Paul Douglas (actor)

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Paul Douglas
Paul Douglas in A Letter to Three Wives trailer.jpg
Douglas in A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
Paul Douglas Fleischer

(1907-04-11)April 11, 1907
DiedSeptember 11, 1959(1959-09-11) (aged 52)
Years active1936−1959
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Farnum (m. 19??; div. 19??)
Susie Wells (m. 19??; div. 19??)
Gerri Higgins
(m. 1940;div. 1941)

(m. 1942;div. 1946)

(m. 1950)

Paul Douglas Fleischer (April 11, 1907 − September 11, 1959), known professionally as Paul Douglas, was an American actor.


Early years

Douglas was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Margaret (Douglas) and William Paul Fleischer. He attended Yale University and participated in dramatics as a student there. [1]


He made his Broadway debut in 1936 as the Radio Announcer in Doty Hobart and Tom McKnight's Double Dummy at the John Golden Theatre. In 1946 he won both a Theatre World Award and a Clarence Derwent Award for his portrayal of Harry Brock in Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday . [2]

Douglas began appearing in films in 1949. He may be best remembered for two baseball comedy movies, It Happens Every Spring (1949) and Angels in the Outfield (1951). He also played Richard Widmark's police partner in the 1950 thriller Panic in the Streets , frustrated newlywed Porter Hollingsway in A Letter to Three Wives (1949), Sgt. Kowalski in The Big Lift (1950), a con man-turned-monk in When in Rome (1952), businessman Calvin B. Marshall in The Maggie (1954), and businessman Josiah Walter Dudley in Executive Suite (1954). He starred in Clash by Night in 1952 with Barbara Stanwyck.

Douglas was host of the 22nd annual Academy Awards in March 1950. Continuing in radio, he was the announcer for The Ed Wynn Show, and the first host of NBC Radio's The Horn & Hardart Children's Hour . In April 1959 Douglas appeared on The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show as Lucy Ricardo's television morning show co-host in the episode "Lucy Wants a Career".

In 1955 he appeared in the play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial , but his union placed him on probation for allegedly saying, "The South stinks. It's a land of sowbelly and segregation," which offended Southern audiences. Douglas claimed that he was misquoted. [3]

Douglas was originally cast in the 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Mighty Casey", a role written for him by Rod Serling based on his character in Angels in the Outfield. Douglas died the day after production of the episode had been completed. He had been in his last stages of illness during filming, and his severe physical state was apparent on film. (The crew incorrectly assumed that his condition was the result of heavy drinking.) The episode – which was a comedy – was deemed unairable. It was, however, resurrected some months later, and Douglas's scenes were re-shot with Jack Warden.

Billy Wilder, who had directed Douglas' wife Jan Sterling in Ace in the Hole (1951), had cast Douglas in the role of Mr. Sheldrake, the boss of the character played by Jack Lemmon and the lover of the character played by Shirley MacLaine, in The Apartment (1960). After his death, the role was recast with Fred MacMurray. [4]

Personal life

Douglas was married five times and went through four divorces. [5] He first wife was Susie Wells (dates unknown), while he married his second wife Elizabeth Farnum in 1931. His third marriage to Geraldine "Gerri" Higgins was short, lasting from 1940-41. [6]

In 1942, he married actress Virginia Field, with whom he had a daughter, Margaret. [7] The couple divorced in 1946. [6] Douglas subsequently married Jan Sterling on May 12, 1950, who became his widow. [8] They had a son, Adams, born October 20, 1955. [1]


Douglas died of a heart attack (myocardial infarction) at his home in Hollywood, California, on September 11, 1959, at the age of 52. [1]

He died a day after he finished filming scenes for the Twilight Zone episode "The Mighty Casey". As with Angels in the Outfield, he played a manager frustrated by a losing team. Most of his scenes were re-shot with Jack Warden as the manager. Douglas appeared in the episode's final shot, in the distance with his back to the camera. [9]

Complete filmography

Radio appearances

1951 Suspense Fragile-Content Death [10]
1952 Suspense Mann Alive [11]
1952 Hollywood Star Playhouse Hospital Zone, Quiet [12]
1953 Theatre Guild on the Air The Show-Off [13]

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  1. 1 2 3 "Paul Douglas, Actor, Dies". Idaho State Journal. Idaho State Journal. September 11, 1959. p. 1. Retrieved May 23, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  2. Internet Broadway Database entry
  3. Toledo Blade - Apr 17, 1955
  4. Silver, Charles. "Billy Wilder's The Apartment". Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved October 15, 2023.
  5. "Paul Douglas". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved October 15, 2023.
  6. 1 2 "About Douglas and New Wife". The Spokesman-Review. June 4, 1950. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  7. Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN   0-399-50601-2. pp. 355–356.
  8. "Actor Paul Douglas Takes Fifth Bride in L.A. Court". The San Bernardino County Sun. The San Bernardino County Sun. May 13, 1950. p. 1. Retrieved May 23, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  9. Cronin, Brian (October 14, 2018). "TV Legends: The Twilight Zone Episode That Featured an Actual Dying Man". CBR. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  10. OTRR_Suspense_Singles Listings Directory , retrieved February 20, 2018 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  11. Kirby, Walter (November 23, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 16, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  12. "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. The Decatur Daily Review. March 9, 1952. p. 42. Retrieved May 23, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  13. Kirby, Walter (February 22, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 23, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg

Further reading