Image of James Flavin

James Flavin

American character actor whose career lasted nearly half a century. James Wilson Flavin Jr. was the son of a hotel waiter of Canadian-English extraction and a mother, Katherine, whose father was an Irish immigrant. (Thus Flavin, well-known in Hollywood as an "Irish" type, was only one-quarter Irish.) Flavin was born and raised in Portland, Maine (a fact that may have enrichened his later working relationship with director John Ford, also a Portland native). He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, but (contrary to some sources) did not graduate. Instead he dropped out and returned to Portland where he drove a taxi. Then as now, summer stock companies flocked to Maine each year, and in 1929 he was asked to fill in for an actor. He did well with the part and the company manager offered him $150 per week to go with the troupe back to New York. Flavin accepted and by the spring of 1930 was living in a rooming house at 108 W. 87th Street in Manhattan. Flavin didn't manage to crack Broadway at this time (his Broadway debut would not occur for another thirty-nine years, in the 1971 revival of "The Front Page," in which Flavin played Murphy and briefly took over the lead role of Walter Burns from star Robert Ryan). He worked his way across the country in stock productions and tours, arriving in Los Angeles around 1932. He quickly made the transition to movies, landing the lead in his very first film, a Universal serial, The Airmail Mystery (1932). He also landed his leading lady, marrying the serial's female star Lucile Browne that same year. However, the serial marked virtually the last time that Flavin would play the lead in a film. Thereafter, he was restricted almost exclusively to supporting characters, many of them without so much as a name. He specialized in uniformed cops and hard-bitten detectives, but played chauffeurs, cabbies, and even a 16th-century palace guard with aplomb. Flavin appeared in nearly four hundred films between 1932 and 1971, and in almost a hundred television episodes before his final appearance, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident (1976). Flavin died of a heart ailment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on April 23, 1976. His widow Lucile died seventeen days later. They were survived by their son, William James Flavin, subsequently a professor at the United States Army War College. James and Lucile Brown Flavin were buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

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May 14, 1906 In Portland, Maine, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie The Airmail Mystery 1932-03-28
Latest Project:
Movie Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident 1976-09-29
Known For
Poster of The Twilight Zone
Poster of A Yank on the Burma Road
Poster of You Can't Take It with You
Poster of They Met in a Taxi
Movie Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident President Dwight D. Eisenhower 1976-09-29
Movie Good Times Detective Lieutenant 1967-05-05
Movie In Cold Blood Clarence Duntz 1967-12-15
Series The Addams Family Unknown 1964-09-18
Movie Cheyenne Autumn Ft. Robinson Sergeant of the Guard 1964-10-03
Series Burke's Law Unknown 1963-09-20
Series Mr. Novak Unknown 1963-09-24
Series Sam Benedict Unknown 1962-09-15
Series Cain's Hundred Unknown 1961-09-19
Series Dr. Kildare Unknown 1961-09-27
Series The Twilight Zone Truck Driver 1959-10-02
Series The Rifleman Unknown 1958-09-30
Series Man with a Camera 1958-10-10
Movie Johnny Rocco Mooney 1958-12-21
Movie Hold That Hypnotist Jake Morgan 1957-02-24
Movie Footsteps in the Night Mr. Bradbury 1957-04-14
Movie The Restless Breed Secret Service Chief 1957-05-01
Movie Night Passage Tim Riley 1957-07-24
Movie Never Say Goodbye Timmy 1956-03-10
Movie Francis in the Haunted House Police Chief Martin 1956-08-01
Movie The Naked Street Attorney Michael X. Flanders 1955-08-01
Movie Apache Ambush Col. Marshall 1955-08-24
Movie Mister Roberts Military Policeman 1955-07-10
Series Matinee Theater Unknown 1955-10-31
Series Alfred Hitchcock Presents Unknown 1955-10-02
Movie Massacre Canyon Col. Tarant 1954-05-01
Series December Bride Unknown 1954-10-04
Series General Electric Theater Unknown 1953-02-01
Movie Star of Texas Texas Rangers Capt. Sturdivant 1953-01-11
Series City Detective Unknown 1953-01-01
Movie I Beheld His Glory Longinus 1953-03-31
Movie Trouble Along the Way Coach Buck Holman 1953-04-04
Movie Hot News Al Bragg 1953-10-11
Movie Abbott and Costello Go to Mars First Policeman in Bank 1953-04-06
Movie The Eddie Cantor Story Kelly 1953-12-25
Series Cavalcade of America Unknown 1952-10-01
Movie According to Mrs. Hoyle Prosecuting Attorney 1951-05-20
Movie Oh, Susanna Capt. Worth 1951-03-01
Movie Follow the Sun Henry Gibbs 1951-05-22
Series Hallmark Hall of Fame Unknown 1951-12-24
Movie Fighting Coast Guard Commander Rogers 1951-05-31
Movie Rhubarb O'Leary, Manhattan Police Chief (uncredited) 1951-08-29
Series Racket Squad Unknown 1951-06-07
Movie Dakota Lil Secret Service Chief 1950-02-17
Movie Rock Island Trail Railroad Workman 1950-05-18
Movie Destination Murder Police Lt. Brewster 1950-06-09
Movie Armored Car Robbery Lt. Phillips 1950-06-08
Series Lux Video Theatre Unknown 1950-10-02
Movie Homicide Det. Lt. Boylan 1949-04-02
Movie Mighty Joe Young Schultz 1949-07-27
Movie Shockproof Policeman in Park (uncredited) 1949-01-25
Movie Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff Insp. Wellman 1949-08-22
Movie Prison Warden Guard Capt. Peter Butler 1949-10-29
Movie Blondie Hits the Jackpot Brophy 1949-09-08
Movie The Noose Hangs High Traffic Cop (uncredited) 1948-04-05
Movie Sleep, My Love Lieutenant Mitchell 1948-02-18
Movie Secret Service Investigator Police Inspector Thorndyke 1948-05-31
Movie One Touch of Venus Kerrigan 1948-08-01
Movie The Plunderers Sergeant Major 1948-10-30
Movie Bungalow 13 Lt. Sam Wilson 1948-11-19
Movie It Happened on Fifth Avenue First Policeman (uncredited) 1947-04-17
Movie My Favorite Brunette Det. Lt. 'Mac' Hennessey (uncredited) 1947-03-19
Movie Dishonored Lady Police Sergeant Patella 1947-05-16
Movie Nora Prentiss District Attorney 1947-02-22
Movie Robin Hood Of Texas Captain Danforth 1947-07-15
Movie Song of the Thin Man Policeman Reardon (uncredited) 1947-08-28
Movie Desert Fury Sheriff Pat Johnson 1947-08-15
Movie Rendezvous with Annie Turnkey 1946-07-22
Movie Boys Ranch Policeman 1946-07-18
Movie Young Widow Subway Conductor (Uncredited) 1946-03-01
Movie Tars and Spars Chief Bosun Mate Gurney 1946-01-10
Movie Easy to Wed Joe 1946-07-25
Movie Sentimental Journey Detective Sgt. McFarland (uncredited) 1946-03-06
Movie The Missing Lady Police Insp. Cardona 1946-08-17
Movie Nobody Lives Forever Shake Thomas 1946-11-01
Movie The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Police Detective #1 1946-08-19
Movie Cloak and Dagger Col. Walsh 1946-09-28
Movie Angel on My Shoulder Bellamy 1946-09-20
Movie Step by Step Motorcycle Cop 1946-08-23
Movie Circumstantial Evidence Guard 1945-04-20
Movie Over 21 Captain (uncredited) 1945-08-08
Movie Murder, He Says Police Officer 1945-01-01
Movie The Spider Officer Johnny Tracy 1945-12-01
Movie Anchors Aweigh Radio Cop 1945-08-13
Movie Mildred Pierce Detective (uncredited) 1945-10-20
Movie The Shanghai Cobra H.R. Jarvis 1945-09-29
Movie Christmas Holiday Policeman (uncredited) 1944-01-01
Movie Once Upon a Time Man in Subway 1944-06-29
Movie Uncertain Glory Captain of Mobile Guard 1944-04-07
Movie Abroad with Two Yanks Sgt. Wiggins 1944-08-04
Movie Hollywood Canteen Marine Sergeant (uncredited) 1944-12-15
Movie Strange Affair Bank Security Guard (Uncredited) 1944-10-05
Movie Action in the North Atlantic Merchant Marine School Lieutenant-Commander (uncredited) 1943-06-12
Movie Mission to Moscow American Senator (uncredited) 1943-04-29
Movie It Ain't Hay Cop (uncredited) 1943-03-10
Movie Heaven Can Wait Policeman (uncredited) 1943-08-05
Movie Something to Shout About Policeman 1943-02-25
Movie Air Force Maj. A.M. Bagley 1943-03-20
Movie Murder on the Waterfront Cmdr. Kalin 1943-09-18
Movie I Dood It Federal Agent (uncredited) 1943-09-01
Movie Swing Shift Maisie Radio Policeman (Uncredited) 1943-10-01
Movie Riding High Train Conductor 1943-11-11
Movie Corvette K-225 1st Lt. Bill Gardner 1943-09-29
Movie So Proudly We Hail Captain O'Brien (Uncredited) 1943-09-09
Movie Tough as They Come Process Server 1942-06-05
Movie Ride 'Em Cowboy Railroad Detective #2 (uncredited) 1942-02-13
Movie A Yank on the Burma Road Police Dispatcher 1942-01-29
Movie Treat 'Em Rough Joe Trosper 1942-01-30
Movie Kid Glove Killer Keenan - Detective Grilling Eddie 1942-04-17
Movie Thru Different Eyes Thomas 1942-06-19
Movie Night in New Orleans Egan (Uncredited) 1942-07-01
Movie Gentleman Jim George Corbett (uncredited) 1942-11-14
Movie Ten Gentlemen from West Point Capt. Luddy 1942-06-26
Movie Ride on Vaquero Officer Johnson 1941-04-18
Movie Ziegfeld Girl Buck (Uncredited) 1941-04-25
Movie Pot o' Gold Sheriff Bud Connolly 1941-04-03
Movie Four Mothers Demolition Man (uncredited) 1941-01-04
Movie Affectionately Yours Tomassetti 1941-05-10
Movie The Wild Man of Borneo Policeman 1941-01-24
Movie Buck Privates Recruiting Sergeant (uncredited) 1941-01-31
Movie Western Union Deputy Sheriff 1941-02-21
Movie I Wake Up Screaming Detective (uncredited) 1941-10-31
Movie The Night of January 16th Policeman Kelly 1941-11-28
Movie Manpower Orderly 1941-08-09
Movie Texas Abilene Fight Announcer 1941-10-09
Movie New York Town Recruiting Sergeant (uncredited) 1941-10-31
Movie We Go Fast Police Lt. Bardette 1941-09-19
Movie Belle Starr Sergeant 1941-09-12
Movie Hold Back the Dawn Immigration Guard (uncredited) 1941-09-26
Movie It All Came True Roaring 90's Club Doorman (uncredited) 1940-04-06
Movie And One Was Beautiful McRafferty 1940-04-05
Movie Johnny Apollo Prison Guard In Library (uncredited) 1940-04-19
Movie Girl in 313 Det. Carvin 1940-05-31
Movie The Grapes of Wrath Guard (uncredited) 1940-03-15
Movie Florian Policeman 1940-06-05
Movie La Conga Nights Grogin 1940-05-31
Movie The Fighting 69th Supply Sergeant (uncredited) 1940-01-27
Movie Remember the Night Court Attendant (uncredited) 1940-01-01
Movie Brother Orchid Parking Attendant at Fat Dutchy's (uncredited) 1940-06-07
Movie Broadway Melody of 1940 Clancy (uncredited) 1940-02-09
Movie Castle on the Hudson Death Row Guard (uncredited) 1940-02-17
Movie Double Alibi Patrolman Johnson 1940-03-01
Movie Women Without Names Guard 1940-03-14
Movie The Golden Fleecing Cop 1940-08-16
Movie Knute Rockne All American Army Assistant Coach (uncredited) 1940-10-05
Movie The Great Profile Detective 1940-08-30
Movie North West Mounted Police Mountie 1940-10-22
Movie The Ghost Breakers Hotel Porter (uncredited) 1940-06-21
Movie Tin Pan Alley Army Sergeant (uncredited) 1940-11-29
Movie The Long Voyage Home Dock Policeman 1940-11-16
Movie Rhythm on the River Detective 1940-08-28
Movie The Devil's Pipeline Dowling 1940-10-31
Movie Lucky Cisco Kid Ranch Foreman 1940-06-28
Movie When the Daltons Rode Annabella's Brother 1940-08-23
Movie The Way of All Flesh Policeman 1940-07-05
Movie Queen of the Mob Third FBI Director 1940-06-28
Movie South of Pago Pago Cafe Customer 1940-07-19
Movie Rose of Washington Square Guard (uncredited) 1939-05-05
Movie The Gracie Allen Murder Case Turnkey 1939-06-02
Movie Big Town Czar George Mitchell 1939-05-03
Movie Union Pacific Paddy (uncredited) 1939-05-05
Movie Everybody's Baby Police Announcer (uncredited) 1939-03-24
Movie Tell No Tales Officer Simmons 1939-06-12
Movie Jesse James Cavalry Captain (uncredited) 1939-01-14
Movie The Ice Follies of 1939 Doorman (Uncredited) 1939-03-10
Movie Sergeant Madden Police Interrogator 1939-03-24
Movie Code of the Streets Doorman 1939-04-13
Movie They All Come Out Officer (uncredited) 1939-08-04
Movie Fast and Furious Policeman Guarding Entrance (uncredited) 1939-10-06
Movie Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President Policeman 1939-12-01
Movie The Cisco Kid and the Lady Sergeant 1939-12-29
Movie Mickey the Kid Sanders 1939-07-03
Movie Irish Luck Fluger 1939-08-22
Movie The Roaring Twenties Policeman (uncredited) 1939-10-28
Movie They Shall Have Music Police Sergeant (uncredited) 1939-08-18
Movie Mr. Wong in Chinatown Police Sgt. Jerry 1939-08-01
Movie When Tomorrow Comes Coast Guard Man on Road 1939-08-11
Movie Each Dawn I Die Policeman (uncredited) 1939-07-22
Movie Start Cheering Gas Station Attendant 1938-03-03
Movie Alexander's Ragtime Band Army Captain (uncredited) 1938-05-24
Movie Everybody's Doing It Detective Hayes 1938-01-14
Movie Gateway Guard 1938-08-05
Movie Night Spot Kidnapper 1938-02-25
Movie Convicts at Large Detective Sgt. Berkovich 1938-12-14
Movie You Can't Take It with You Jailer (uncredited) 1938-09-01
Movie While New York Sleeps 2nd Cop 1938-12-16
Movie The Duke of West Point Plebe Hockey Coach 1938-12-29
Movie Lightning Carson Rides Again Justice Department Agent 1938-10-09
Movie Too Hot to Handle Young Reporter (uncredited) 1938-09-16
Movie I Promise to Pay Bill Seaver 1937-04-21
Movie Midnight Taxi Detective McCormick 1937-04-04
Movie Dangerous Number Cab Driver 1937-01-22
Movie You Only Live Once State Trooper (uncredited) 1937-01-23
Movie Angel's Holiday Detective 1937-06-07
Movie Big Town Girl State Trooper 1937-12-03
Movie My Dear Miss Aldrich Dr. Spitzy Calahan (uncredited) 1937-09-17
Movie Live, Love and Learn Marine Who Likes Painting (uncredited) 1937-10-29
Movie Dangerously Yours Driver 1937-09-21
Movie Charlie Chan at the Race Track Detective 1936-08-07
Movie My Man Godfrey 1936-09-02
Movie They Met in a Taxi Policeman 1936-09-08
Movie Public Hero Number 1 Flavin - Federal Agent (uncredited) 1935-05-31
Movie 'G' Men Agent with Jean (uncredited) 1935-05-04
Movie Captain Hurricane Freighter Officer 1935-03-01
Movie Secrets of Chinatown Brandhma 1935-02-19
Movie Chinatown Squad Detective 1935-05-31
Movie Shipmates Forever Lieutenant (uncredited) 1935-10-12
Movie Special Agent Agent Arresting Julie (uncredited) 1935-09-14
Movie Man on the Flying Trapeze Chauffeur 1935-08-03
Movie Woman Wanted Mac - Policeman (uncredited) 1935-08-02
Movie The Daring Young Man Informant on Telephone 1935-07-17
Movie Baby Take a Bow Flannigan 1934-06-30
Movie The Brand of Hate Holt Larkins 1934-11-02
Movie Hello, Sister! Fireman 1933-04-14
Movie King Kong Mate Briggs 1933-03-15
Movie Riot Squad Det. Mack McCue 1933-07-25
Movie Ship of Wanted Men Frank Busch 1933-09-08
Movie Only Yesterday Billy (Uncredited) 1933-11-01
Movie The Airmail Mystery Bob Lee 1932-03-28
Movie Okay, America! Undetermined Role (uncredited) 1932-09-08
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