John Elmer "Jack" Carson (October 27, 1910 – January 2, 1963) was a Canadian-born American-based film actor. Carson was one of the most popular character actors during the "golden age of Hollywood," with a film career spanning the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Though he was primarily used in supporting roles for comic relief, his work in films such as Mildred Pierce (1945) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) displayed his mastery of "straight" dramatic actor roles as well. He worked for RKO and MGM (cast opposite Myrna Loy and William Powell in Love Crazy), but most of his memorable work was for Warner Brothers. His trademark character was the wisecracking know-it-all, typically and inevitably undone by his own smug cockiness.
He was born in Carman, Manitoba, to Elmer and Elsa Carson. In 1914, the family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which he always thought of as his home town. He attended high school at Hartford School, Milwaukee, and St. John's Military Academy, Delafield, but it was at Carleton College that he acquired a taste for acting. Carson became a U.S. citizen in California in 1949.
Because of his size — 6 ft 2 in (1.9 m) and 220 lb (100 kg), his first stage appearance (in a collegiate production) was as Hercules. In the midst of a performance, he tripped and took half the set with him. A college friend, Dave Willock, thought it was so funny he persuaded Carson to team with him in a vaudeville act — Willock and Carson — and a new career was born. This piece of unplanned business would be typical of the sorts of things that tended to happen to Carson in many of his film roles.
During the 1930s, as vaudeville declined from increased competition from radio and the movies, Willock and Carson sought work in Hollywood. Carson initially landed bit roles at RKO Radio Pictures in films such as Bringing Up Baby (1938), starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Radio was another source of employment for the team, starting with a 1938 appearance on the Kraft Music Hall when Bing Crosby hosted the show. This led to a number of other appearances culminating in Carson's own radio show in 1943.
From 1950-51, Jack was one of four alternating weekly hosts of the Wednesday evening NBC Television comedy-variety show Four Star Revue. (The others were veterans Jimmy Durante and Ed Wynn, and up-and-coming young Danny Thomas.) The second season was his last with the show, when it was renamed All Star Revue.
His success in radio led to the start of a lucrative film career. An early standout role for Carson was as a mock-drunk undercover G-Man opposite Richard Cromwell in Universal Pictures's anti-Nazi action drama entitled Enemy Agent. This led to contract-player status with Warner Brothers shortly thereafter. While there, he was teamed with Dennis Morgan in a number of films, supposedly to compete with the popular Bing Crosby - Bob Hope "Road to …" pictures.
Most of his work at Warner Brothers was limited to light comedy work with Morgan, and later Doris Day (who in her autobiography would credit Carson as one of her early Hollywood mentors).
Critics generally agree that Carson's best work was in Mildred Pierce (1945), where he played the perpetually scheming Wally Fay opposite Joan Crawford in the title role. Also in 1945 he played the role of Harold Pierson, the second husband of Louise Randall, played by Rosalind Russell, in Roughly Speaking.
Another role which won accolades for him was as publicist Matt Libby in A Star is Born (1954).
One of his last film roles was as the older brother "Gooper" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).
His TV appearances, extending into the early 1960s, included The Martha Raye Show, The Guy Mitchell Show and The Polly Bergen Show in 1957; Alcoa Theatre and Bonanza (Season 1, Ep.9: "Mr. Henry Comstock") in 1959; Thriller ("The Big Blackout") in 1960; and The Twilight Zone (Season 2, Ep. 14: "The Whole Truth") in 1961.
His far-less-famous brother Robert (Bob) was also a character actor.
In 1983, after his death, Jack Carson was inducted into the Wisconsin Performing Artists Hall of Fame along with his film pal, Dennis Morgan, who was also from Wisconsin. 
In 1962, while rehearsing the Broadway play Critic's Choice, he collapsed and was subsequently diagnosed with stomach cancer. He died in Encino in 1963, at 52 years of age. The early death of the burly Carson, whose screen image was one of energy and vitality, made front page news, along with the death of fellow actor Dick Powell, who died on the same day. Carson was entombed in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in The Great Mausoleum, Columbarium of Memory, 3rd Bay, niche 19676 with his parents, brother, and sisters.
Carson married four times: Elizabeth Lindy (married 1938, divorced 1939), Kay St. Germain (1941-1950), Lola Albright (1952-1958) and Sandra Jolley (1961–1963), former wife of Forrest Tucker and daughter of character actor I. Stanford Jolley. Carson had a romantic relationship between his second and third marriages with Doris Day in 1950–51, but she left him for Marty Melcher, who would become her third husband.
Stage Door (1937) with Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Lucille Ball
You Only Live Once (1937) with Henry Fonda
Two Many Wives (1937) with Anne Shirley
High Flyers (1937) with Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey, and Lupe Vélez
Vivacious Lady (1938) with Ginger Rogers and James Stewart
Bringing Up Baby (1938) (uncredited) with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant
Carefree (1938) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
The Saint in New York (1938) with Louis Hayward as Simon Templar
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) with James Stewart
Destry Rides Again (1939) with Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart
I Take This Woman (1940) with Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr
Enemy Agent (1940) with Richard Cromwell
Lucky Partners (1940) with Ronald Colman, Ginger Rogers, Spring Byington and Harry Davenport
Typhoon (1940) with Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston
Parole Fixer (1940) with William Henry
Queen of the Mob (1940) with Ralph Bellamy
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery
The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland
Love Crazy (1941) with William Powell and Myrna Loy
The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941) with James Cagney and Bette Davis
Navy Blues (1941) with Ann Sheridan
The Male Animal (1942) with Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland
Larceny Inc (1942) with Edward G. Robinson and Jane Wyman
Wings for the Eagle (1942) with Ann Sheridan
Gentleman Jim (1942) with Errol Flynn, Alan Hale, William Frawley and Ward Bond
The Hard Way (1943) with Ida Lupino
Princess O'Rourke (1943) with Olivia de Havilland, Robert Cummings and Charles Coburn
Thank Your Lucky Stars (1942) with Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Ida Lupino and Olivia de Havilland
The Doughgirls (1944) with Ann Sheridan and Alexis Smith
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) with Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane
Hollywood Canteen (1944)
Shine On, Harvest Moon (1944) with Ann Sheridan
Make Your Own Bed (1944) with Jane Wyman and Alan Hale
Roughly Speaking (1945) with Rosalind Russell
Mildred Pierce (1945) with Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth and Eve Arden
One More Tomorrow (1946) with Ann Sheridan
The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946) with Dennis Morgan and Janis Paige
Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946) with Dennis Morgan
Love and Learn (1947) with Martha Vickers
April Showers (1948) with Ann Sothern
Romance on the High Seas (1948) with Janis Paige, Don DeFore, and Doris Day
Two Guys from Texas (1948) with Dennis Morgan and Dorothy Malone
April Showers (1948) with Ann Sothern
John Loves Mary (1949) with Ronald Reagan, Wayne Morris and Edward Arnold
My Dream Is Yours (1949) with Doris Day
It's a Great Feeling (1949) with Doris Day
Bright Leaf (1950) with Gary Cooper, and Lauren Bacall
The Good Humor Man (1950) with George Reeves, and Lola Albright
Mr. Universe (1951) with Vince Edwards
The Groom Wore Spurs (1951) with Ginger Rogers
Dangerous When Wet (1953) with Esther Williams and Fernando Lamas
A Star Is Born (1954) with Judy Garland and James Mason
Red Garters (1954) with Rosemary Clooney
Phffft! (1954) with Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, and Kim Novak
Ain't Misbehavin' (film) (1955) with Rory Calhoun
Magnificent Roughnecks (1956) with Mickey Rooney
Bottom Of The Bottle (1956) with Van Johnson and Joseph Cotton
The Tattered Dress (1957) with Jeff Chandler, Jeanne Crain, Gail Russell
The Tarnished Angels (1958) with Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, and Dorothy Malone
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958) with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and Joan Collins
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) with Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl Ives
The Bramble Bush (1960) with Richard Burton
King Of The Roaring 20s (1961) with David Janssen
Sammy the Way Out Seal (1962) with Robert Culp and Billy Mumy
Year Program Episode/source
1946 Suspense Easy Money
1. Obituary Variety, January 9, 1963.
2. "Hall of Fame a gala premiere." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Let's Go section, Page 2.
3. Day, Doris; Hotchner, A.E. (Oct 1976) . Doris Day: Her Own Story (Bantam mass market paperback) (6th printing ed.). New York: William Morrow. p. 108. ISBN 0-553-02888-X.
4. "Jack Carson Is Suspense Star." Harrisburg Telegraph. November 2, 1946. p. 19.