Don C. Harvey: From the Middle West to the Mad, Mad World

If Don C. Harvey (1911-1963) had a genuine western air about it’s because he started out acting in Kansas tent shows, Chautauquas, stock companies, and opera houses. Originally known as “Carlos”, his middle name, he was raised in a converted general store and acted in school plays in his youth. Upon graduation in 1932, he began performing at a local theatre, which led to his getting hired by a traveling stock company the Model Players which played one night stands throughout Kansas. In 1934 he married the company ingenue, the daughter of the company manager. She was 11 years his senior.

In 1941 he got hired to be an announcer at local radio stations in Iowa and South Dakota. At that stage, he changed his professional name to Don C. Harvey. He moved to Hollywood in 1944, where he was cast in his first film That Night With You the following year. Harvey massed over 200 screen credits over the next two decades, mostly in B movies, serials and on television. He was often cast as the heavy. Serials included Batman and Robin (1949), Atom Man vs. Superman (1950). On TV he was a repeat offender on such shows as Gang Busters, The Gene Autry Show, The Adventures of Kit Carson, Captain Midnight, The Roy Rogers Show, Annie Oakley, Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, The Lone Ranger, Dragnet, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Tales of Wells Fargo, Rawhide, Maverick, Laramie, Wagon Train, and Death Valley Days.

But while I enjoy westerns and all, what put the life of Don C. Harvey over the top for me so I knew that he absolutely rated a Travalanche post was the fact that he had a small role as a policeman in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). He was in fact, the first person from that legendary cast to shuffle off this mortal coil. But not before he got in two more last minute acting credits: an episode of Ripcord (1963) and a TV movie called Johnny Shiloh (1963).

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.