Dunn in 1955.
James Howard Dunn
November 2, 1901
New York City, U.S.
|Died||September 1, 1967 (aged 65)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Edna O'Lier (m. 19??; div. 19??) |
Frances Gifford (m. 1937; div. 1942)
Edna Rush (m. 1945; his death 1967)
James Howard Dunn (November 2, 1901 – September 1, 1967) was an American actor. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the romantic drama film A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1946) and received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. Early in his career, he was billed as Jimmy Dunn.
Born in New York City, Dunn was the son of a Wall Street stockbroker. He joined his father in his business for three years. Dunn started his entertainment career in vaudeville before progressing to films shot at Paramount's Astoria studios in Queens, New York during the late 1920s starting as an extra. After a gap where he appeared in stock companies, he returned to films. He was signed by Fox in 1931, making 22 films and several more as a loan-out.
Dunn made a strong first impression with his first role, in director Frank Borzage's Bad Girl. He made several formula films, including Society Girl (1932), in which he played a boxer distracted by his girlfriend (Peggy Shannon) and whose manager, played by Spencer Tracy in a rare supporting role, walks out in frustration; and Hello, Sister! (1933), a butchered recutting and partial reshooting of Erich von Stroheim's film Walking Down Broadway with Boots Mallory and ZaSu Pitts. Dunn's early successes included four Shirley Temple films in Baby Take a Bow, Stand Up and Cheer!, Change of Heart and Bright Eyes (all 1934). The roles that followed did nothing to advance his career, and during the late 1930s, his prospects were diminished by a battle with alcoholism.
His performance in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He portrayed an alcoholic but good-natured Irish-American father, a dreamer whose presence brought joy to those around him even though he was never a success in the traditional sense.
His success was short-lived and by the beginning of the 1950s, he was unemployed, bankrupt, and once again depending on alcohol. After 1950, he appeared in only three feature films, but continued working in television until his death. From 1954 to 1956, he appeared in the sitcom It's a Great Life as Earl Morgan, the deadbeat brother-in-law of the main character Amy Morgan (played by Frances Bavier) who always was concocting "get-rich-quick" schemes. Dunn also made appearances in many other television programs in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in guest-starring roles.
Dunn was married three times. His first, to Edna O'Lier, ended in divorce. He was married to the actress Frances Gifford from 1938 until 1942. He married his third wife, Edna Rush in 1945, who survived him at his death in 1967 at the age of 65 from complications following stomach surgery in Santa Monica, California.
Dunn has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to motion pictures at 6555 Hollywood Boulevard and television at 7010 Hollywood Boulevard. Both were dedicated on February 8, 1960.
|1929||In the Nick of Time||Short, as Jimmy Dunn|
|1930||Believe It or Not||Reporter||Short, Uncredited|
|Tom Thumbs Down||Short, as Jimmy Dunn|
|The Varsity Show||Short, as Jimmy Dunn|
|1931||Bad Girl||Eddie Collins|
|Sob Sister||Garry Webster|
|Over the Hill||Johnny Shelby as an Adult|
|1932||Dance Team||Jimmy Mulligan|
|Society Girl||Johnny Malone|
|Handle with Care||Bill Gordon|
|1933||Sailor's Luck||Jimmy Fenimore Harrigan|
|Hold Me Tight||Chuck|
|The Girl in 419||Dr. Daniel French|
|Arizona to Broadway||Smiley Wells|
|Jimmy and Sally||Jimmy O'Connor|
|Take a Chance||Duke Stanley|
|1934||Hold That Girl||Barney Sullivan|
|Stand Up and Cheer!||Jimmy Dugan|
|Change of Heart||Mack McGowan|
|Baby Take a Bow||Eddie Ellison|
|365 Nights in Hollywood||James 'Jimmy' Dale|
|Have a Heart||James 'Jimmie' Flaherty|
|Bright Eyes||James 'Loop' Merritt|
|1935||George White's 1935 Scandals||Eddy Taylor|
|The Daring Young Man||Don McLane|
|Welcome Home||Richard Foster|
|The Payoff||Joe McCoy|
|Bad Boy||Eddie Nolan|
|1936||Don't Get Personal||Bob McDonald|
|Hearts in Bondage||Lieutenant Kenneth Reynolds|
|Come Closer, Folks||Jim Keene|
|Mysterious Crossing||Addison Francis Murphy|
|1937||We Have Our Moments||John Wade|
|Venus Makes Trouble||Buzz Martin|
|Living on Love||Gary Martin|
|1938||Shadows Over Shanghai||Johnny McGinty|
|1939||Pride of the Navy||Speed Brennan|
|Mercy Plane||Speed Leslie|
|1940||Son of the Navy||Chief Gunners Mate Mike Malone|
|Hold That Woman!||Jimmy Parker, a Skip-Tracer|
|1942||The Living Ghost||Nick Trayne|
|1943||The Ghost and the Guest||Webster Frye|
|Government Girl||Sergeant Joe Blake|
|1944||Leave It to the Irish||Terry Moran, Private Investigator|
|1945||A Tree Grows in Brooklyn||Johnny Nolan aka The Brooklyn Thrush||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|The Caribbean Mystery||Mr. Smith|
|1946||That Brennan Girl||Denny Reagan aka Prof. Who's Its|
|1947||Killer McCoy||Brian McCoy|
|1948||Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven||Mike|
|1950||The Golden Gloves Story||Joe Riley|
|A Wonderful Life||Henry Wood||Short|
|1960||The Bramble Bush||Stew Schaeffer|
|1962||Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man||Telegrapher|
|1966||The Oscar||Network Executive|
- "James Dunn, Actor, Dies". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. September 4, 1967. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Stamford City Ward 2, Fairfield, CT, enumeration district 113, page 18A. The enumeration indicates that Dunn was 8 years old as of April 1910.
- "("James Dunn" search results)". Academy Awards Database. Retrieved 14 July 2018.[permanent dead link]
- James Dunn (1901–1967) at IMDb
- James Dunn. Allocine.co.uk.
- Great Character Actors. Doug Macauley.com.
- "James Dunn". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 14 July 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.