John Brown (actor)

John Brown (April 4, 1904 - May 16, 1957) was an English radio and film actor.[1]

John Brown
John H. Brown

(1904-04-04)April 4, 1904
Hull, Yorkshire, England
DiedMay 16, 1957(1957-05-16) (aged 53)
Hollywood, California, United States
Years active1932-1957

Early yearsEdit

Brown was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England.


Brown had major roles in several popular radio shows: He was "John Doe" in the Texaco Star Theater's version of Fred Allen's Allen's Alley,[2] played Irma's love interest Al in My Friend Irma,[3] both "Gillis" and Digby "Digger" O'Dell in The Life of Riley,[4] (a role he reprised for the first incarnation of the television show), "Broadway" in The Damon Runyon Theatre,[5] and "Thorny" the neighbor on the radio version of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.[6]


Brown appeared in some notable films: Strangers on a Train (1951), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, uncredited), and The Wild One (1953); he supplied the voice of "Ro-Man" in the 1953 cult science fiction B-film Robot Monster.


In early television, Brown was the second actor (after Hal March) to play "Harry Morton", the next-door neighbor of George Burns and Gracie Allen in their situation comedy show, opposite Bea Benaderet; his tenure on the series lasted six months, and he was replaced by Fred Clark in June 1951.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1952, Brown was placed on the Hollywood blacklist.


Brown died of a heart attack on May 16, 1957, in West Hollywood, California, while en route to his doctor's office.[1][7]



Original Air Date Program Role Notes
1932 Police Headquarters
1932-1936 Roses and Drums
1939 Arch Oboler's Plays
1939-1944 Texaco Star Theatre John Doe
1940-1945 Amanda of Honeymoon Hill Mr. Lenord
1942 Tillie the Toiler Mr. Simpkins
1942-1949 The Abbott and Costello Show Travelling salesmen
Police officers
1943 Busy Mr. Bingle Mr. Bingle
1943 The Jack Benny Program Airplane Captain
1944-1946 The Charlotte Greenwood Show William Anderson
1944-1950 A Date with Judy Dad
1944-1951 The Life of Riley Digby "Digger" O'Dell
Additional voices
1945-1950 The Saint Inspector Fernack
1945-1952 The Adventures of Maisie Mr. Dorsey
1945-1954 The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Thorny Thornberry
1946-1951 A Day in the Life of Dennis Day Mr. Willoughby
1947-1954 My Friend Irma Al
1948-1949 The Damon Runyon Theatre Broadway
1949 Young Love James Lewis' Dad
1952-1953 December Bride Various characters


Year Title Role Notes
1944 Casanova Brown Fire chief Uncredited
1945 The Horn Blows at Midnight Lew Poplinski - Waiter Uncredited
1945 It's in the Bag! Joe - Nightclub Doorman Uncredited
1946 Make Mine Music Umpire Voice
1946 The Stranger Passport Photographer Uncredited
1949 The Life of Riley Digby "Digger" O'Dell
1951 Three Desperate Men Fairwether
1951 The Lemon Drop Kid Minor Role Uncredited
1951 Symphony in Slang The Hipster
Noah Webster
1951 Strangers on a Train Professor Collins
1951 The Day The Earth Stood Still George Barley Uncredited
1952 The Sniper Wise Uncredited
1952 Somebody Loves Me Auto Salesman Uncredited
1952 Something for the Birds Mr. Lund
1952 Hans Christian Andersen Schoolmaster
1953 The Unicorn in the Garden Husband
1953 Robot Monster Ro-Man
Great Guidance
1953 Crazylegs Keller
1953 Man Crazy Mr. Duncan
1953 The Bigamist Dr. Wallace Uncredited
1953 The Wild One Bill Hannegan
1954 Dixieland Droopy Narrator
Pee Wee
Theatrical Agent
Voice, Uncredited, (final film role)


Year Program Role Notes
1949-1950 The Life of Riley Digby "Digger" O'Dell Was the only original cast member to join the television version
1951 I Love Lucy Mr. Murdoch "The Mustache"
1951 The Amos 'n Andy Show The Loan Shark "Leroy Lends a Hand"
1951 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Harry Morton
1952 Biff Baker, U.S.A. Mueller "Counterfeit Plates"


  1. ^ a b DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2. P. 43.
  2. ^ Buxton, Frank (1997). The Big Broadcast 1920-1950 2nd Edition. Scarecrow Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-0810829572. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  3. ^ Gargiulo, Suzanne (2002). Hans Conreid: A Biography; With a Filmography and a Listing of Radio, Television, Stage and Voice Work. McFarland. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7864-1338-6. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  4. ^ "The Life of Riley". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  5. ^ "The Damon Runyon Theatre". Digital Deli Too. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  6. ^ Nachman, Gerald (1998). Raised on Radio, p. 247. Pantheon Books, New York. ISBN 037540287X.
  7. ^ "Digger O'Dell Dies". The Kansas City Times. Associated Press. May 18, 1957. p. 2. Retrieved April 26, 2015 – via

External linksEdit