James Flavin

Active - 1932 - 2020  |   Born - May 14, 1906   |   Died - Apr 23, 1976   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actor James Flavin was groomed as a leading man when he first arrived in Hollywood in 1932, but he balked at the glamour treatment and was demonstrably resistant to being buried under tons of makeup. Though Flavin would occasionally enjoy a leading role--notably in the 1932 serial The Airmail Mystery, co-starring Flavin's wife Lucille Browne--the actor would devote most of his film career to bit parts. If a film featured a cop, process server, Marine sergeant, circus roustabout, deckhand or political stooge, chances are Jimmy Flavin was playing the role. His distinctive sarcastic line delivery and chiselled Irish features made him instantly recognizable, even if he missed being listed in the cast credits. Larger roles came Flavin's way in King Kong (1933) as Second Mate Briggs; Nightmare Alley (1947), as the circus owner who hires Tyrone Power; and Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949), as a long-suffering homicide detective. Since he worked with practically everyone, James Flavin was invaluable in later years as a source of on-set anecdotes for film historians; and because he evidently never stopped working, Flavin and his wife Lucille were able to spend their retirement years in comfort in their lavish, sprawling Hollywood homestead.

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