James Kirkwood

Active - 1909 - 1956  |   Born - Feb 22, 1875   |   Died - Aug 24, 1963   |   Genres - Drama, Western, Romance, Action

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

Durable American actor James Kirkwood opened up his film career at the Biograph studios in 1909 and closed it out with 1962's The Ugly American. The curly-haired, dependable-looking Kirkwood (described in an early Photoplay article as "one of those regular film 'troupers' who never fall down") occasionally interrupted his acting career for a spot of directing; in 1912 alone, he wielded the megaphone for nine pictures featuring Mary Pickford. Lacking the drive and organizational skills to excel as a director, Kirkwood willingly switched back to acting full-time by 1918. His silent film acting credits include D.W. Griffith's Home, Sweet Home (1914) and That Royale Girl (1926), costarring with W.C. Fields in the latter picture. Among Kirkwood's talking films were Over the Hill (1931), Charlie Chan's Chance (1933) and Joan of Arc (1949). His talkie roles frequently found Kirkwood on the wrong side of the law, as in the Tom Mix western My Pal the King (1932), wherein Kirkwood trapped boy-king Mickey Rooney in a rapidly flooding cellar. James Kirkwood's third wife was actress Lila Lee; their son was James Kirkwood Jr., co-author of the Broadway long-runner A Chorus Line.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography