Another of the Golden Era’s prime villains. And often in Westerns. And he was sometimes overlooked entirely by movie audiences. (Their loss!) He also went by the first name of Douglas (see below), although we here have stuck with the extra s.
Our man was Canadian, born in 1889 in Hamilton, Ontario. Like most character actors, Douglass Dumbrille worked his way through various jobs early on (in his case, bank clerk) before plunging in as an actor. That happened in about 1915 when the actor made his debut in what must have been a silent (What Eighty Million Women Want).
Then came several years of taking any job he could on the New York stage. A move to the West Coast during the Great Depression brought him to the attention of Hollywood, and given his native talents — a soothing voice, sharp features (particularly that schnozz) — a wealth of solid supporting parts awaited.
Dumbrille was cast as — pick one — a slick politician, corrupt businessman, crooked sheriff or unscrupulous lawyer or another unsavory character. He relished the parts, and he delivered. Such luminaries as Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Capra and Hal Roach took notice.
There he is (to the left with shaved head) as priest/magician Jannes in DeMille’s 1956 Biblical epic, The Ten Commandments.
And as, what else?, a sheriff in 1945’s The Daltons Ride Again.
Sometime overlooked was Dumbrille’s facility at playing comedy. Here he as a Sheik in 1950’s Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion.
And (upper right) alongside the Marx Brothers in 1937’s A Day At The Races.
In all, Dumbrille appeared in more than 200 movie and tv productions over a 35-year-period. Among them was…
In this 1946 mystery/thriller, Dumbrille plays a suave, aristocratic type (see below) who figures prominently in the picture’s dramatically violent end.
Final note: After 47 years of marriage, Dumbrille’s first his first wife died in 1957. Three year later actor created something of a stir by marrying Patricia Mowbray.
He was 70 at the time, she was 28.
Age doesn’t mean a blasted thing, said Dumbrille. He was right. The couple remained happily wed until the actor’s death in 1974 of a heart attack.
Mobray is the daughter of fellow actor Alan Mowbray, who heartily approved the marriage.