Andy Devine

Active - 1928 - 1999  |   Born - Oct 7, 1905   |   Died - Feb 18, 1977   |   Genres - Comedy, Western, Drama, Action, Adventure

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Andy Devine was born in Kingman, Arizona, where his father ran a hotel. During his youth, Devine was a self-confessed hellraiser, and stories of his rowdy antics are still part of Kingman folklore (though they've undoubtedly improved in the telling). His trademarked ratchety voice was the result of a childhood accident, when he fell while carrying a stick in his mouth, resulting in permanent vocal-chord injuries. A star football player at Santa Clara University, Andy decided to break into movies in 1926; he was almost immediately cast in Universal's two-reel series The Collegians. When talkies came, Devine was convinced that his voice was unsuitable for the microphone. He reportedly became so despondent at one point that he attempted to commit suicide by asphyxiation, only to discover that his landlady had turned off the gas! Devine needn't have worried; his voice became his greatest asset, and from 1930 until his retirement, he was very much in demand for bucolic comedy roles. In 1937 he became a regular on Jack Benny's radio program, his howl of "Hiya, Buck!" becoming a national catchphrase. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was a popular comedy sidekick in the western films of Roy Rogers. Later film assignments included his atypical performance as a corrupt Kansas City cop in Jack Webb's Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). Most baby boomers retain fond memories of Devine's TV appearances as Jingles Jones on the long-running western series Wild Bill Hickock, and as host of the Saturday morning kid's program Andy's Gang. In his later years, Devine cut down his performing activities, preferring to stay on his Van Nuys (California) ranch with his wife and children. Made a very wealthy man thanks to real estate investments, Andy Devine abandoned moviemaking in 1970, resurfacing only to provide voices for a brace of Disney cartoon features; he remained active in civic and charitable affairs, at one juncture serving as honorary mayor of Van Nuys.

Movie Highlights

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