Today is the birthday of actor Alan Dinehart (1889-1994). Originally from St. Paul, Dinehart dropped out of school to act in repertory theatre and vaudeville, eventually making his way to the heights of both genres: Broadway and the Palace. His Broadway career lasted from 1918 through 1941 (27 productions), including roles in plays he’d written himself, notably Separate Rooms (1940-1941), in which he co-starred with Lyle Talbot and Glenda Farrell, and which ran for a year and a half. In 1931 he began appearing in Hollywood films, usually as slick, crooked villains in B pictures. Among his dozens of films are Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) with Shirley Temple, The Heat’s On (1943) with Mae West, Victor Moore and William Gaxton, and Minstrel Man (1944) with Bennie Fields.
Dinehart also had two interesting sons in show business. Alan Dinehart, Jr. (1918-1992) was a Renaissance man in animated television programming, working as producer, scriptwriter, voice-over artist, and voice director in numerous shows, including Top Cat and The Flintstones. He also wrote teleplays for live action shows such as Gilligan’s Island. Another son by another marriage, Mason Alan Dinehart (b. 1936), often mistakenly referred to as his grandson, was a successful television actor, best known for playing Bat Masterson on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-1959).
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, released by Bear Manor Media.