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John Irwin McGiver (November 5, 1913 – September 9, 1975) was an Americanmarker character actor who made more than a hundred appearances in television and motion pictures over a two-decade span from 1955 to 1975.

The owl-faced actor was known for his performances as the religious fanatic Mr. O'Daniel in the film Midnight Cowboy; as the kindly Tiffany's salesman in Breakfast at Tiffany's; and as the ill-fated, but honorable Senator Jordan in the original film version of The Manchurian Candidate. He also appeared on many TV shows, as well as in the first of a popular series of commercials for the American Express charge card ("Do you know me?").

Early life

McGiver was born the son of Irish immigrants. He received a B.A. in English from Fordham Universitymarker in 1938 and master's degrees from Columbia University and Catholic Universitymarker. He was an English teacher before he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the U.S. Army's 7th Armored Division in Europe during World War II. His stage career also began before the war, when he was an actor-director in New York's Irish Repertory Theater. He continued to teach English and speech at Christopher Columbus High Schoolmarker in the Bronxmarker, working occasionally in off-Broadway plays, until 1955, when he became a full time actor.


In 1959, McGiver appeared in the episode "The Assassin" of NBC's espionage drama Five Fingers, starring David Hedison. In 1962, he appeared as Gramps in the episode "The Seventh Day of Creation" of the NBC medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour, starring Wendell Corey and Jack Ging. He appeared on the Twilight Zone Sounds and Silences.

Between 1963 and 1964, McGiver appeared in five episodes of The Patty Duke Show as J.R. Castle, who was Martin Lane's boss at the fictional newspaper The Chronicle.

In the 1964–1965 television season, McGiver played the widower Walter Burnley, the head of the complaint department of a fictitious Los Angelesmarker department store in the CBS sitcom Many Happy Returns. His costars included Elinor Donahue, Mark Goddard, Mickey Manners, and Elena Verdugo.

He lived with his wife Ruth, whom he married in 1947, and ten children in West Fulton, New York, until his death of a heart attack at the age of sixty-one. He was cremated.

Maternal grandfather of author Erik Hage.

Partial filmography

Television series

McGiver was a regular performer on:

McGiver also appeared in:


Broadway theatremarker includes:


  1. U.S. Census, January 1, 1920, State of New York, County of New York, enumeration district 681, p. 15A, family 319.
  2. "John McGiver, Actor, 62, Dies; Did TV, Film Character Roles", New York Times, September 10, 1975, p. 48.
  3. National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
  4. "War Provided Background For C.U. Play", The Washington Post, June 8, 1947, p. L2.
  5. "John M'Giver — Teacher Who Took a Chance", New York Times, June 1, 1958, p. X9.

External links

  • Retrieved on 2009-05-22
  • Retrieved on 2009-05-22

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