Tom Fadden

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Tom Fadden
Tom Fadden in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.jpg
Born(1895-01-06)January 6, 1895
Bayard, Iowa, United States
DiedApril 14, 1980(1980-04-14) (aged 85)
Vero Beach, Florida, United States
Years active1915–1977
  • Genevieve Bartolocci
  • Jane Fadden
Robert Walker and Tom Fadden (right) in Vengeance Valley (1951) Robert Walker-Tom Fadden in Vengeance Valley.jpg
Robert Walker and Tom Fadden (right) in Vengeance Valley (1951)

Tom Fadden (January 6, 1895 – April 14, 1980) was an American actor. He performed on the legitimate stage, vaudeville, in films and on television during his long career.


Early life

Fadden was born in Bayard, Iowa, on January 6, 1895; his father was a mining engineer. Early in life the family moved farther west, moving from state to state, including the Dakotas, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Nebraska. In Nebraska Fadden graduated from Creighton University. [1]


After graduating from college, Fadden joined a theater company in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1915. [2] He acted in stock companies and vaudeville during the 1910s and 1920s. In 1924 he made his Broadway debut, starring as Peter Jekyll in The Wonderful Visit. [3] Over the next fifteen years he appeared in almost two dozen productions on the Great White Way, including Nocturne (1925), The Butter and Egg Man (1925–26), Elmer Gantry (1928), The Petrified Forest (1935) and Our Town (1938). [4] During a revival of The Butter and Egg Man in London Fadden met and married his first wife, Genevieve Bartolocci. [1]

He made his film debut with a small role in 1939's I Stole a Million , which stars George Raft and Claire Trevor. His next film, Destry Rides Again , starred Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. [5] His film career spanned almost forty years, and encompassed over 90 films, mostly in small or supporting roles, although with an occasional starring role, as in 1940's Zanzibar [6] [7] and the 1940 serial Winners of the West .

In the 1940s he appeared in other films such as the Bob Hope comedy, My Favorite Blonde (1942); [8] Pardon My Sarong (1942), starring Abbott and Costello; [9] The Naughty Nineties (1945), again starring Abbott and Costello; [10] the film noir, The Big Sleep (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall; [11] and director Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946), where Fadden portrayed the tollhouse keeper on the bridge, who reacts to Clarence's (the angel) explanation of who he is to George Bailey (James Stewart). [2] [12] Capra remembered Fadden's work and cast him among many of Capra's old cronies for the 1961 Damon Runyon comedy Pocketful of Miracles (1961).

Tom Fadden bore more than a passing resemblance to familiar character player Irving Bacon, and in time they both wound up playing similar mild-mannered roles. In the 1950s, Fadden appeared in Dallas (1950), starring Gary Cooper and Ruth Roman; [13] 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers , where his character is one of the first victims to succumb to the alien invaders; [2] [14] and Baby Face Nelson (1957), starring Mickey Rooney and Carolyn Jones. [15]

Fadden was also an early arrival on television. One of his first TV roles was that of Eben Kent, the earthman who adopts Kal-El on the inaugural episode of The Adventures of Superman . [1] He appeared in other television shows during the decade, including recurring roles on Broken Arrow (1956–58) and Cimarron City (1958–59). [16] Although he appeared in few films in the 1960s, he worked regularly on television during the decade, including Gunsmoke (in the 1961 episode “A Man and A Day” & the 1964 episode “Run Sheep, Run”), Perry Mason (1962 episode “The Case of the Crippled Cougar”), and a recurring role on Petticoat Junction . [1] His final acting credit was the 1977 science fiction horror film, Empire of the Ants , starring Joan Collins. [16]

Fadden died of natural causes on April 14, 1980, in Vero Beach, Florida. [1]


(Per AFI database) [6]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Longden, Tom (December 21, 2003). "Tom Fadden: Character actor 1895-1980". The Des Moines Register. p. 11. Retrieved June 22, 2023 via
  2. 1 2 3 "Tom Fadden". MediaBang. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  3. "The Wonderful Visit". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  4. "Tom Fadden". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  5. "Destry Rides Again". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  6. 1 2 "Tom Fadden". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  7. "Zanzibar". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  8. "My Favorite Blonde". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  9. "Pardon My Sarong". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  10. "The Naughty Nineties". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  11. "The Big Sleep". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  12. "It's a Wonderful Life". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  13. "Dallas". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  14. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  15. "Baby Face Nelson". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  16. 1 2 "Tom Fadden". AllMovie. Retrieved January 7, 2015.