Douglass Dumbrille: Butter Wouldn’t Melt

Actor Douglas Dumbrille

Today some remembrance for Douglass Dumbrille (1889-1974). The suave, diminutive character actor from Canada possessed a slickness that made him perfect for playing crooked mouthpieces, unsavory politicians and villains of every stripe. His humorlessness made him perfect as a foil in comedies; his impeccable stage diction made him great in costume dramas; his shifty urban demeanor made him ideal as an Eastern shark in westerns. After years alternating roles with stock companies, silent pictures and a half dozen Broadway shows), he finally made his mark when talkies came in and had scores of parts in film and tv for three and a half decades. He appeared memorably in Frank Capra’s Broadway Bill (1934) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), with the Marx Brothers in A Day at the Races (1937) and The Big Store (1941), with Eddie Cantor in Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937), with the Ritz Brothers in The Three Musketeers (1939), with Red Skelton and Lucille Ball in DuBarry was a Lady (1943), with Hope and Crosby in The Road to Utopia (1946) and just Hope in Monsieur Beaucaire (1946) and Son of Paleface (1952), and with you-know-who in Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950). It is altogether fitting that his last role was in an episode of Batman in 1966.

And here he is with Burn and Allen in an episode of their tv sit com from 1957:

To find out more about show business past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


For more on silent and slapstick comedy please see my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc


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