Arthur O'Connell

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Arthur O'Connell
Arthur O'Connell in Bus Stop trailer cropped.jpg
From Bus Stop (1956)
Born(1908-03-29)March 29, 1908
DiedMay 18, 1981(1981-05-18) (aged 73)
Resting placeCalvary Cemetery in Queens, New York
OccupationStage, film, and television actor
Years active1938–1981
Ann Hall Dunlop
(m. 1962; div. 1972)

Arthur Joseph O'Connell (March 29, 1908 – May 18, 1981) was an American stage and film actor. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for both Picnic (1955) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959).[1] He made his final film appearance in The Hiding Place (1975), portraying a Dutch watch-maker who hides Jews during World War II.


Bus Stop (1956)

O'Connell was born on March 29, 1908, in Manhattan, New York. His father died when O'Connell was two; he lost his mother when he was 12. O'Connell was raised by his aunt and won a scholarship to St John's College. He worked as a salesman of advertising space, then went into acting in 1929. He worked in summer stock but in the mid 1930s fell seriously ill.[2]

He made his legitimate stage debut in the middle 1930s, at which time he fell within the orbit of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. Welles cast O'Connell in the tiny role of a reporter in the closing scenes of Citizen Kane (1941), a film often referred to as O'Connell's film debut, though in fact he already had appeared in Freshman Year (1938) and had costarred in two Leon Errol short subjects as Errol's conniving brother-in-law.

He entered the army in 1945 and served in the signal corps. After he left the army he was spotted in little theatre by Charles Laughton and joined a travelling Shakesperean company.

His career breakthrough came on Broadway, where he appeared as the middle-aged swain of a spinsterish schoolteacher in Picnic - a role he played in the 1956 film version, earning an Oscar nomination in the process.[2]

Later, the jaded looking O'Connell frequently was cast as 40ish losers and alcoholics; in the latter capacity he appeared as James Stewart's boozy attorney mentor in Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and the result was a second Oscar nomination.

He also frequently appeared as a paterfamilias in movies starring teen idols such as Elvis Presley, Pat Boone and Fabian.

In 1959, O'Connell also played the part of Chief Petty Officer Sam Tostin, engine room chief of the fictional World War II submarine USS Sea Tiger, opposite Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in Operation Petticoat. In 1961, O'Connell played the role of Grandpa Clarence Beebe in the children's film Misty, the screen adaptation of Marguerite Henry's story of Misty of Chincoteague.[3] In 1962, he portrayed the father of Elvis Presley's character in the motion picture Follow That Dream, and in 1964 in the Presley-picture Kissin' Cousins. In the same year, O'Connell portrayed the idealist-turned-antagonist Clint Stark in The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which has become a cult classic, and in which O'Connell's is the only character other than star Tony Randall to appear as one of the "7 faces." O'Connell continued appearing in choice character parts on both television and films during the 1960s, but avoided a regular television series, holding out until he could be assured top billing.

On Christmas Day, 1962, O'Connell was cast as Clayton Dodd in the episode "Green, Green Hills" of the western series Empire, starring Richard Egan as the rancher Jim Redigo. This episode features Dayton Lummis as Jason Simms and Joanna Moore as Althea Dodd. In 1966, he guest-starred as a scientist who regretfully realized that he has created an all-powerful android in an episode of the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, titled "The Mechanical Man." In the February 1967 episode "Never Look Back" of the TV series Lassie, he played Luther Jennings, an elderly ranger who monitors the survey tower at Strawberry Peak and who takes it hard when he finds he'll lose his job when the tower is slated for destruction.

Ill health forced O'Connell to reduce his acting appearances in the middle 1970s, but the actor stayed busy as a commercial spokesman, a friendly pharmacist who was a spokesperson for Crest.[1]

At the time of his death from Alzheimer's disease in California in May 1981, O'Connell was appearing by his own choice solely in these commercials. O'Connell is interred at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York.


Year Title Role Notes
1938 Freshman Year Student Uncredited
1939 Murder in Soho Lefty
1940 And One Was Beautiful Moroni's Parking Attendant Uncredited
Two Girls on Broadway Reporter at Wedding Uncredited
I Take This Oath Court Clerk Uncredited
The Golden Fleecing Cameraman Uncredited
Dr. Kildare Goes Home New Interne Uncredited
The Leather Pushers Reporter Uncredited
Hullabaloo Fourth Page Uncredited
1941 Lucky Devils Pilot Uncredited
Citizen Kane Reporter Uncredited
1942 Man from Headquarters Goldie Shores
Law of the Jungle Simmons
Yokel Boy Second Assistant Director Uncredited
Canal Zone New Recruit Uncredited
Shepherd of the Ozarks Bruce Uncredited
Blondie's Blessed Event Interne Uncredited
Fingers at the Window Photographer Uncredited
Hello, Annapolis Pharmacist Mate Uncredited
1948 Open Secret Carter
The Naked City Sgt. Shaeffer Uncredited
State of the Union First Reporter Uncredited
Homecoming Ambulance Attendant Uncredited
One Touch of Venus Reporter Uncredited
The Countess of Monte Cristo Assistant Director Jensen
Force of Evil Link Hall Uncredited
1950 Love That Brute Newspaperman at Funeral Uncredited
1951 The Whistle at Eaton Falls Jim Brewster
1955 Picnic Howard Bevans
1956 The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Gordon Walker
The Proud Ones Jim Dexter
The Solid Gold Cadillac Mark Jenkins
Bus Stop Virgil Blessing
The Monte Carlo Story M. Homer Hinkley
1957 Operation Mad Ball Col. Rousch
The Violators Solomon Baumgarden
April Love Uncle Jed Bruce
1958 Voice in the Mirror William R. 'Bill' Tobin
Man of the West Sam Beasley
1959 Gidget Russell Lawrence
Anatomy of a Murder Parnell Emmett McCarthy
Hound-Dog Man Aaron McKinney
Operation Petticoat Chief Machinist's Mate Sam Tostin
1960 Cimarron Tom Wyatt
1961 The Great Impostor Warden J.B. Chandler
Misty Clarence Beebe
A Thunder of Drums Sgt. Karl Rodermill
Pocketful of Miracles Count Alfonso Romero
1962 Follow That Dream Pop Kwimper
1964 Kissin' Cousins Pappy Tatum
7 Faces of Dr. Lao Clint Stark
Your Cheatin' Heart Fred Rose
1965 Nightmare in the Sun Sam Wilson
The Monkey's Uncle Darius Green III
The Great Race Henry Goodbody
The Third Day Dr. Wheeler
1966 Ride Beyond Vengeance The Narrator
The Silencers Joe Wigman
Fantastic Voyage Colonel Donald Reid
Birds Do It Prof. Wald
1967 A Covenant with Death Judge Hockstadter
The Reluctant Astronaut Arbuckle Fleming
1967-1968 The Second Hundred Years Edwin Carpenter TV Series
1968 The Power Professor Henry Hallson
If He Hollers, Let Him Go! Prosecutor
1970 Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came Mr. Kruft
There Was a Crooked Man... Mr. Lomax
Do Not Throw Cushions Into the Ring Business Agent
1971 The Last Valley Hoffman
1972 Ben Billy Hatfield
They Only Kill Their Masters Ernie
The Poseidon Adventure Chaplain John
1973 Wicked, Wicked Mr. Fenley
1974 Huckleberry Finn Col. Grangerford
1975 Emergency! Mr. Metfort S5Ep9
1975 The Hiding Place Caspar ten Boom


Arthur O'Connell was born to Julia (née Byrne) & Michael O'Connell in New York City, New York. He was the youngest of four children. His siblings were William, Kathleen, and Juliette. In 1962, O'Connell married Ann Hall Dunlop (née Ann Byrd Hall; 1917–2000) of Washington, D.C., widow of William Laird Dunlop III (1909–1960). Arthur O'Connell and Ann Hall Dunlop divorced in December 1972 in Los Angeles.


  1. ^ a b "Arthur O'Connell, 73, Nominated For Oscars For Supporting Roles". The New York Times. May 19, 1981. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Hopper, Hedda (September 17, 1963). "O'Connell Story: Break in Films After 50". Chicago Tribune. p. A1. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  3. ^ "History of Misty of Chincoteague". Misty's Heaven. Retrieved September 17, 2017.

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