|The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.|
Real name: Kenneth R. Dollins
1901 - 1972
|Dave Smith resides in Indianapolis and has done extensive research on 'Hoosiers' (folks from Indiana), and specifically on Hoosiers in the film industry. Dave is the author of Hoosiers in Hollywood, and I thank him for providing the following on Kenneth MacDonald.|
Kenneth MacDonald started out in silent films in 1923. When sound came along, he moved effortlessly into the new medium. He also made the transition into television and had a nice career there as well. Some sources list his name as McDonald but neither was his birth name. He was born Kenneth Dollins on September 8, 1901 in Portland, Indiana.
He grew up in Richmond, Indiana, where he earned seven letters at Richmond High School as a member of its football, basketball and track squads. He was the first President of the Richmond Athletic Association. His last appearance in Richmond was in 1970 when he returned for the fiftieth anniversary of his high school graduating class.
He went on stage in the early 1920's but when he decided to try to break into the movies, he found the going rough. He wrote and published a pamphlet which he entitled, The Case for Kenneth MacDonald. This self-promoting booklet was distributed to all the studios and finally caught the attention of studio executives. His first feature was a Western, SLOW AS LIGHTNING in 1923. He worked steadily throughout the thirties in a variety of roles. In addition to playing a mustachioed villain in Westerns and other films, he often appeared in short subjects made by The Three Stooges and Hugh Herbert.
He became a regular fixture at Columbia studios portraying villains in cowboy star Charles Starrett's series of Westerns. He had a suave demeanor and an excellent rich voice. He played con men, crooked lawyers, gang leaders, etc. He semi-retired in 1955. Television was just coming on strong and, thanks to his work with the Three Stooges, he landed a role as a Superior Court Judge in the popular PERRY MASON series. It seems Sam White, whose brother Jules was in charge of many of the Stooges comedies, was a member of the Perry Mason production team. Sam remembered MacDonald and suggested him for the role of the judge. The series ran initially from 1957 to 1966 and MacDonald was part of it for most of that run. This is the role for which he will be most remembered.
During his career he appeared in several major movies including, THE CAINE MUTINY, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE. He made his last film in 1967, the Audie Murphy western 40 GUNS TO ABILENE. Kenneth MacDonald appeared in over 150 films during his long career. At least a third of these were Westerns. He played with such Western stars as Randolph Scott, Rod Cameron, Buster Crabbe, Jock Mahoney and fellow Hoosiers Allan Lane, Chubby Johnson and Forrest Tucker.
Kenneth MacDonald was married to LaMee Nave MacDonald. He officially changed his name to MacDonald in 1930. Suffering from brain and lung cancer, he died on May 5, 1972 at the Motion Picture Country Hospital in Woodland Hills, California and was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills.
Les Adams has MacDonald identified in about 150 sound films --- that number includes 65 westerns and 9 cliffhangers.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Kenneth MacDonald: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0531810/
Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has a webpage on Kenneth MacDonald and his work in serials: http://filesofjerryblake.com/serial-villains/kenneth-macdonald/
A listing of MacDonald's 30+ appearances as a judge is at D. M. Brockman's PERRY MASON website: http://www.perrymasontvseries.com/M_Actors.htm
The Three Stooges Net website includes a listing of the various cast members in the Stooges' shorts, and here's Kenneth MacDonald with the zany trio: http://www.threestooges.net/cast/actor/175/
The Family Search website, California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), 1920 Richmond, Indiana High School yearbook, and the death certificate provide more about Kenneth MacDonald and family.
Couple of tidbits in the information below. It looks like Kenneth's parents divorced and mother Mary was re-married at the time of the 1920 census. In that 1920 census, her son Kenneth R. Dollins is with her in Moline, Illinois. Yet Kenneth R. Dollins is also listed in the 1920 Richmond, Indiana High School yearbook. Perhaps he was living in Richmond, Indiana with a friend or family member and finishing out his high school years. Driving distance between Moline, Illinois and Richmond, Indiana is about 375 miles.
Jim Tipton's Find-A-Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for Kenneth MacDonald and his wife who are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills:
Kenneth MacDonald: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=19770
LaMee Kathryn Nave MacDonald (1912-1988): http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6649617
Find A Grave also has info on Kenneth MacDonald's parents who are interred at Green Park Cemetery, Portland, Jay County, Indiana:
John W. Dollins (1858-1923): http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=62628906
Mary E. 'Mollie' Tate (1859-1948): http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=67418711
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above - MacDonald had found his niche as a slick movie bad guy in the mid 1930s, and above, he's battling with cowboy hero Reb Russell in BORDER VENGEANCE (Willis Kent, 1935).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Hank Bell, with his customary moustache, Charles Starrett, Kenneth MacDonald, Iris Meredith and Ed Cobb in SPOILERS OF THE RANGE (Columbia, 1939). MacDonald did a lot of work at Columbia in oaters and shorts. He even did some serials --- remember MacDonald as Dr. Bremmer, the villain trying to build a secret air base at the Lost City of Zoloz, in THE PHANTOM.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Frank LaRue, Donald Curtis, Mary Daily, Kenneth MacDonald and Tom Moray on the far right. Scene from the Bill Elliott HANDS ACROSS THE ROCKIES (Columbia, 1941). MacDonald is brains heavy "Juneau Jessup" and is ably supported by LaRue (as the mean "Rufe Crawley") and his sons "Dade Crawley" (Curtis) and "Hi Crawley" (Moray).