Dennis O'Keefe (born Edward Vance Flanagan;[3][4] March 29, 1908 – August 31, 1968) was an American actor and screenwriter.

Dennis O'Keefe
O'Keefe in 1940
Edward Vance Flanagan

(1908-03-29)March 29, 1908
DiedAugust 31, 1968(1968-08-31) (aged 60)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Other namesBud Flanagan
Jonathan Rix
Al Everett Dennis
  • Actor
  • screenwriter
Years active1930–1967
(m. 1937; div. 1938)
(m. 1940)
ParentEdward Flanagan

Early years


Born in Fort Madison, Iowa as Edward Vance Flanagan,[5] O'Keefe was the son of Edward J. Flanagan and Charlotte Flanagan (née Ravenscroft),[6] both vaudevillians of Irish descent. As a small child, he joined his parents' act and later wrote skits for the stage.[5] He attended the University of Southern California but left midway through his sophomore year after his father died.[7]



O'Keefe continued his father's vaudeville act for several years after the father's death.[6] He started in films as an extra in 1931[8] and appeared in numerous films under the name Bud Flanagan. After a small but impressive role in Saratoga (1937), Clark Gable recommended O'Keefe to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which signed him to a contract in 1937 and renamed him Dennis O'Keefe.

His film roles were bigger after that, starting with The Bad Man of Brimstone (1938) opposite Wallace Beery, and the lead role in Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1939). He left MGM around 1940 but continued to work in mostly low-budget productions. He often played the tough guy in action and crime dramas, but was known as a comic actor as well as a dramatic lead. He gained great attention with a showy role in The Story of Dr Wassell and became a comedy star. He expressed interest in expanding into direction.[9] In the mid-1940s, he was under a five-year contract to Edward Small.[10] O'Keefe starred in film-noir classics such as T-Men and Raw Deal, both directed by Anthony Mann. In a 1946 newsreel following Howard Hughes' calamitous plane wreck into a neighbor's Beverly Hills house, O'Keefe can be seen walking through the home inspecting the damage.[citation needed]

In 1950, O'Keefe starred in the radio program T-Man on CBS.[11] Also in the 1950s, he did some directing and wrote mystery stories. During the 1950s, O'Keefe made guest appearances as himself, or in acting roles, on a episodes of a number of television series, such as Justice, The Ford Show, Studio 57, and Climax!. In 1957, he was to be the permanent host of Suspicion,[12]: 1043  an anthology TV series in which 10 episodes were produced by Alfred Hitchcock. After two episodes, he left the series and was not replaced. From 1959 to 1960, he was the star of The Dennis O'Keefe Show.[12]

His Broadway credits include Never Live Over a Pretzel Factory (1964) and Never Too Late.[13]

O'Keefe wrote screenplays under the pen name Jonathan Rix in the late 1940s and 1950s, and then as Al Everett Dennis in the 1960s. His Don't Pull Your Punches was produced by Warner Bros.[6] In 1947, he was working on plans to co-produce and act in Drawn Sabers, another of his stories.[14] He also wrote and directed Angela.[4]

Personal life


O'Keefe had a brief marriage to Louise Stanley, an actress; they married in 1937 and divorced in 1938.[15] He married, in 1940, to Steffi Duna, an actress and dancer. They had two children, Juliena and James.[16]

O'Keefe was raised in the Roman Catholic faith[17] and was a registered Democrat who supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election.[18]


Dennis O'Keefe with Carmen Miranda in Doll Face (1946).

A heavy cigarette smoker, O'Keefe died of lung cancer in 1968 at the age of 60 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. He was buried at Wee Kirk O'the Heather at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[5]

Selected filmography



  1. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search".
  2. ^ "Capitol". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. June 13, 1953. p. 9.
  3. ^ Profile. Accessed August 18, 2023.
  4. ^ a b "Show's Host Is Noted for Versatility". The Amarillo Globe-Times. Texas, Amarillo. October 14, 1957. p. 19. Retrieved January 5, 2019 – via
  5. ^ a b c "Actor Dennis O'Keefe, 60, Dies; Was Native of Iowa". The Des Moines Register. September 2, 1968. p. 11. Retrieved May 21, 2015 – via  
  6. ^ a b c "Dennis O'Keefe, Son of Vaudeville Performers, Knows the Theater". The Times. Indiana, Munster. July 7, 1939. p. 71. Retrieved January 5, 2019 – via
  7. ^ "Majestic". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. March 14, 1942. p. 10. Retrieved January 5, 2019 – via
  8. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 564–565. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "O'Keefe Achieves Stardom; Seeks Director's Post". Los Angeles Times. October 12, 1944.
  10. ^ Philip K. Scheuer (August 23, 1948). "Dennis O'Keefe Costar of Small's 'Dark Page;' Carmen, Wally Reunited". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  12. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  13. ^ "Dennis O'Keefe". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on January 4, 2019. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  14. ^ Parsons, Louella O. (August 9, 1947). "Ann Sothern Loaned to Warners for Musical". The San Francisco Examiner. California, San Francisco. International News Service. p. 12. Retrieved January 5, 2019 – via
  15. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search".
  16. ^ "Capitol". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. June 13, 1953. p. 9. Retrieved January 5, 2019 – via
  17. ^ Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  18. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers