One thing you should keep in mind is that he is better remembered today as a tv actor than big screen personality. But we don’t hold that against him.
From 1952, DeFore was an integral part of the ABC-TV sitcom, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. He played “Thorny,” the Nelson’s friendly neighbor, a role that won him an Emmy nomination in 1955.
Pictured above is the Nelson family with DeFore shown second from the right, flanked by David Nelson. Ricky Nelson and his parents are to Defore’s left (as we look at the photo). Yes, the Nelson’s were a real couple. Ozzie was a former bandleader, popular on radio, and wife Harriet (Hilliard) was the band’s singer. Ricky and David virtually grew up on the highly successful series.
In the early Sixties, Defore found himself as a prominently featured player on the NBC-TV sitcom Hazel, starring Shirley Booth as a maid who runs the family she works for. Defore played “Mr. B.,” Hazel’s employer.
OK, on to the answers to our Don Defore Quiz.
1) Question: DeFore didn’t often get to slap around his leading ladies but does so in 1949’s Too Late For Tears, a celebrated film noir in which he manhandles a very nasty Lizabeth Scott. a) True; or b) False. (P.S. That’s Scott holding Don at bay below.)
1) Answer: b) False. Although DeFore portrays an ambiguous character of dubious virtue, he doesn’t get a chance to manhandle star Scott. Her character is smarter and far more insidious than his. Scott is slapped around in the picture by costar Dan Duryea, famous for playing nasty thugs who do such things. (Offscreen, Duryea was a family man and real pussycat.)
2) Question: Although he was passed over as “not star material” by at least two studios. DeFore was in the mid Forties was voted among the top five “stars of tomorrow” by national movie exhibitors. a) True; or b) False.
2) Answer: a) True.
3) Question: Which one of the following did DeFore NOT costar with on the big screen? a) Jerry Lewis; b) Spencer Tracy; c) Van Johnson; or d) Tyrone Power.
3) Answer: d) Tyrone Power. DeFore appeared with Tracy and Johnson in 1944’s Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, and with Lewis in 1949’s My Friend Irma.
4) Question: DeFore’s most prominent tv role was in a sitcom involving a former bandleader. Can you name him and the name of the show?
4) Answer: See introduction above.
5) Question: DeFore was highly active in official industry organizations related to film and tv. Which of the following was he NOT involved in? a) National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; b) Actors Equity; c) American delegate to the Moscow Film Festival; or d) Screen Actors Guild.
5) Answer: b) Actors Equity, the stage performers’ union. DeFore at one time or another was active in all other organizations.