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Douglass Dumbrille

Douglass Rupert Dumbrille (October 13, 1889 – April 2, 1974) was a Canadian actor and one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood.[citation needed]

Douglass Dumbrille
Douglass Dumbrille as J.D. Morgan in A Day at the Races (1937).jpg
as J.D. Morgan in the Marx Brothers film A Day at the Races (1937)
Douglass Rupert Dumbrille

(1889-10-13)October 13, 1889
DiedApril 2, 1974(1974-04-02) (aged 84)
Resting placeValhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California
Years active1924–64
Jessie Lawson
(m. 1910; died 1957)

Patricia Mowbray
(m. 1960; his death 1974)

Life and careerEdit

The son of Richard and Elizabeth Dumbrille,[citation needed] Douglass Rupert Dumbrille was born in Hamilton, Ontario.[1] As a young man, he was employed as a bank clerk in Hamilton while pursuing an interest in acting. He eventually left banking to work with a stock company that led him to Chicago, Illinois and a job with another stock company that toured the United States.

In 1913, the East Coast film industry was flourishing and that year he appeared in the film What Eighty Million Women Want, but it would be another 11 years before he appeared on screen again.

In 1924, he made his Broadway debut and worked off and on in the theatre for several years while supplementing his income by selling such products as car accessories, tea, insurance, real estate, and books.

During the Great Depression, Dumbrille moved to the West Coast of the U.S., where he specialized in playing secondary character roles alongside the great stars of the day. His physical appearance and suave voice equipped him for roles as slick politician, corrupt businessman, crooked sheriff, or unscrupulous lawyer. He was highly regarded by the studios[according to whom?] and was sought out by Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Capra, Hal Roach and other prominent Hollywood filmmakers.

He played similar roles in Capra's 1934 film Broadway Bill and the 1950 remake, Riding High. He also appeared in DeMille's 1938 version of The Buccaneer and twenty years later in the 1958 color remake. A friend of fellow Canadian-born director Allan Dwan, Dumbrille played Athos in Dwan's 1939 adaptation of The Three Musketeers.

Dumbrille had roles in more than 200 motion pictures and, with the advent of television, made numerous appearances in the 1950s and 1960s. He had the ability to project a balance of menace and pomposity in roles as the "heavy" in comedy films, such as those of the Marx Brothers or Abbott and Costello.

From left to right: Henry Wilcoxon, Dumbrille, Yul Brynner, and others in the trailer for The Ten Commandments (1956)

He portrayed the Egyptian priest and magician Jannes in DeMille's final film, The Ten Commandments (1956).

Also working in television, Dumbrille was cast in six episodes of the religion anthology series, Crossroads. He portrayed Senator Bates in "Thanksgiving Prayer" (1956) with Ron Hagerthy of Sky King. Dumbrille then portrayed Mr. Willoughby in "Big Sombrero" (1957). In 1958, he was cast as Mayor John Geary in three episodes of the NBC western series, The Californians. He subsequently guest-starred in Frank Aletter's CBS sitcom, Bringing Up Buddy.[2]

Dumbrille made two guest appearances as a judge on CBS's Perry Mason; in 1964 he played Judge Robert Adler in "The Case of the Latent Lover", and in 1965 he played an unnamed judge in "The Case of the Duplicate Case". In his final television role, he portrayed a doctor in episode 10 of Batman in February 1966.

Personal lifeEdit

After 47 years of marriage, Dumbrille's wife, Jessie Lawson, mother of their son John and daughter Douglass (Dougie), died in 1957.[3] In 1960, at the age of seventy, Dumbrille married Patricia Mowbray, the 28-year-old daughter of his friend and fellow actor, Alan Mowbray.[4] In response to criticism of the May–December marriage, Dumbrille provided a succinct answer: "Age doesn’t mean a blasted thing. The important thing is whether two people can be happy together. Pat and I agreed that I had some years left and we could best share them together. We don’t give a continental damn what other people think."[citation needed]


Selected filmographyEdit


  1. ^ Eichelbaum, Stanley (July 23, 1965). "'High Camp' Film Festival". The San Francisco Examiner. California, San Francisco. p. 25. Retrieved 20 February 2019 – via
  2. ^ "Douglass Dumbrille". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Douglass Dumbrille Funeral Rites Pending". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. April 4, 1974. p. Part III p 11. Retrieved 20 February 2019 – via
  4. ^ Kear, Lynn; Rossman, John (2016). The Complete Kay Francis Career Record: All Film, Stage, Radio and Television Appearances. McFarland. p. 243. ISBN 9781476602875. Retrieved 20 February 2019.

External linksEdit