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
Movie Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident President Dwight D. Eisenhower 1976-09-29
Series The Brady Bunch Unknown 1969-09-26
Movie In Cold Blood Clarence Duntz 1967-12-14
Movie Good Times Detective Lieutenant 1967-05-05
Series The Addams Family Unknown 1964-09-18
Series Mr. Novak Unknown 1963-09-24
Series Burke's Law Unknown 1963-09-20
Series The Lucy Show Unknown 1962-10-01
Series The New Breed Unknown 1961-10-03
Series Dr. Kildare Unknown 1961-09-27
Series Mister Ed Unknown 1961-01-05
Series COronado 9 Unknown 1960-09-06
Series Surfside 6 Unknown 1960-10-06
Series The Roaring 20's 1960-10-15
Series The Twilight Zone Truck Driver 1959-10-02
Movie Johnny Rocco Mooney 1958-12-21
Series Man with a Camera 1958-10-10
Series The Rifleman Unknown 1958-09-30
Movie Night Passage Tim Riley 1957-07-24
Series Richard Diamond, Private Detective Unknown 1957-07-01
Movie Footsteps in the Night Mr. Bradbury 1957-04-14
Movie Hold That Hypnotist Jake Morgan 1957-02-24
Series State Trooper Unknown 1956-09-25
Movie Francis in the Haunted House Police Chief Martin 1956-08-01
Movie Never Say Goodbye Timmy 1956-03-10
Series The Millionaire Unknown 1955-01-19
Series Alfred Hitchcock Presents Unknown 1955-10-02
Movie The Naked Street Attorney Michael X. Flanders 1955-08-01
Movie Apache Ambush Col. Marshall 1955-08-24
Series Climax! Unknown 1954-10-07
Movie Massacre Canyon Col. Tarant 1954-05-01
Movie Trouble Along the Way Coach Buck Holman 1953-04-04
Series General Electric Theater Unknown 1953-02-01
Movie I Beheld His Glory Longinus 1953-03-31
Movie Star of Texas Texas Rangers Capt. Sturdivant 1953-01-11
Movie Abbott and Costello Go to Mars First Policeman in Bank 1953-04-05
Series Letter to Loretta Unknown 1953-09-20
Movie Hot News Al Bragg 1953-10-11
Movie The Eddie Cantor Story Kelly 1953-12-25
Movie Million Dollar Mermaid Conductor 1952-12-04
Series Cavalcade of America Unknown 1952-10-01
Series Dangerous Assignment Unknown 1952-01-01
Series Hallmark Hall of Fame Unknown 1951-12-24
Series Racket Squad Unknown 1951-06-07
Movie Fighting Coast Guard Commander Rogers 1951-05-31
Movie Follow the Sun Henry Gibbs 1951-05-22
Movie According to Mrs. Hoyle Prosecuting Attorney 1951-05-20
Movie Oh, Susanna Capt. Worth 1951-03-01
Movie Operation Pacific SP Commander 1951-01-27
Movie Dakota Lil Secret Service Chief 1950-02-17
Movie Rock Island Trail Railroad Workman 1950-05-18
Movie Armored Car Robbery Lt. Phillips 1950-06-08
Movie Destination Murder Police Lt. Brewster 1950-06-09
Series Lux Video Theatre Unknown 1950-10-02
Movie Prison Warden Guard Capt. Peter Butler 1949-10-29
Movie Blondie Hits the Jackpot Brophy 1949-10-01
Movie Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff Insp. Wellman 1949-09-18
Movie Mighty Joe Young Schultz 1949-07-27
Movie Homicide Det. Lt. Boylan 1949-04-02
Movie Shockproof Policeman in Park (uncredited) 1949-01-25
Movie One Touch of Venus 1948-01-08
Movie The Plunderers Sergeant Major 1948-10-30
Movie Bungalow 13 Lt. Sam Wilson 1948-11-19
Movie Sleep, My Love Lt. Mitchell 1948-02-18
Movie Song of the Thin Man Policeman Reardon 1947-08-28
Movie Desert Fury Sheriff Pat Johnson 1947-08-15
Movie Robin Hood Of Texas Captain Danforth 1947-07-15
Movie Dishonored Lady Police Sgt. Patella 1947-05-16
Movie It Happened on Fifth Avenue First Policeman (uncredited) 1947-04-19
Movie Nora Prentiss District Attorney 1947-02-22
Movie The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Detective #1 1946-07-24
Movie Tars and Spars Chief Bosun Mate Gurney 1946-01-10
Movie Sentimental Journey Detective Sgt. McFarland (uncredited) 1946-03-06
Movie Boys Ranch Policeman 1946-07-18
Movie Rendezvous with Annie Turnkey 1946-07-22
Movie Easy to Wed Joe 1946-07-25
Movie The Missing Lady Police Insp. Cardona 1946-08-17
Movie Step By Step Motorcycle Cop 1946-08-23
Movie Angel on My Shoulder Bellamy 1946-09-20
Movie Cloak and Dagger Col. Walsh 1946-09-28
Movie Nobody Lives Forever Shake Thomas 1946-11-01
Movie Mildred Pierce Detective (uncredited) 1945-10-20
Movie Charlie Chan in The Shanghai Cobra H.R. Jarvis 1945-09-29
Movie Anchors Aweigh Radio Cop 1945-07-14
Movie Circumstantial Evidence Guard 1945-04-22
Movie Murder, He Says Police Officer 1945-01-01
Movie Uncertain Glory Captain of Mobile Guard 1944-01-01
Movie Christmas Holiday Policeman (uncredited) 1944-01-01
Movie Once Upon a Time Man in Subway 1944-06-29
Movie Abroad with Two Yanks Sgt. Wiggins 1944-08-04
Movie Strange Affair Bank Security Guard 1944-10-05
Movie Laura Det. McEveety (uncredited) 1944-10-11
Movie Corvette K-225 1st Lt. Bill Gardner 1943-09-29
Movie Murder On The Waterfront Cmdr. Kalin 1943-09-18
Movie So Proudly We Hail Capt. O'Brien 1943-09-08
Movie I Dood It Federal Agent (uncredited) 1943-09-01
Movie Heaven Can Wait Policeman 1943-08-11
Movie Action in the North Atlantic Merchant Marine School Lieutenant-Commander 1943-06-12
Movie Mission to Moscow American Senator 1943-05-22
Movie Air Force Maj. A.M. Bagley 1943-03-20
Movie Something to Shout About Policeman 1943-02-25
Movie A Yank on the Burma Road Police Dispatcher 1942-01-29
Movie Treat 'Em Rough Joe Trosper 1942-01-30
Movie Ride 'Em Cowboy Railroad Detective #2 1942-02-13
Movie Tough as They Come Process Server 1942-06-05
Movie Fingers at the Window Police Lieutenant Schaeffer 1942-04-22
Movie Ten Gentlemen From West Point Capt. Luddy 1942-06-26
Movie Gentleman Jim George Corbett (uncredited) 1942-11-14
Movie Thru Different Eyes Thomas 1942-06-19
Movie Manpower Orderly 1941-08-09
Movie Four Mothers Demolition Man (uncredited) 1941-01-04
Movie Western Union Deputy Sheriff 1941-02-21
Movie Ride on Vaquero Officer Johnson 1941-04-18
Movie Affectionately Yours Tomassetti 1941-05-10
Movie Wild Man of Borneo Policeman 1941-01-24
Movie Belle Starr Sergeant 1941-09-12
Movie Hold Back the Dawn Immigration Guard (uncredited) 1941-09-26
Movie Texas Abilene Fight Announcer 1941-10-09
Movie I Wake Up Screaming Detective (uncredited) 1941-10-31
Movie New York Town Recruiting Sergeant (uncredited) 1941-10-31
Movie The Night of January 16th Policeman Kelly 1941-11-28
Movie We Go Fast Police Lt. Bardette 1941-09-19
Movie The Grapes of Wrath Guard (uncredited) 1940-03-15
Movie Girl in 313 Det. Carvin 1940-05-30
Movie Johnny Apollo Prison Guard 1940-04-19
Movie It All Came True Roaring 90's Club Doorman 1940-04-06
Movie And One Was Beautiful McRafferty - Jail Guard 1940-04-05
Movie Broadway Melody of 1940 Clancy 1940-02-09
Movie Women Without Names Guard 1940-03-14
Movie Double Alibi Patrolman Johnson 1940-03-01
Movie Castle on the Hudson Death Row Guard 1940-02-17
Movie The Fighting 69th Supply Sergeant 1940-01-27
Movie Remember the Night Court Attendant (uncredited) 1940-01-01
Movie Florian Policeman 1940-06-05
Movie La Conga Nights Grogin 1940-05-31
Movie South of Pago Pago Cafe Customer 1940-07-19
Movie Brother Orchid Parking Attendant at Fat Dutchy's 1940-06-08
Movie The Great Profile Detective 1940-08-30
Movie Tin Pan Alley Army Sergeant 1940-11-29
Movie The Long Voyage Home Dock Policeman 1940-11-11
Movie The Ghost Breakers Hotel Porter 1940-06-21
Movie North West Mounted Police Mountie 1940-10-22
Movie Knute Rockne All American Army Assistant Coach 1940-10-05
Movie The Devil's Pipeline Dowling 1940-10-31
Movie Rhythm on the River Detective 1940-08-28
Movie When the Daltons Rode Annabella's Brother 1940-08-23
Movie The Golden Fleecing Cop 1940-08-16
Movie The Way of All Flesh Policeman 1940-07-05
Movie Lucky Cisco Kid Ranch Foreman 1940-06-28
Movie The Gracie Allen Murder Case Turnkey 1939-06-02
Movie Jesse James Cavalry Captain 1939-01-14
Movie The Ice Follies of 1939 Doorman 1939-03-10
Movie Everybody's Baby Police Announcer (uncredited) 1939-03-24
Movie Sergeant Madden Police Interrogator 1939-03-24
Movie Code of the Streets Doorman 1939-04-13
Movie Big Town Czar George Mitchell 1939-05-03
Movie Rose of Washington Square Guard 1939-05-05
Movie Union Pacific Paddy (uncredited) 1939-05-05
Movie When Tomorrow Comes Coast Guard Man on Road 1939-08-11
Movie Tell No Tales Officer Simmons 1939-06-12
Movie They All Come Out Officer (uncredited) 1939-08-04
Movie They Shall Have Music Police Sergeant (uncredited) 1939-08-18
Movie Each Dawn I Die Policeman 1939-08-19
Movie Irish Luck Fluger 1939-08-22
Movie Fast and Furious Policeman Guarding Entrance 1939-10-06
Movie The Roaring Twenties 1939-10-23
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 Mr. Wong in Chinatown Police Sgt. Jerry 1939-08-01
Movie Alexander's Ragtime Band Army Captain (uncredited) 1938-05-24
Movie Everybody's Doing It Detective Hayes 1938-01-14
Movie Mannequin Burly Man (uncredited) 1938-01-21
Movie Night Spot Kidnapper 1938-02-25
Movie Start Cheering Gas Station Attendant 1938-03-03
Movie Lightning Carson Rides Again Justice Department Agent 1938-10-09
Movie Gateway Guard 1938-08-05
Movie You Can't Take It with You Jailer (uncredited) 1938-08-23
Movie Too Hot to Handle Young Reporter (uncredited) 1938-09-16
Movie Blondie Policeman in Accident Car 1938-11-30
Movie Convicts at Large Detective Sgt. Berkovich 1938-12-14
Movie While New York Sleeps 2nd Cop 1938-12-16
Movie My Dear Miss Aldrich Dr. Spitzy Calahan 1937-05-01
Movie Dangerous Number Cab Driver 1937-01-22
Movie Midnight Taxi Detective McCormick 1937-04-04
Movie I Promise to Pay Bill Seaver 1937-04-21
Movie Hot Water Policeman 1937-09-24
Movie Angel's Holiday Detective 1937-06-07
Movie Live, Love and Learn Marine Who Likes Painting (uncredited) 1937-10-29
Movie Big Town Girl State Trooper 1937-12-03
Movie Dangerously Yours Driver 1937-09-20
Movie They Met in a Taxi Policeman 1936-09-08
Movie Charlie Chan at the Race Track Detective 1936-08-14
Movie Chinatown Squad Detective 1935-05-31
Movie Secrets of Chinatown Brandhma 1935-02-19
Movie Captain Hurricane Freighter Officer 1935-03-01
Movie The Daring Young Man Informant on Telephone 1935-07-17
Movie Woman Wanted Mac - Policeman 1935-08-02
Movie Man on the Flying Trapeze Chauffeur 1935-08-03
Movie Shipmates Forever Lieutenant 1935-10-12
Movie The Brand of Hate Holt Larkins 1934-11-02
Movie Baby Take a Bow Flannigan 1934-06-30
Movie The Big Race Bill Figg 1934-02-14
Movie Ship of Wanted Men Frank Busch 1933-09-08
Movie Riot Squad Det. Mack McCue 1933-07-25
Movie Hello, Sister! Fireman 1933-04-14
Movie King Kong Mate Briggs 1933-04-07
Movie The Most Dangerous Game First Mate on Yacht (uncredited) 1932-09-16
Movie The Airmail Mystery Bob Lee 1932-03-28