Jerome Cowan

Active - 1936 - 1969  |   Born - Oct 6, 1897   |   Died - Jan 24, 1972   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Crime, Mystery, Musical

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Biography by Hal Erickson

From vaudeville and stock companies, actor Jerome Cowan graduated to Broadway in the now-forgotten farce We've Gotta Have Money. While starring in the 1935 Broadway hit Boy Meets Girl, Cowan was spotted by movie producer Sam Goldwyn, who cast Cowan as a sensitive Irish rebel in 1936's Beloved Enemy. Most of Cowan's subsequent films found him playing glib lawyers, shifty business executives and jilted suitors. A longtime resident at Warner Bros., the pencil-mustached Cowan appeared in several substantial character parts from 1940 through 1949, notably the doomed private eye Miles Archer in The Maltese Falcon. Warners gave Cowan the opportunity to be a romantic leading man in two "B" films, Crime By Night (42) and Find the Blackmailer (43). As the years rolled on, Cowan's air of slightly unscrupulous urbanity gave way to respectability, and in this vein he was ideally suited for the role of Dagwood Bumstead's new boss Mr. Radcliffe in several installments of Columbia's Blondie series; he also scored in such flustered roles as the hapless district attorney in Miracle on 34th Street. Cowan briefly left Hollywood in 1950 to pursue more worthwhile roles on stage and TV; he starred in the Broadway play My Three Angels and was top-billed on the 1951 TV series Not for Publication. In his fifties and sixties, Cowan continued essaying roles calling for easily deflated dignity (e.g. The Three Stooges' Have Rocket Will Travel [59] and Jerry Lewis' Visit to a Small Planet [60]) and made regular supporting appearances on several TV series, among them Valiant Lady, The Tab Hunter Show, Many Happy Returns and Tycoon.

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