James Gleason


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(1886–1959), actor and playwright. Born in New York into an old family of troupers, he was carried on stage at the age of two, then performed around the country with numerous touring and stock companies. Gleason returned to New York in 1914 to appear in Pretty Mrs. Smith, then soon graduated to such important roles as the pretend millionaire Nathaniel Alden in Like a King (1921) and the disillusioned playwright James Leland in The Deep Tangled Wildwood (1923) before scoring a major success as the tough-talking fight manager “Hap” Hurley in Is Zat So? (1925), which he wrote with Richard Taber. Later that same season he collaborated with George Abbott to write another hit, The Fall Guy (1925). With his wife, Lucille Webster, he wrote the successful comedy The Shannons of Broadway (1927), and he also produced several plays. With the coming of sound films, Gleason moved to Hollywood, where he was long typecast in tough guy roles.

From The Oxford Companion to American Theatre in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.

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