Tom Dugan

Active - 1927 - 1951  |   Born - Jan 1, 1889   |   Died - Mar 6, 1955   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Irish-born actor Tom Dugan, a former vaudevillian, was in films at least from the mid '20s, appearing in support of such two-reel comedians as Charley Chase. He was among the lucky actors chosen for the first all-talking feature film, Lights of New York (1928), though Dugan and Eugene Pallette were the only cast members able to finesse this early break into lengthy talkie careers. With his tough Hibernian deadpan and raspy voice, Dugan was most effectively cast in roughneck comedy roles, though many of these had a slightly sinister tinge, suggesting that he was moonlighting as a racketeer. In the mid '30s, Dugan briefly signed on at Hal Roach studios as an actor and gag writer, billed in the latter capacity under his full name of Thomas J. Dugan. For most of his film career Dugan free-lanced, playing dozens of bits as cops, gangsters, baseball coaches, cab drivers and sarcastic prison inmates. His best-ever film role was Bronsky, a minor member of a prestigious Polish acting troupe in Ernst Lubitsch's classic To Be or Not to Be. Disguised as Adolph Hitler, Dugan provides the film's opening gag, and later manages to hoodwink the whole Gestapo (and a couple of non-plussed Scots farmers) with his tight-lipped imitation of Der Fuhrer.

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