An Ohio farm boy, Dean Jagger dropped out of school several times before attending Wabash College. He was a schoolteacher for several years before opting to study acting at Chicago's Lyceum Art Conservatory. By the time he made his first film in 1929, Jagger had worked in stock, vaudeville and radio. At first, Hollywood attempted to turn Jagger into a standard leading man, fitting the prematurely balding actor with a lavish wig and changing his name to Jeffrey Dean. It wasn't long before the studios realized that Jagger's true calling was as a character actor. One of his few starring roles after 1940 was as the title character in Brigham Young, Frontiersman--though top billing went to Tyrone Power, cast as a fictional Mormon follower. Jagger won an Academy Award for his sensitive performance in Twelve O'Clock High (1949) as one of General Gregory Peck's officers (and the film's narrator). Physically and vocally, Jagger would have been ideal for the role of Dwight D. Eisenhower, but he spent his career studiously avoiding that assignment. Having commenced his professional life as a teacher, Dean Jagger came full circle in 1964 when cast as Principal Albert Vane on the TV series Mr. Novak.
by Hal Erickson biography