Donald O'Connor Dies

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Paul Drake, Sep 27, 2003.

  1. Paul Drake

    Paul Drake Stunt Coordinator

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  2. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    [​IMG]
    Entertainer Donald O'Connor Dies at 78

    Associated Press, September 27, 2003

    LOS ANGELES -- Entertainer Donald O'Connor, who combined comedy and
    acrobatics in the show-stopping "Make 'Em Laugh" number in the
    classic movie "Singin' in the Rain," died Saturday, his daughter
    said. He was 78.

    O'Connor, who had been in declining health in recent years, died of
    heart failure, his daughter, Alicia O'Connor, told The Associated
    Press.

    It was in the '50s that O'Connor made the films for which he was best
    known -- a series of highly successful "Francis the Talking Mule"
    comedies and movie musicals that put his song and dance talents to
    good use.

    Songs in movie musicals are often touching or exciting, but O'Connor
    performed a rare feat with a number that were laugh-out-loud funny.

    The best, 1952's "Singin' in the Rain," also starred Gene Kelly and
    Debbie Reynolds and took a satirical look at Hollywood during the
    transition from silent to sound pictures.

    As he sings "Make 'Em Laugh," O'Connor dances with a prop dummy and
    does all manner of amusing acrobatics.

    "Someone handed me a dummy that was on the stage," he recalled in a
    1995 Associated Press interview. "That was the only prop I used. I
    did a pratfall and we wrote that down. Every time I did something
    that got a laugh, we wrote it down to keep in the number."

    The American Film Institute's list of the top 100 American movies
    ever made ranked "Singin' in the Rain" at No. 10.

    Among O'Connor's other '50s musicals were "Call Me Madam," "Anything
    Goes" and "There's No Business Like Show Business."

    He said it was a fluke that he landed in so many musicals, nothing he
    started out as a "straight" actor. He also said his song-and-dance
    image came with a downside.

    "Back then, when you were typecast that way, it was very difficult to
    get dramatic parts," he recalled. "Look at Fred Astaire, who was a
    darn good actor."
     
  3. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

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    Just had a fun read at the IMDB..
    In 1939 Donald played the 12 year old "Beau" (Gary Cooper) in Beau Geste and in 1981 he was Evelyn (Elizabeth McGovern) Nesbit's dance instructor in Ragtime.
    A life well lived.

    Jim
     
  4. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    I was just watching some footage of him on TCM the other day. A fine entertainer.

    This sure has been a tough year for deaths of actors.

    Richard Crenna - January 17
    Robert Stack - May 14
    Martha Scott - May 28
    Gregory Peck - June 12
    Hume Cronyn - June 15
    Buddy Hackett - June 29
    Katharine Hepburn - June 29
    Buddy Ebsen - July 6
    Bob Hope - July 27
    Gregory Hines - August 9
    Charles Bronson - August 30
    Larry Hovis - September 9
    John Ritter - September 11
    Gordon Jump - September 22
    Donald O'Connor - September 27

    plus others.

    Not to mention other celebrities, such as musicians Maurice Gibb, Johnny Paycheck, Barry White, Warren Zevon, Robert Palmer, Johnny Cash.
     
  5. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Some of Donald O'Connor's Films


    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Published: September 27, 2003


    ``Melody for Two,'' 1937

    ``Sing You Sinners,'' 1938

    ``Tom Sawyer, Detective,'' 1938

    ``Beau Geste,'' 1939

    ``Private Buckaroo,'' 1942

    ``Mr. Big,'' 1943

    ``Bowery to Broadway,'' 1944

    ``Patrick the Great,'' 1945

    ``Something in the Wind,'' 1947

    ``Francis,'' 1949

    ``Curtain Call at Cactus Creek,'' 1950

    ``Francis Goes to the Races,'' 1951

    ``Singin' in the Rain,'' 1952

    ``Francis Goes to West Point,'' 1952

    ``Call Me Madam,'' 1953

    ``Francis Covers the Big Town,'' 1953

    ``Francis Joins the WACs,'' 1954

    ``There's No Business Like Show Business,'' 1954

    ``Francis in the Navy,'' 1955

    ``Anything Goes,'' 1956

    ``The Buster Keaton Story,'' 1957

    ``Cry for Happy,'' 1961

    ``That Funny Feeling,'' 1965

    ``That's Entertainment!'' 1974

    ``That's Entertainment, Part II,'' 1976

    ``The Big Fix,'' 1979

    ``Ragtime,'' 1981

    ``Pandemonium,'' 1982

    ``Toys,'' 1993

    ``Out to Sea,'' 1997
     
  6. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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  7. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Man, that sucks. O'Connor was a guy that was just so full of life. I always found his characters extremely likable.

    This year seems abnormally bad for actor/musician deaths.
     
  8. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    My father, a professional dancer himself in his younger days, often admired performers like Donald O'Connor. Of course, Mr. O'Connor's "Make Them Laugh" dance routine in "Dancing In The Rain" will be remembered as a highlight in movie musical history. However, several years back, I saw Mr. O'Connor played Bonnie Hunt's father sequence in a flashback on her comedy show on CBS (produced by David Letterman)....man, what a moving performance. It was not a long sequence, but his performance was so moving that it stayed in my mind til this day. They sure don't make them like they used to.

    RIP Mr. O'Connor. Mr Hines makes a good dance partner.
     
  9. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    More sad news. He was so good in Singin' in the Rain, my favorite musical.

    RIP Donald [​IMG]
     
  10. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Another great one leaves us. This is very disappointing. [​IMG]
     
  11. Anthony Connor

    Anthony Connor Stunt Coordinator

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    Rest in peace Donald

    Sincerely
     
  12. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    I remember going to see Out to Sea when it came out - for the most part, the film was a complete waste of time (think: Grumpy Old Men on the Love Boat). One of the really bright spots of the film was Donald O'Connor's solo dance scene that just put everything and everyone else in the film to shame. Even then he still had the magic.
     

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