Born Edward Flanagan, O'Keefe was a lithe, brash, charming, tall, rugged lead actor. The son of vaudevillians, he began appearing onstage in his parents' act while still a toddler. By age 16 he was writing scripts for "Our Gang" comedy shorts. He attended some college and did more work on vaudeville before entering films in the early '30s, appearing in bit roles in more than 50 films under the name Bud Flanagan. His work in a small role in the film Saratoga (1937) impressed Clark Gable, who recommended that he be cast in leads. MGM agreed, so he changed his name to Dennis O'Keefe and went on to play leads in numerous films, beginning with Bad Man of Brimstone (1938). Besides many light action-oriented films, he also appeared in numerous '40s comedies, and later specialized in tough-guy parts. Later in his career he directed a film or two and also wrote mystery stories. In the late '50s O'Keefe starred in the short-lived TV series "The Dennis O'Keefe Show." He was in only two films in the '60s. He died at 60 of lung cancer. His widow is actress Steffi Duna.