How much did you know about this hard working actor?
Supporting character performers have some things in common. For one thing, they — notably including our man Allen Jenkins — are often hard to name at the same time that their faces are easily familiar. It’s the “there’s what-is-name again” effect.
Character actors for reasons mostly economic often work a lot. In 43-year career in movies and tv Jenkins appeared in nearly 160 productions — averaging nearly four productions every year.
He was, as stars often are not, impervious to age. Jenkins simply played older parts as he got older. He died of lung cancer in 1974 at age 74. (Contrast the photo above with those below.)
He also was an accomplished scene stealer, as many character performers were. The New York Times dubbed him “the greatest scene-stealer of the 1930’s.”
Ok, on to the answers to our Allen Jenkins Quiz. Here we go:
1) Question: Below is a photo of late Fifties Jenkins with Thelma Ritter taken from a big boxoffice romantic comedy costarring Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Can you name this picture?
Answer: 1959’s Pillow Talk.
2) Question: Very early in his career Jenkins performed onstage as a dancer besides another aspiring performer who went on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Who was he? a) George Jessel; b) James Cagney; c) George Raft or d) Eddie Cantor.
Answer: b) James Cagney. The story goes that Jenkins in his first stage appearance danced in the chorus line of a musical titled Pitter-Patter right next to the very young Cagney. Supposedly, his weekly take-home pay was five dollars. In any case, Cagney and and Jenkins maintained a warm friendship throughout their careers. Jenkins, born Alfred McGonegal, was inducted in Hollywood’s so-called “Irish Mafia,” an informal social group that included Cagney, Pat O’Brien and Spencer Tracy.
3) Question: Below is a shot of Jenkins playing a supporting part in a 1964 comedy costarring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Bing Crosby. Can you identify this feature?
Answer: A forgettable ‘rat pack’ outing, Robin and the 7 Hoods.
4) Question: Jenkins spent the last half of his long career playing various roles on television. Which one of the following programs was he NOT on? a) Top Cat; b) The Man From U.N.C.L.E.; c) I Love Lucy; or d) The Ernie Kovacs Show.
Answer: Sorry. Another of our trick questions. Jenkins had roles in all of the above. He is often recalled as the voice behind the character of Officer Charlie Dribble on the early Sixties cartoon series, Top Cat.
5) Question: Jenkins offscreen was active in creating awareness about a disability that afflicted him, even appearing before the U.S. Congress to plead his cause. What was the disability? a) alcoholism; b) gambling addiction; c) drug abuse; or d) all of the above.
Answer: a) alcoholism. Jenkins spoke out publicly about his drinking problem and even addressed a Congressional hearing on the subject.