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James Dunn, Award Winner – MovieActors.com



Dunn in A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.

James Dunn: Best Supporting Actor 1945: MovieActors.com

dunn-image
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (Drama – PG)


James Dunn won his Supporting Oscar for playing the drunken waiter.












About James Dunn (1905 – 1967)

James Howard Dunn was born on November 2nd, 1901, in New York City, New York, the son of a homemaker and a well-known and successful New York stockbroker. James went to public schools.

After high school, James dutifully joined his father on Wall St., learning his father's stockbroker business, while acting on the side. He gave working on Wall Street a good try, but quit after three years, determined to make it on stage or in film. His father probably wasn't too happy with his decision.

James Dunn was often cast in the nice boy next door roles, or positive protagonist in a lead or supporting role, because of his "very friendly, modest and good natured personality."

James worked in vaudeville and as an extra in silent films until he was signed by Fox in 1931. His first role for Fox was in the 1931 film, BAD GIRL, which made him a huge star, elevating him to star status, with top or co-star billing. He made twenty films for FOX.

James Dunn appeared with Shirley Temple in her first three movies;(BABY TAKE A BOW, STAND UP AND CHEER, and BRIGHT EYES) and captured the heart of this little star, who wanted to marry him when she grew up. James Dunn responded to this report, with a sense of humor, "That makes it 100%. Up to now, Shirley was the only girl in Hollywood to whom at one time or another I hadn't been reported engaged."

Looking back at his quick rise to top billing, James thought it was a mistake for him to find popularity so quickly, because he found himself at the top, and the only way was down. Sooner or later, top stars have the tendency to sink to supporting roles of various ranks.
One source states, "His decline from top box office draw to B movie actor was almost as startling as his meteoric rise to fame had been."

Despite a battle with alcoholism, James managed to star and co-star in multiple films each year, as well as work on radio; from 1935 to 1948; slowing down only in the late '40s'. His alcoholism was taking a tole on his work ethic and dependability, creating a reputation of being unreliable.

JAmes got another chance though. James Dunn won the BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Oscar for his performance as Jimmy Nolan in A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN; in 1945. Because of his reputation as a drunk, the Oscar didn't do much to revive his star status in films that he wanted. To make his misery complete, James wound up going bankrupt because the money that he had invested in a Broadway play was lost when the play flopped big time.

His luck changed in an unexpected way, after his wife hid the Oscar. Getting in out of his sight was the right thing to do psychologically. James felt the Oscar was a jinx. Offers for roles in television projects began to be offered to him in 1951, and his television career was launched, providing him with steady work up until he died unexpectantly.

From 1951 to 1956, Dunn had fun being on the televised play productions of the various TV theatre shows, including: PULITZER PRIZE PLAYHOUSE, CURTAIN CALL, HOLLYWOOD OPENING NIGHT, GOODYEAR PLAYHOUSE, LUX VIDEO THEATRE, THE GULF PLAYHOUSE, THE W.E.C., GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATRE, ARMSTRONG CIRCLE THEATRE, and STUDIO ONE IN HOLLYWOOD.

His first regular role in a TV series, was portraying the character, Earl Morgan, on ITS A GREAT LIFE;(1954-1956). James had roles in episodes of the TV series, WALT DISNEY WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR;(1958-1959).

Though James never reclaimed the top spot in films, James had a career of 105 credits in television and film, and earned two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; one for film;( 6555 Hollywood Boulevard), and one for television;(7000 Hollywood Boulevard). This isn't easily accomplished, as very few have been honored in two categories.

Dunn was married to his first wife, Edna O'Lier, when he was a young man, but this marriage ended in divorce, probably because of his drinking problem.

Dunn was married briefly to the actress Frances Gifford; from 1938 until 1942, probably because he was still drinking.

Dunn married his third wife, Edna Rush in 1945, and this marriage lasted the rest of his life.

James Dunn died as a result of complications following stomach surgery on September 3rd, 1967, in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 65.


James Dunn's notable movie credits include...

BAD GIRL (1931)
STAND UP AND CHEER (1934)
OVER THE HILL (1931)
HOLD ME TIGHT (1933)
BRIGHT EYES (1934)
MYSTERIOUS CROSSING (1936)
GOVERNMENT GIRL (1943)
KILLER MCCOY (1947)
THE GOLDEN GLOVES STORY (1950)
THE BRAMBLE BUSH (1960)
THE OSCAR (1966)

James Dunn's television credits include...

IT'S A GREAT LIFE (1954-1956)