Donald O'Connor

Actor, Dancer, Composer
The exuberant singer-dancer-actor Donald O'Connor honed his skills from a young age on the vaudeville circuit as part of a long running family act. His amazing acrobatics, winning personality and incredible comedic ... Read more »
Born: 08/27/1925 in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Filmography

Actor (75)

Mitzi Gaynor: Hollywood's Cockeyed Optimist 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The Nicholas Brothers: Flying High 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Out to Sea 1997 (Movie)

Jonathan (Actor)

Frasier 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Legend to Legend Night 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

That's Entertainment! III 1994 (Movie)

Song Performer (Actor)

Bob Hope: The First Ninety Years 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Strung Along 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The Building 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Toys 1992 (Movie)

Kenneth Zevo (Actor)

Debbie Reynolds' Movie Memories 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Murder, She Wrote 1950 - 1956, 1989 - 1990 (Tv Show)

Actor

A Mouse, a Mystery and Me 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Voice

A Time to Remember 1988 (Movie)

Father Walsh (Actor)

America's Tribute to Bob Hope 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Remembering Bing 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Happy Birthday, Hollywood! 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

True Confessions 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Alice in Wonderland 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

NBC's 60th Anniversary Celebration 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The 58th Annual Academy Awards Presentation 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Alice 1976 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Music of Your Life 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Night of 100 Stars II 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Texaco Star Theater: Opening Night 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Pandemonium 1982 (Movie)

(Actor)

Ragtime 1981 (Movie)

Evelyn's Dance Instructor (Actor)

The All-Star Salute to Mother's Day 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

The Music Mart 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

The Big Fix 1978 (Movie)

(Actor)

Bing!... A 50th Anniversary Gala 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

That's Entertainment! 1973 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Li'l Abner 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

The Donald O'Connor Show 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

ABC Stage '67 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Actor

And Debbie Makes Six 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Actor

That Funny Feeling 1964 (Movie)

Harvey Granson (Actor)

Cry For Happy 1961 (Movie)

Murray Prince (Actor)

DuPont Show of the Month 1957 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

The Donald O'Connor Show 1960 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

The Buster Keaton Story 1957 (Movie)

Buster Keaton (Actor)

Anything Goes 1956 (Movie)

Ted Adams (Actor)

The Colgate Comedy Hour 1950 - 1956 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Donald O'Connor Show 1954 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

There's No Business Like Show Business 1954 (Movie)

Tim Donahue (Actor)

Call Me Madam 1953 (Movie)

Kenneth (Actor)

I Love Melvin 1953 (Movie)

Melvin Hoover (Actor)

Singin' in the Rain 1952 (Movie)

Cosmo Brown (Actor)

Walking My Baby Back Home 1952 (Movie)

(Actor)

Francis 1950 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Merry Monahans 1944 (Movie)

Jimmy Monahan (Actor)

Beau Geste 1938 (Movie)

(Actor)

Anything Goes (Movie)

Ted Adams (Actor)

Brilliant Benjamin Boggs (TV Show)

Actor

Death of a Champion (Movie)

Small Fry (Actor)

Donald's Dublin (TV Show)

Actor

Double Crossbones (Movie)

Dave Crandall (Actor)

Francis Goes to West Point (Movie)

Peter Stirling (Actor)

Francis Goes to the Races (Movie)

Peter Stirling (Actor)

Irving Berlin's America (TV Show)

Actor

Men with Wings (Movie)

Pat Falconer at Age 10 (Actor)

Million Dollar Legs (Movie)

Sticky Boone (Actor)

Sing You Sinners (Movie)

Mike Beebe (Actor)

Something in the Wind (Movie)

Charlie Read (Actor)

The Milkman (Movie)

Roger Bradley (Actor)

Unmarried (Movie)

Ted Streaver at Age 12 (Actor)

Yes Sir, That's My Baby (Movie)

William Waldo Winfield (Actor)

Biography

The exuberant singer-dancer-actor Donald O'Connor honed his skills from a young age on the vaudeville circuit as part of a long running family act. His amazing acrobatics, winning personality and incredible comedic timing were quickly noticed by Hollywood and he was featured in a series of B-pictures from the late 1930s through the 1940s, including "Sing, You Sinners" (1938) with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray, and the popular talking mule comedy "Francis" (1949). However, it was the MGM masterpiece "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) that finally gave O'Connor a first class vehicle for his skills. Even decades after its release, the performer's instantly famous "Make 'em Laugh!" song and dance number remained a knockout. Further assignments in major musicals like "Call Me Madam" (1953) and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954), as well as numerous turns on television variety programs and in stage shows gained him a well deserved following. His abilities were so well known that when gigs in movies or on television were not available to O'Connor, he could easily find work on stage or as a top flight Las Vegas performer. Although O'Connor's career in later years was temporarily derailed by his battles with alcohol and health issues, his incredible smile, winning personality and seemingly boundless energy stayed with him throughout the decades and his best work ranked among the most exhilarating to be found in the golden age of Hollywood musicals.

Relationships

Tichi Noble Wilkerson Miles Kassel

Sister-In-Law
widow of W.R. Wilkerson owner and publisher of THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER until sale of trade paper in 1988

Gwen Carter

Wife
married in 1944 divorced in 1954

Gloria Noble

Wife
married in November 1956

Edward O'Connor

Father

Effie O'Connor

Mother

Alice O'Connor

Daughter
mother, Gloria Noble

Donna O'Connor

Daughter
mother, Gwen Carter

Donald O'Connor

Son
mother, Gloria Noble

Kevin O'Connor

Son
mother, Gloria Noble

Jack O'Connor

Brother
did act with brother Donald for many years

Milestones

1997

Returned to features as a dance instructor in "Out to Sea"

1984

Starred as Cap'n Andy in the Broadway revival of "Show Boat"

1981

Appeared in first book musical on Broadway, the short-lived "Bring Back Birdie"

1974

Was on-screen co-narrator for "That's Entertainment!"

1968

Hosted the short-lived syndicated "The Donald O'Connor Show"

1956

Conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic at premiere performance of his first symphony, "Reflections d'un Comique"

1954

Was Marilyn Monroe's leading man in "There's No Business Like Show Business"

1952

Moved up in status with "Singin' In the Rain"

1950

Made first film with mule co-star, "Francis"

1941

Resumed film career under contract to Universal

1940

Returned to vaudeville

1938

Made solo film debut in "Sing You Sinners"

1937

At age 11, appeared in films for the first time doing a specialty number with his brothers in "Melody for Two"

Has toured in a variety show with Debbie Reynolds

Hosted "The Colgate Comedy Hour" (NBC)

Raised in a vaudeville family

Hosted "The Donald O'Connor Texaco Show"

Bonus Trivia

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On his "Francis" movies, O'Connor told Playbill: "I used to think of it as a bring-down. I'd make a film like 'There's No Business Like Show Business' ... then have to go back and work with a jackass."

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"In vaudeville, we all had to pull together, otherwise we never could have made the jumps. When anybody got sick, you stayed with them in the hotel room. Everybody helped one another. But get out on that stage and they'd try to murder you! There was a healthy competition." --Donald O'Connor in Playbill

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