Saturday, July 19, 2014

"McHale's Navy" Actor Joe Flynn 1974 Holy Cross Cemetery

Joe Flynn (November 8, 1924 – July 19, 1974) was an American character actor best known for his participation in the 1960s TV sitcom, McHale's Navy.[1] He was also a frequent guest star on 1960s shows such as Batman and appeared in several Walt Disney film comedies. Later in his career, Flynn worked as a voice actor for Disney animated features.[1]

Early years

He was born to a physician in Youngstown, Ohio. Flynn graduated from Youngstown's Rayen School, attended the University of Notre Dame for one year, and spent three years in the Army Medical Corps before moving west, in 1946, to pursue acting and complete his education. He majored in political science at the University of Southern California.[2]

Early career

Flynn's interest in theater was evident well before his departure from northeastern Ohio. He established himself early on as a radio deejay and ventriloquist. Flynn also gained local celebrity as a director by guiding the Canfield (Ohio) Players in such productions as Harvey, Antigone, and Pursuit of Happiness. He broke into television in pre-network days and, in 1948, starred in his own situation comedy, Yer Old Buddy.[2]

After appearing in a number of stage plays, Flynn returned to Youngstown, where in 1950, he conducted an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in the Ohio Senate as a Republican.[2]

Following his electoral defeat, he pursued his acting career and appeared in nearly 30 films, including many Disney films.[1] Flynn would later recall watching an audience's reaction to his performance in the 1956 film Indestructible Man. Although he played a serious part in the horror film, people laughed, which convinced him that comedy was his forte.

McHale's Navy

Over the years, he achieved recognition in the television field, earning credits as a regular on The Life of Riley and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. In 1961, he was one of the regulars on the first season of The Joey Bishop Show, but left early on, reportedly because he was stealing too many scenes from Bishop.[1] That same year, he guest starred on the Peggy Cass and Jack Weston series The Hathaways, an unusual sitcom about a suburban Los Angeles couple that adopts three chimpanzees. He appeared, too, in Edmond O'Brien's syndicated 1960 crime drama, Johnny Midnight.

From 1962-1966, Flynn played the irascible Captain Wallace "Wally" Burton Binghamton (also known as "Old Leadbottom") on McHale's Navy, in which he became well known for his exasperated catch phrases "What is it, What, WHAT, WHAT!?" and "I could just scream!" He also starred in two theatrical films spun off from the series.[2] In the 1963 comedy Son of Flubber, Flynn had a cameo as a TV announcer; ironically Flynn would later star in the sequels of the Flubber series as Medfield College's "Dean Higgins" in a trio of Disney Studio films, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him, Now You Don't and The Strongest Man in the World, his final live-action film.

Flynn also starred in The Love Bug, The Barefoot Executive, and with Don Knotts in How to Frame a Figg, and in 1973 The Girl Most Likely to... a made for TV movie.

Later career and death

In the early 1970s, Flynn spearheaded a movement on behalf of the Screen Actors Guild for more equitable distribution of TV residual payments.[1]

Flynn appeared on Match Game '74, in what had to be one of his final television appearances. Flynn appeared on a week's worth of shows in 1974.

Shortly after completing voiceover work for The Rescuers (released in 1977), Flynn was discovered by family members in the swimming pool of his Beverly Hills home, the victim of an apparent drowning accident.[2] Although some celebrity friends expressed concern about the circumstances surrounding Flynn's death, authorities found no evidence of foul play. Some believe Flynn suffered a heart attack while swimming.[1]

He is interred in Culver City's Holy Cross Cemetery. [3]

Roots in northern Ohio

Throughout his life, Joe Flynn retained a strong connection to his hometown; and from 1969 to the year of his death, he was involved in northeastern Ohio's Kenley Players. He would often return to Youngstown to visit family residing on Elm Street, on the city's north side. In recognition of his contributions to the broadcasting field, Flynn became the ninth recipient of the Ohio Association of Broadcasters Award.[2]


1.^ "Joe Flynn Obituary". Retrieved 2007-04-02.
2.^ "Actor Flynn Drowns in Pool; Youngstown Native Was TV Comedian". The Youngstown Vindicator: p. 1. July 20, 1974.

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