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Brian Donlevy (February 9, 1889April 5, 1972) was an Irish-born American character actor, noted for playing tough guys from the 1930s to the 1960s. He mainly appeared in supporting roles. Among his best known films are Beau Geste (1939) and The Great McGinty (1940). For his role as Sergeant Markoff in Beau Geste he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

His obituary in The Times newspaper in the United Kingdommarker stated that "any consideration of the American 'film noir' of the 1940s would be incomplete without him."

Early life

Donlevy was born Waldo Brian Donlevy in Armagh, Ireland to a whiskey distiller and his wife. When he was 10 months old his parents moved to Racine, Wisconsin. When he was 9 years old, his family moved to Clevelandmarker, Ohio and when he was 15 he ran away from home to join General Pershing's army against Mexico's Pancho Villa. His position in the army did not last very long, but he was able to get into military school soon after. In 1916 he was a major in the Aviation Section, U. S. Signal Corps and fought in Europe during World War I. After the war he lived for a few years in the San Francisco Bay area before pursuing an acting career.

Acting career

Donlevy began his career in New Yorkmarker in the early 1920s, appearing in many theater productions and also winning an increasing number of silent film parts. Previously, he had modeled for the illustrator J.C. Leyendecker who produce illustrations for the famous Arrow Collar ads. His Broadwaymarker credits included Hit the Deck and Life Begins at 8:40.

Donlevy's break came in 1935, when he was cast in the Edward G. Robinson film Barbary Coast. A large amount of film work followed, with several important parts. In 1939, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the ruthless Sergeant Markoff in Beau Geste, although the Oscar went to Thomas Mitchell for Stagecoach.

The following year, he played the role for which he is perhaps best remembered, that of McGinty in The Great McGinty, a role he reprised four years later in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. In 1942, Donlevy starred in Wake Island and The Glass Key. In 1955, he played the lead in the Britishmarker science-fiction horror film The Quatermass Xperiment (called The Creeping Unknown in the US) for the Hammer Films company, playing the lead role of Professor Bernard Quatermass. The film was based on a 1953 BBC Television serial of the same name. The character had been British, but Hammer cast Donlevy, who was born in Belfast Ireland and raised in America, in an attempt to help sell the film to American audiences. Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale disliked Donlevy's portrayal, referring to Donlevy as "a former Hollywood heavy gone to seed". Nonetheless, the film version was a success and Donlevy returned for the sequel, Quatermass 2 (Enemy From Space in the US), in 1957, also based on a BBC television serial. This made Donlevy the only man ever to play the famous scientist on screen twice, although later Scottishmarker actor Andrew Keir would play him two times, once on film and later on the radio.

Throughout his film career, Donlevy also did several radio shows, including a reprise of The Great McGinty. He went on to feature in a number of films over the following years until his death. He also appeared in a variety of television series from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s, guest starring in episodes of such popular programs as Crossroads, Perry Mason, Wagon Train, Rawhide, as well as in his own series in the 1950s, Dangerous Assignment. In 1957, he appeared in a CBS production of the A. J. Cronin novel, Beyond This Place. In 1960, he appeared as John Ridges in the episode "Escape" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson, with Sylvia Sidney portraying his wife. His last film role was in The Winner, released in 1969.

Personal life

Donlevy was married three times: first to Yvonne Grey from 1928-36, then to actress Marjorie Lane from 1936-1938, and finally to Lillian Lugosi (the widow of Bela Lugosi, famous for playing Dracula) from 1966 until his death in 1972.

He died on April 6, 1972 in Woodland Hills, Californiamarker from throat cancer, aged 83, survived by his wife and a daughter, Judy Donlevy, by his second wife. His ashes were scattered over Santa Monica Baymarker.

Partial filmography

Heaven Only Knows (1947)


External links

  • Retrieved on 2009-02-19
  • Retrieved on 2009-02-19

NAME= Donlevy, Brian
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Donlevy, Waldo Bruce
DATE OF BIRTH= February 9, 1901
PLACE OF BIRTH= [Northern Ireland] United Kingdom}
DATE OF DEATH= April 5, 1972
PLACE OF DEATH= Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, Californiamarker, U.S.marker}}

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