper|
|Manhattan Merry-Go-Round||Danny the Duck|
|1938||The Higgins Family||Joe Higgins|
|Army Girl||Sergeant "Three Star" Hennessy|
|1939||My Wife's Relatives||Joe Higgins|
|Should Husbands Work?||Joe Higgins|
|On Your Toes||Phil Dolan Sr.|
|The Covered Trailer||Joe Higgins|
|Money to Burn||Joe Higgins|
|1940||Grandpa Goes to Town||Joe Higgins|
|Earl of Puddlestone||Joe Higgins|
|1941||Meet John Doe||Henry Connell|
|Affectionately Yours||Chester Phillips|
|Here Comes Mr. Jordan||Max Corkle||Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|Tanks a Million||Colonel "Spitfire" Barkley|
|Nine Lives Are Not Enough||Sergeant Daniels|
|Babes on Broadway||Thornton Reed|
|1942||Hay Foot||Colonel J. A. Barkley|
|A Date with the Falcon||Inspector Mike O'Hara|
|My Gal Sal||Pat Hawley|
|The Falcon Takes Over||Inspector Michael O'Hara|
|Footlight Serenade||Bruce McKay|
|Tales of Manhattan||"Father" Joe|
|Manila Calling||Tim O'Rourke|
|1943||Crash Dive||Chief Mike "Mac" McDonnell|
|A Guy Named Joe||"Nails" Kilpatrick|
|1944||Once Upon a Time||McGillicuddy, aka the "Moke"|
|Arsenic and Old Lace||Police Lieutenant Rooney|
|The Keys of the Kingdom||Reverend Dr. Wilbur Fiske|
|1945||This Man's Navy||Jimmy Shannon|
|A Tree Grows in Brooklyn||McGarrity|
|The Clock||Al Henry, Milk Cart Driver|
|Captain Eddie||Tom Clark|
|1946||The Hoodlum Saint||Snarp|
|The Well-Groomed Bride||Captain Hornby|
|Home, Sweet Homicide||Sgt. O'Hare|
|Lady Luck||Sacramento Sam|
|1947||The Homestretch||Doc Kilborne|
|Down to Earth||Max Corkle|
|The Bishop's Wife||Sylvester|
|1948||Smart Woman||Sam Corkle|
|The Dude Goes West||Sam Briggs|
|The Return of October||Uncle Willie Ramsey|
|When My Baby Smiles at Me||Lefty Moore|
|The Life of Riley||Gillis|
|Take One False Step||Captain Gledhill|
|Miss Grant Takes Richmond||Timothy P. Gleason|
|1950||Key to the City||Sergeant Hogan|
|The Yellow Cab Man||Mickey Corkins|
|Riding High||Racing Secretary|
|The Jackpot||Harry Summers|
|Joe Palooka in the Squared Circle||Knobby Walsh|
|1951||Two Gals and a Guy||Max Howard|
|Joe Palooka in Triple Cross||Knobby Walsh|
|Come Fill the Cup||Charley Dolan|
|I'll See You in My Dreams||Fred Townsend|
|1952||We're Not Married!||Duffy|
|The Story of Will Rogers||Bert Lynn|
|What Price Glory?||General Cokely|
|1953||Forever Female||Eddie Woods|
|1954||Hollywood Thrill-Makers||Risky Russell|
|Suddenly||Peter "Pop" Benson|
|1955||The Night of the Hunter||Birdie Steptoe|
|The Girl Rush||Ether Ferguson|
|1956||Star in the Dust||Orval Jones|
|1957||Spring Reunion||"Collie" Collyer|
|Man in the Shadow||Hank James|
|Loving You||Carl Meade|
|1958||The Female Animal||Tom Maloney|
|Man or Gun||Sheriff Jim Jackson|
|Rock-A-Bye Baby||Doc Simpkins|
|Once Upon a Horse...||Postmaster|
|Money, Women and Guns||Henry Devers|
|The Last Hurrah||"Cuke" Gillen||(final film role)|
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