J. Farrell MacDonald

J. Farrell MacDonald

  • Born on
    • June 6th, 1875
  • Died on
    • August 2nd, 1952
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia John Farrell MacDonald (June 6, 1875 – August 2, 1952) was an American character actor and director. He played supporting roles and occasional leads. He appeared in over 325 films over a 41-year career from 1911 to 1951, and directed forty-four silent films from 1912 to 1917. MacDonald was the principal director of L. Frank Baum's Oz Film Manufacturing Company, and he can frequently be seen in the films of Frank Capra, Preston Sturges and, especially, John Ford. Early in his career, MacDonald was a singer in minstrel shows, and he toured the United States extensively for two years with stage productions. He made his first silent film in 1911, a dramatic short entitled The Scarlett Letter made by Carl Laemmle's Independent Moving Pictures Company (IMP), the forerunner of Universal Pictures,. He continued to act in numerous films each year from that time on, and by 1912 he was directing them as well. The first film he directed was The Worth of a Man, another dramatic short, again for IMP, and he was to direct 43 more films until his last in 1917, Over the Fence, which he co-directed with Harold Lloyd. MacDonald had crossed paths with Lloyd several years earlier, when Lloyd was an extra and MacDonald had given him much-needed work – and he did the same with Hal Roach, both of whom appearing in small roles in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, which MacDonald directed in 1914. When Roach set up his own studio, with Lloyd as his principal attraction, he hired MacDonald to direct. By 1918, MacDonald, who was to become one of the most beloved character men in Hollywood, had given up directing and was acting full-time, predominantly in Westerns and Irish comedies. He first worked under director John Ford in 1919's A Fight for Love. In all, Ford would use MacDonald on twenty-five films between 1919 and 1950. With a voice that matched his personality, MacDonald made the transition to sound films easily, with no noticeable drop in his acting output – if anything, it went up. In 1931, for instance, MacDonald appeared in 14 films – among them the first version of The Maltese Falcon, in which he played "Detective Tom Polhaus" – and in 22 of them in 1932. Although he played laborers, policemen, military men and priests, among many other characters, his roles were usually a cut above a "bit part". His characters usually had names, and he was most often credited for his performances. A highlight of this period was his performance as the hobo "Mr. Tramp" in Our Little Girl with Shirley Temple (1935). In the 1940s, MacDonald was part of Preston Sturges' unofficial "stock company" of character actors, appearing in seven films written and directed by Sturges. MacDonald appeared in Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, The Great Moment, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, Unfaithfully Yours and The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, Sturges' last American film. Earlier, MacDonald had also appeared in The Power and the Glory, which Sturges wrote. His work on Sturges' films was generally uncredited. He was notable in 1946 in John Ford's My Darling Clementine in which he played "Mac," the bartender in the town saloon. MacDonald also had uncredited roles in It's a Wonderful Life and Here Comes The Groom.

Starring J. Farrell MacDonald on Plex


Acting (54 Credits)

1951Superman and the Mole-Men as Pop Shannon
1951Here Comes the Groom as Husband on Airplane
1950Woman on the Run as Cap, the Retired Ferryboat Captain
1948Whispering Smith as Bill Baggs
1947The Sin of Harold Diddlebock as Desk Sergeant (uncredited)
1947Christmas Eve as Policeman (uncredited)
1947The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer as Mac, Bailiff (uncredited)
1946My Darling Clementine as Mac the barman
1946It's a Wonderful Life as Man Whose Grandfather Planted Tree (uncredited)
1945Johnny Angel as Capt. Angel
1945Pillow of Death
1945Hangover Square as Street Vendor (uncredited)
1945A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as Mr. Carney The Junkman (uncredited)
1945Fallen Angel as Bank Guard (uncredited)
1944The Great Moment as The Priest
1943The Ape Man as Captain
1943The Miracle of Morgan's Creek as Sheriff (uncredited)
1942The Living Ghost as Police Lt. 'Pete' Peterson
1942Bowery at Midnight as Capt. Mitchell
1942Captains of the Clouds as Dr. Neville (from Churchtown)
1942Reap the Wild Wind as Port Captain
1942The Palm Beach Story as Officer O'Donnell (uncredited)
1941In Old Cheyenne as Tim Casey
1941Meet John Doe as 'Sourpuss'
1941The Great Lie as Dr. Ferguson
1940Dark Command as Dave
1939Susannah of the Mounties as Pat O'Hannegan
1939Zenobia as Judge
1938There Goes My Heart as Officer
1937Topper as Policeman (as J. Farrell McDonald)
1937Parnell as Irish Laborer (uncredited)
1936Riffraff as 'Brains'
1936Show Boat as Windy MacLaine
1935Romance in Manhattan as Officer Murphy
1935Star of Midnight as Inspector Doremus
1935The Irish in Us as Capt. Jackson
1935The Whole Town's Talking as Prison Warden (uncredited)
1935Front Page Woman as Hallohan
1933Peg o' My Heart as Patrick Shamus 'Pat' O'Connell
1933The Working Man as Henry 'Hank' Davis
1933The Power and the Glory as Mulligan
1932The Thirteenth Guest as Captain Ryan
1932Me and My Gal as Pop Riley
1932No Man of Her Own as 'Dickie' Collins
1932The Hurricane Express as Jim Baker
1931The Painted Desert as Jeff Cameron
1931Other Men's Women as Peg-Leg
1931The Maltese Falcon as Det. Sgt. Tom Polhaus
1931The Millionaire as Dan Lewis
1931The Stolen Jools as Policeman
1928In Old Arizona as Stage Passenger (uncredited)
1927Sunrise as The Photographer
19263 Bad Men as Mike Costigan
1924The Iron Horse as Corporal Casey


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