skip navigation
James Dunn

James Dunn

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (5)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Shirley Temple Collection: Volume 2... Enjoy more of Hollywood's pint-sized powerhouse with the 3-disc "Shirley Temple... more info $29.98was $29.98 Buy Now

Stand Up And Cheer! DVD Based on an idea by Will Rogers, "Stand Up and Cheer!" (1934) presents an... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Baby Take A Bow (B&W/Color Versions)... "Baby Take A Bow (B&W/Color Versions)" (2005) showcases Shirley Temple in her... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

The Ernest Hemingway Film Collection... "The Ernest Hemingway Film Collection" includes five adaptations of Hemingway's... more info $59.98was $59.98 Buy Now

Hold That Woman DVD In "Hold that Woman" (1940), late payment collector Jimmy Parker repossesses a... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Shadows Over Shanghai DVD An exciting treasure hunt through China for an amulet that holds the secret to a... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now



Also Known As: Died: September 3, 1967
Born: November 2, 1901 Cause of Death: complications following stomach surgery
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, salesman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An agreeable juvenile lead who managed to shift into a convincing career in character parts, James Dunn was born in Harlem and started his professional life selling lunch wagons to vendors in New Rochelle, New York. Overtaken by the acting bug, he began getting bit parts at Paramount's Astoria studios in the late 1920s. In 1930 he appeared in two Broadway shows, "The Nightstick" and Helen Morgan's "Sweet Adeline". Signed by Fox in 1931, he made 22 films for them (and several loan-outs) in five years. His first, the melodrama "Bad Girl", shot him to overnight fame and assured the continuance of his Fox contract (if not superstardom). Most of his films there were pleasant, forgettable programmers, and his co-stars included everyone on the Fox lot: Sally Eilers (six films, including his first), Peggy Shannon and Spencer Tracy ("Society Girl", 1932), Ginger Rogers and Janet Gaynor ("Change of Heart", 1934), Alice Faye ("365 Nights in Hollywood", 1934, and "George White's 1935 Scandals"). He is best-remembered in his early days for four 1934 co-starring roles with a very young Shirley Temple, notably in "Baby Take a Bow" and the delightful "Stand Up and Cheer". Dunn went freelance in 1936, and his career...

An agreeable juvenile lead who managed to shift into a convincing career in character parts, James Dunn was born in Harlem and started his professional life selling lunch wagons to vendors in New Rochelle, New York. Overtaken by the acting bug, he began getting bit parts at Paramount's Astoria studios in the late 1920s. In 1930 he appeared in two Broadway shows, "The Nightstick" and Helen Morgan's "Sweet Adeline". Signed by Fox in 1931, he made 22 films for them (and several loan-outs) in five years. His first, the melodrama "Bad Girl", shot him to overnight fame and assured the continuance of his Fox contract (if not superstardom). Most of his films there were pleasant, forgettable programmers, and his co-stars included everyone on the Fox lot: Sally Eilers (six films, including his first), Peggy Shannon and Spencer Tracy ("Society Girl", 1932), Ginger Rogers and Janet Gaynor ("Change of Heart", 1934), Alice Faye ("365 Nights in Hollywood", 1934, and "George White's 1935 Scandals"). He is best-remembered in his early days for four 1934 co-starring roles with a very young Shirley Temple, notably in "Baby Take a Bow" and the delightful "Stand Up and Cheer".

Dunn went freelance in 1936, and his career began a downslide. He did small films for medium-sized studios (Columbia, Universal, RKO) and even smaller films on Poverty Row (Monogram, Republic, Grand National). He returned to Broadway in 1940 with a role in "Panama Hattie", which at least kept his name before the public.

Elia Kazan came to Dunn's rescue with the period "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945). His performance as the ne'er-do-well Irish father garnered him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar; but disappointingly, his film roles didn't much improve. He did several stage productions, including "Harvey" on Broadway in 1948. Dunn made another eight unremarkable films, ending with "The Oscar" (1966).

If his film and theater appearances didn't rekindle his fame, Dunn did get a lot of TV work in the 1950s. He appeared on nearly every "Golden Age" anthology, including "Studio One" (CBS), "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse" (ABC), "Curtain Call Theater" (NBC) and "First Person Singular" (Dumont). He also had recurring roles in the series "It's a Great Life" (NBC, 1954-56), "Mr. Broadway" (NBC, 1957), and "Ben Casey" (ABC, 1961-66).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 The Oscar (1966) Network executive
3.
4.
 The Bramble Bush (1960) Stew Schaeffer
5.
 A Wonderful Life (1951) Henry Wood
6.
 The Golden Gloves Story (1950) Joe Riley
7.
 Texas, Brooklyn & Heaven (1948) Mike
8.
 Killer McCoy (1947) Brian McCoy
9.
 That Brennan Girl (1946) Denny Reagan
10.
 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) Johnny Nolan
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1930:
Broadway acting debut
1931:
Made film debut in Fox's "Bad Girl"
1940:
Returned to Broadway in "Panama Hattie"
1951:
Filed for bankruptcy
1966:
Made last film, "The Oscar"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Edna O'Lier. Divorced.
wife:
Frances Gifford. Actor. Divorced.
wife:
Edna Rush. Singer. Survived him.

Family close complete family listing

step-son:
William Tick. Son of widow, survived him.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute