September 29, 2003 by

Donald O’Connor

1 comment

Categories: Actors, Hollywood, Military

doconnor.jpgDonald David Dixon Ronald O’Connor, an acrobatic dancer and Emmy award-winning actor who was best known for his role in “Singin’ in the Rain,” died on Sept. 27 from heart failure. He was 78.
Born in Chicago to a vaudeville family, O’Connor first appeared in movies as a child, starring as Huckleberry Finn in “Tom Sawyer — Detective.” At 18, he was drafted into the Army, and spent World War II performing in 3,000 shows for the troops.
Once the war ended, O’Connor became one of the top Hollywood stars of the 1940s and 1950s. He made a name for himself in musical comedies like “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Anything Goes” and “Walking My Baby Back Home.” His dance routine in the 1952 hit, “Singin’ in the Rain,” had him tumbling on the floor, running up walls and doing back flips while singing the song, “Make ’em Laugh.” O’Connor won a Best Actor Golden Globe for his performance.
In 1949, he starred in “Francis, The Talking Mule,” a film about an Army private who speaks, Dr. Doolittle-fashion, with a mule. It was such a hit that five sequels followed. As one of the rotating hosts of “The Colgate Comedy Hour,” O’Connor won an Emmy in 1952 for Outstanding Personality. That same year, he hosted the Academy Awards.
O’Connor continued acting well into his 70s, making memorable appearances in the films, “Toys” and “Out to Sea.” His family, who was by his side when he died, said his last words were: “I’d like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get.”

One Response to Donald O’Connor

  1. Mark

    “Now you could study Shakespeare and be quite elite
    Or you could charm the critics and have nothing to eat
    Just slip on a banana peel, the world’s at your feet
    Make ’em laugh
    Make ’em laugh
    Make ’em laugh”
    Donald O’Connor is the reason I’m a film buff. I was 12 years old and didn’t give a care about movies made before 1980. Then, my parents sat me down, showed me “Singin’ In The Rain”, and when I saw Donald O’Connor perform “Make ‘Em Laugh”, it was as great an epiphany as a pre-teen can have. I owe it all to Donald O’Connor. Of all the people who died in 2003, this was the only one that had me pound the desk in anger when I heard the news. You were the best, Donald.

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