Melvyn Douglas


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Jessie Bonstelle (1872—1932)

Sean O'Casey (1880—1964) playwright and writer

Paul Muni (1896—1967)

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(1901–81), actor and director. The suave leading man, who developed into a fine character actor, was born in Macon, Georgia, and made his stage debut in Chicago. He next spent several seasons with Jessie Bonstelle before briefly operating his own company in Madison, Wisconsin. Douglas first appeared in New York as the gambler Ace Wilfong in A Free Soul (1928). His acting in plays landed him a Hollywood contract, but he returned to Broadway in 1934 to play the philandering husband Sheridan Warren in No More Ladies and to win acclaim for his direction of O'Casey's Within the Gates. His next appearances were in failures, and Douglas returned to Hollywood until he re-emerged after World War II as co-producer of the ex-soldier revue Call Me Mister (1946). His post-war performances of note include newspaperman Tommy Thurston in Two Blind Mice (1949), the callous nightclub owner Wally Williams in The Bird Cage (1950), the middle-aged bachelor-father Steve Whitney in Glad Tidings (1951), and the staid banker-father Howard Carol in the frivolous farce, Time Out for Ginger (1952). Douglas played this part for three seasons, before replacing Paul Muni in 1956 as the Clarence Darrow-like Henry Drummond in a retelling of the Scopes evolution trial, Inherit the Wind. Following several failures, he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of William Russell, the idealistic presidential candidate, in The Best Man (1960). His last Broadway appearance was as a retired chicken farmer encroached on by suburbanites, the title role in Spofford (1967).

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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