|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 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. It was an 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. He died in the Motion Picture County Hospital in Woodland Hills, California on May 8, 1972.
Les Adams has MacDonald identified in about 150 sound films --- that number includes 65 westerns and 9 cliffhangers.
You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral, and check the California Death Records database. There you will find a record for Kenneth R. MacDonald, born 9/8/1901 in Indiana, and he passed away on 5/5/1972. There is a corresponding record in the Social Security Death Index.
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/
Jim Tipton's Find-A-Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for MacDonald at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=19770
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 32 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 MacDonald with the zany trio: http://www.threestooges.net/cast/actor/175/
(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 (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).