Monday, April 12, 2010
Celebrity Grave: James Gleason, Actor, Playwright, Screenwriter
James Austin Gleason (May 23, 1882 – April 12, 1959) was an American actor born in New York City. He was also a playwright and screenwriter.
Balding and slender with a craggy voice and a master of the double-take, Gleason portrayed tough but warm-hearted characters, usually with a New York background. He appeared in several movies with his wife Lucille.
Gleason co-wrote The Broadway Melody, the second film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and had a small uncredited role in it. Gleason also co-wrote and briefly appeared as a hot dog vendor in the 1934 Janet Gaynor vehicle Change of Heart. He played a milk cart driver who gives lessons in marriage to Judy Garland and Robert Walker in the 1945 film, The Clock, while Lucille played his wife. In the same year, he played the bartender in the film adaptation of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Gleason also is remembered for playing police Inspector Oscar Piper in a series of Hildegarde Withers mystery films during the 1930s (which first starred Edna May Oliver in the role of the schoolteacher detective in three films. Helen Broderick starred in one and Zasu Pitts finished out the series with two movies.)
He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as boxing manager Max 'Pop' Corkle in the 1941 film, Here Comes Mr. Jordan.
James and Lucille Gleason had a son, Russell Gleason, who briefly worked as a film actor before being drafted into the army during World War Two. He died after accidentally falling out the window of a Manhattan hotel shortly before his regiment was due to leave for a combat posting in Europe. Russell Gleason was married to Cynthia Lindsay, a former Busby Berkeley chorus girl who later wrote a biography of family friend Boris Karloff.
Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.