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Donald O'Connor

Donald O'Connor

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Also Known As: Donald David Dixon O'Connor Died: September 27, 2003
Born: August 28, 1925 Cause of Death: heart failure
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: actor, director, dancer, composer, circus performer, conductor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The exuberant singer-dancer-actor Donald O'Connor honed his skills from a young age on the vaudeville circuit as part of a long running family act. His amazing acrobatics, winning personality and incredible comedic timing were quickly noticed by Hollywood and he was featured in a series of B-pictures from the late 1930s through the 1940s, including "Sing, You Sinners" (1938) with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray, and the popular talking mule comedy "Francis" (1949). However, it was the MGM masterpiece "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) that finally gave O'Connor a first class vehicle for his skills. Even decades after its release, the performer's instantly famous "Make 'em Laugh!" song and dance number remained a knockout. Further assignments in major musicals like "Call Me Madam" (1953) and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954), as well as numerous turns on television variety programs and in stage shows gained him a well deserved following. His abilities were so well known that when gigs in movies or on television were not available to O'Connor, he could easily find work on stage or as a top flight Las Vegas performer. Although O'Connor's career in later years was temporarily derailed by his...

The exuberant singer-dancer-actor Donald O'Connor honed his skills from a young age on the vaudeville circuit as part of a long running family act. His amazing acrobatics, winning personality and incredible comedic timing were quickly noticed by Hollywood and he was featured in a series of B-pictures from the late 1930s through the 1940s, including "Sing, You Sinners" (1938) with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray, and the popular talking mule comedy "Francis" (1949). However, it was the MGM masterpiece "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) that finally gave O'Connor a first class vehicle for his skills. Even decades after its release, the performer's instantly famous "Make 'em Laugh!" song and dance number remained a knockout. Further assignments in major musicals like "Call Me Madam" (1953) and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954), as well as numerous turns on television variety programs and in stage shows gained him a well deserved following. His abilities were so well known that when gigs in movies or on television were not available to O'Connor, he could easily find work on stage or as a top flight Las Vegas performer. Although O'Connor's career in later years was temporarily derailed by his battles with alcohol and health issues, his incredible smile, winning personality and seemingly boundless energy stayed with him throughout the decades and his best work ranked among the most exhilarating to be found in the golden age of Hollywood musicals.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Out to Sea (1997) Jonathan
2.
 That's Entertainment! III (1994) Song Performer
3.
 Toys (1992) Kenneth Zevo
4.
 Time to Remember, A (1988) Father Walsh
5.
 Pandemonium (1982)
6.
 Ragtime (1981) Evelyn'S Dance Instructor
7.
 That's Entertainment! (1974) Narration
8.
 That Funny Feeling (1965) Harvey Granson
9.
 The Wonders of Aladdin (1961) Aladdin
10.
 Cry for Happy (1961) Murray Prince
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in a vaudeville family
1937:
At age 11, appeared in films for the first time doing a specialty number with his brothers in "Melody for Two"
1938:
Made solo film debut in "Sing You Sinners"
1940:
Returned to vaudeville
1942:
Resumed film career under contract to Universal
1950:
Made first film with mule co-star, "Francis"
:
Hosted "The Colgate Comedy Hour" (NBC)
:
Hosted "The Donald O'Connor Texaco Show"
1952:
Moved up in status with "Singin' In the Rain"
1954:
Was Marilyn Monroe's leading man in "There's No Business Like Show Business"
1956:
Conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic at premiere performance of his first symphony, "Reflections d'un Comique"
1968:
Hosted the short-lived syndicated "The Donald O'Connor Show"
1974:
Was on-screen co-narrator for "That's Entertainment!"
1981:
Appeared in first book musical on Broadway, the short-lived "Bring Back Birdie"
1984:
Starred as Cap'n Andy in the Broadway revival of "Show Boat"
:
Has toured in a variety show with Debbie Reynolds
1997:
Returned to features as a dance instructor in "Out to Sea"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

On his "Francis" movies, O'Connor told Playbill: "I used to think of it as a bring-down. I'd make a film like 'There's No Business Like Show Business' ... then have to go back and work with a jackass."

"In vaudeville, we all had to pull together, otherwise we never could have made the jumps. When anybody got sick, you stayed with them in the hotel room. Everybody helped one another. But get out on that stage and they'd try to murder you! There was a healthy competition." --Donald O'Connor in Playbill

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Gwen Carter. Actor. Married in 1944; divorced in 1954.
wife:
Gloria Noble. Married in November 1956.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Edward Joseph O'Connor. Circus performers-turned-vaudevillians.
mother:
Effie Irene O'Connor. Circus performers-turned-vaudevillians.
brother:
Jack O'Connor. Vaudeville performer. Did act with brother Donald for many years.
sister-in-law:
Tichi Noble Wilkerson Miles Kassel. Widow of W.R. Wilkerson; owner and publisher of THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER until sale of trade paper in 1988.
daughter:
Donna O'Connor. Mother, Gwen Carter.
daughter:
Alice O'Connor. Mother, Gloria Noble.
son:
Donald Frederick O'Connor. Mother, Gloria Noble.
son:
Kevin O'Connor. Mother, Gloria Noble.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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