An agreeable juvenile lead who managed to shift into a convincing career in character parts, James Dunn was born in Harlem and started his professional life selling lunch wagons to vendors in New Rochelle, New York. Overtaken by the acting bug, he began getting bit parts at Paramount's Astoria studios in the late 1920s. In 1930 he appeared in two Broadway shows, "The Nightstick" and Helen Morgan's "Sweet Adeline". Signed by Fox in 1931, he made 22 films for them (and several loan-outs) in five years. His first, the melodrama "Bad Girl", shot him to overnight fame and assured the continuance of his Fox contract (if not superstardom). Most of his films there were pleasant, forgettable programmers, and his co-stars included everyone on the Fox lot: Sally Eilers (six films, including his first), Peggy Shannon and Spencer Tracy ("Society Girl", 1932), Ginger Rogers and Janet Gaynor ("Change of Heart", 1934), Alice Faye ("365 Nights in Hollywood", 1934, and "George White's 1935 Scandals"). He is best-remembered in his early days for four 1934 co-starring roles with a very young Shirley Temple, notably in "Baby Take a Bow" and the delightful "Stand Up and Cheer".