Donald O'Connor as host of the television program The Colgate Comedy Hour on NBC in 1952.
Donald O'Connor on Wikipedia
Donald O'Connor on the Internet Movie Database
Donald and Effie O'Connor
Forecourt Ceremony held on Wednesday, February 25, 1953
Born: August 28, 1925, in Chicago. Illinois
Age at the time of the ceremony: 27
Died: September 27, 2003, in Woodland Hills, California, age 78
Donald O'Connor was a very appealing song-and-dance man, who will be forever remembered for his appearance in the classic musical Singin' in the Rain (released in April 1952). Both of Donald's parents had been in vaudeville, so he considered it appropriate to include his mother in his Forecourt ceremony.

Born in Chicago to Irish vaudeville entertainers John and Effie O'Connor, at three years of age Donald and his older sister Arlene were in a car crash which took Arlene's life. A few weeks later, his father John suffered a fatal heart attack while performing in Brockton Massachusetts. Alone with her baby Donald, Effie taught the lad everything she knew about show business. Many people have commented on O'Connor natural gifts — it's not an act — it's real.

The O'Connor's trundled themselves off to Hollywood, where Donald made his film debut in the comedy It Can't Last Forever (released in July 1937). He was given an acting contract at Paramount, where he played Fred MacMurray as a young boy in Men with Wings (released in July 1938), and Bing Crosby's younger brother in Sing You Sinners (released in September 1938). After playing Gary Cooper's character as a young boy in Beau Geste (released in July 1939), Donald returned to the vaudeville stage for a year.

Now 16, O'Connor signed up with Universal, where he appeared in several of the studio's "B" musicals, like What's Cookin' (released in February 1942), Private Buckaroo (released in June 1942), and Give Out, Sisters (released in September 1942). In these pictures, O'Connor formed a trio with actressess Gloria Jean and Peggy Ryan.

The group was doing so well, that Universal decided to up the budget on the latest O'Connor / Jean / Ryan musical Mister Big (released in May 1943). Partnering with Peggy Ryan, O'Connor starred in Top Man (released in September 1943), Chip Off the Old Block (released in February 1944), and appeared together in the Universal revue musical Follow the Boys (released in May 1944).

When O'Connor turned 18, he was drafted into the Army. Universal rushed to complete four more O'Connor / Ryan musicals, which kept O'Connor before the public while he served in the US Special Forces, giving performances throughout the Pacific theatre. Upon returning, Universal-International teamed him up with Deanna Durbin in Something in the Wind (released in July 1947). He cranked out several more musicals in the late 1940s.

Things changed with his appearing in Francis (released in February 1950), where he played straight man to a talking mule. A whopping hit, O'Connor was contractually tied to make a new Francis film per year, his next being Francis Goes to the Races (released in May 1951).

Directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen chose O'Connor to round out their headliners in their classic musical Singin' in the Rain (released in April 1952). His Cosmo Brown character's performance of the "Make 'Em Laugh" number is astonishing in a film full of great musical numbers. On the strength of this film, Donald O'Connor became a freelancer, after making Francis Goes to West Point (released in July 1952), and I Love Melvin (released in March 1953) with Debbie Reynolds. During this timeframe, O'Connor was an occasional host on The Colgate Comedy Hour, which brought him an Emmy. O'Connor's all-time favorite dancing of his was in the film Call Me Madam (which played the Chinese in April 1953) with Ethel Merman.

After Francis Covers the Big Town (released in June 1953), O'Connor appeared in Walking My Baby Back Home (released in December 1953) with Janet Leigh, and Francis Joins the WACS (released in July 1954). He made the all-star cast of There's No Business Like Show Business (which played the Chinese in December 1954). He got his own sitcom on NBC called The Donald O'Connor Show in the 1954-55 season. His last Francis film was Francis in the Navy (released in August 1955).

He co-starred with Bing Crosby in Anything Goes (released in April 1956), and took the title role in The Buster Keaton Story (released in May 1957). After starring with Glenn Ford in Cry for Happy (released in January 1961), and The Wonders of Aladdin (released in December 1961), O'Connor took some time away from Hollywood, returning to make That Funny Feeling (released in August 1965). In 1968, he hosted his own talk show, The Donald O'Connor Show in syndication, but the show was not a success. A heart attack and other health problems followed in 1971.

Dancing in the "Dancin' on the Silver Screen" number on the Oscars in 1980, led to his appearing in the film Ragtime (released in December 1981). He went to Broadway to star in Bring Back Birdie during the 1981 season, and played Cap'n Andy in a Broadway revival of Show Boat in the 1983 season. He appeared in Toys (released in December 1992) with Robin Williams. His last film was Out to Sea (released in July 1997), with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. He died of heart failure in 2003.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Donald O'Connor Forecourt block. Executed by Jean Klossner, Wednesday, February 25, 1953. 44 x 38 inches overall.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Donald O'Connor Forecort ceremony, Wednesday, February 25, 1953. Grauman's Chinese Theatre manager Ralph Hathaway and cement artist Jean Klossner look on as Effie O'Connor is helped into her footprint by her son, Donald O'Connor.
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