George O'Hanlon

Active - 1939 - 1990  |   Born - Jan 1, 1913   |   Died - Feb 11, 1989   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction, Children's/Family

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The son of vaudeville and burlesque performers, George O'Hanlon made his own stage bow as a dancer at age 16 -- only to be fired after a few weeks over a salary dispute. O'Hanlon made the rounds in summer stock and burlesque, then registered with Hollywood's Central Casting as a film extra in the early '30s. While hoofing away in the choruses of many a Warner Bros. musical, O'Hanlon took acting lessons at the Bliss-Hayden theater in Beverly Hills. His big break came when he was hired by fledgling director Richard Bare for a U.S.C.-subsidized short subject, So You Want to Give Up Smoking (1942). After the war, O'Hanlon and Bare teamed for a series of shorts for Warners release; informally titled Behind the Eight Ball, these one-reel gems starred O'Hanlon as benighted "everyman" Joe McDoakes. This popular series ran from 1946 through 1955, amassing a total of 56 entries, three of which were nominated for Academy Awards. Outside of his McDoakes assignments, O'Hanlon appeared as Gillis in 45 episodes of the 1950s TV sitcom The Life of Riley, and also wrote and directed several installments of such TV weeklies as The Roaring 20s, 77 Sunset Strip, and Petticoat Junction. He played supporting roles in films like The Hucksters (1946), The Tanks are Coming (1951), and Kronos (1957), and directed the 1959 Tommy Noonan/Pete Marshall vehicle The Rookies. Children of the 1960s will remember George O'Hanlon as the voice of George Jetson on the Hanna-Barbera prime-time cartoon series The Jetsons.

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