The Other Pat O’Malley

It seems an injustice to make this Pat O’Malley (1890-1966) an also-ran, for he had once starred in films and has over 400 credits, but by the mid ’30s he was busted down to bit player, hence the the later J. Pat O’Malley, staple of the mid-century Disney-verse is the one more folks are apt to recognize.

The first Pat O’Malley was from Forest City, Pennsylvania. He’d worked in railroads in his youth before becoming a performer with circuses and vaudeville. By the middle teens he was a regular playwer with Edison, acting in such things as The Boston Tea Party, All for Old Ireland and A Sprig of Shamrock (all 1915). In 1916 he was in a British adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray; in 1917 he appeared in The Barker with Lew Fields. In the late teens and ’20s he starred in features, including some well-remembered ones as My Wild Irish Rose (1922, based on Bouciault’s The Shaughraun), the 1923 version of The Virginian, in which he played Steve, and My Old Dutch (1926), was the first film for his daughter Kathleen O’Malley, who was acting in television until the end of the 1990s.

By the time sound came, Pat O’Malley was an oldish looking 40. After a year or two he sank from smallish supporting parts down to bit player status, where he remained until his retirement in 1962. His final turn was an extra role in Days of Wine and Roses (1962).

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