Richard Gerold Purcell Jr. (August 6, 1905 – April 10, 1944) was an American actor best known for playing Marvel Comics' Captain America in the 1943 film serial, co-starring with Lorna Gray and Lionel Atwill. Purcell also appeared in films such as Tough Kid (1938), Accidents Will Happen (1938), Heroes in Blue (1939), Irish Luck (1939), The Bank Dick (1940), and King of the Zombies (1941),
Richard Gerold Purcell Jr.
August 6, 1905
Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||April 10, 1944 (aged 38)|
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Known for||Captain America|
(m. 1942; div. 1942)
Purcell was born in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1905 (not 1908, as many sources suggest). One of 5 children, he attended Catholic grade school and high school, before enrolling as a student at Fordham University in The Bronx in New York City.
Theatre and early film workEdit
While in New York City, Dick Purcell began his acting career in theatre, appearing in at least three plays: Men in White, Sailor, Beware! and Paths of Glory. During his time acting in Paths of Glory, a talent scout spotted Purcell and this led to a small role in the film Ceiling Zero (1936). His next film was Man Hunt (1936), in which Purcell had a larger role as a newspaper reporter. Purcell appeared in eleven films in 1936 alone.
Captain America (1944) is a Republic serial film loosely based on the comic book character Captain America. It was the last Republic serial made about a superhero. It also has the distinction of being the most expensive serial that Republic ever made.
The serial sees Captain America, really District Attorney Grant Gardner, trying to thwart the plans of The Scarab, really museum curator Dr. Cyrus Maldor—especially regarding his attempts to acquire the "Dynamic Vibrator" and "Electronic Firebolt", devices that could be used as super-weapons.
Dick Purcell won the role as Grant Gardner / Captain America, being cast as the hero despite supposedly appearing a bit overweight.
The role that made Dick Purcell famous turned out to be his last, and in fact he died a few weeks after filming was completed, before the film serial was released to enormous success. According to film historian Raymond Stedman, the strain of filming Captain America had been too much for his heart, and he collapsed in the locker room at a Los Angeles country club on 10 April 1944, shortly after playing a round of golf.
- The Doorway to Hell (1930) - Minor Role (uncredited)
- The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932) - Jimmy's College Friend (uncredited)
- Ceiling Zero (1936) - Smiley
- Freshman Love (1936) - Radio Announcer (uncredited)
- Man Hunt (1936) - Skip McHenry
- Brides Are Like That (1936) - Dr. Randolph Jenkins
- Snowed Under (1936) - Bert (uncredited)
- Times Square Playboy (1936) - Wally Calhoun
- The Law in Her Hands (1936) - Marty
- Bullets or Ballots (1936) - Ed Driscoll (credited as Richard Purcell)
- Public Enemy's Wife (1936) - Louie
- Bengal Tiger (1936) - Nick DeLargo
- Jailbreak (1936) - Ed Slayden
- The Case of the Velvet Claws (1936) - Crandal
- The Captain's Kid (1936) - George Chester
- King of Hockey (1936) - Gabby Dugan
- Navy Blues (1937) - Russell J. 'Rusty' Gibbs
- Men in Exile (1937) - Jimmy Carmody
- Melody for Two (1937) - Mel Lynch
- Draegerman Courage (1937) - Trapped Draegerman (uncredited)
- Slim (1937) - Tom
- Public Wedding (1937) - Joe Taylor
- Reported Missing (1937) - Paul Wayne
- Wine, Women and Horses (1937) - George Mayhew
- Alcatraz Island (1937) - 'Harp' Santell
- Missing Witnesses (1937) - 'Bull' Regan
- Daredevil Drivers (1938) - Bill Foster
- Over the Wall (1938) - Ace Scanlon
- Accidents Will Happen (1938) - Jim Faber
- Flight into Nowhere (1938) - Bill Kellogg
- Air Devils (1938) - Percy 'Slats' Harrington
- Mystery House (1938) - Lance O'Leary
- Penrod's Double Trouble (1938) - Tex Boyden
- Valley of the Giants (1938) - Creel
- Garden of the Moon (1938) - Rick Fulton
- Broadway Musketeers (1938) - Vincent 'Vince' Morrell
- Nancy Drew... Detective (1938) - Keiffer
- Tough Kid (1938) - 'Red' Murphy
- Blackwell's Island (1939) - Terry Walsh
- Streets of New York (1939) - T.P. 'Tap' Keenan
- Irish Luck (1939) - Steve Lanahan
- Heroes in Blue (1939) - Terry Murphy
- Outside the Three-Mile Limit (1940) - Agent Melvin Pierce
- New Moon (1940) - Alexander
- Private Affairs (1940) - Dick Cartwright
- Arise, My Love (1940) - Pink
- The Bank Dick (1940) - Mackley Q. Greene
- Flight Command (1940) - Lieut. 'Stichy' Payne
- King of the Zombies (1941) - James McCarthy
- Two in a Taxi (1941) - Bill Gratton
- Bullets for O'Hara (1941) - Wicks
- Flying Blind (1941) - Bob Fuller
- The Pittsburgh Kid (1941) - Cliff Halliday
- No Hands on the Clock (1941) - Red Harris
- Torpedo Boat (1942) - Ralph Andrews
- In Old California (1942) - Joe Dawson
- I Live on Danger (1942) - Norm Thompson
- The Old Homestead (1942) - Scarf Lennin
- Phantom Killer (1942) - Edward Arlington Clark
- X Marks the Spot (1942) - Police Lt. William 'Bill' Decker
- Reveille with Beverly (1943) - Andy Adams
- No Place for a Lady (1943) - Rand Brooke
- Idaho (1943) - Duke Springer
- Aerial Gunner (1943) - Pvt. Lancelot 'Gadget' Blaine
- High Explosive (1943) - Dave
- Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943) - Johnny Smith
- Timber Queen (1944) - Milt Holmes
- Captain America (1944, Serial) - Grant Gardner / Captain America
- Trocadero (1944) - Spike Nelson
- Leave It to the Irish (1944) - Pat Burke (final film role)
- Selective Service Registration Cards, WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940 - 03/31/1947, published by National Archives and Records Administration
- Dick Purcell at IMDb
- Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "10. The Long-Underwear Boys "You've Met Me, Now Meet My Fist!"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 255, 258–259, 263. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
- Stedman, Raymond William (1971). "5. Shazam and Good-by". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5.
- The Final Curtain: Marriages. The Billboard. 21 March 1942. p. 29. ISSN 0006-2510.
- The Final Curtain. The Billboard. 22 April 1944. p. 32. ISSN 0006-2510.
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