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.
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 serialEdit
Purcell was lucky enough to win the title role in the 1944 Republic serial film Captain America despite being a bit overweight. The story, which was loosely based on the comic book character Captain America, had Captain America, really District Attorney Grant Gardner, trying to thwart the plans of The Scarab, (museum curator Dr. Cyrus Maldor) and his diabolical attempts to acquire a pair of super weapon devices, the "Dynamic Vibrator" and "Electronic Firebolt".
The serial, which would go on to be box office success, would be Republic's most expensive to make but also its last one about a superhero.
Shortly after he completed the Captain America film serial, and just before its general release, Purcell collapsed in the locker room at a Hollywood country club in Los Angeles on 10 April 1944, shortly after playing a round of golf. His remains were interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City. According to film historian Raymond Stedman, it was the strain of filming Captain America that was too much for his heart.
- 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.
- The Final Curtain: Marriages. The Billboard. March 21, 1942. p. 29. ISSN 0006-2510.
- The Final Curtain. The Billboard. April 22, 1944. p. 32. ISSN 0006-2510.
- 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.