Arthur O'Connell

Arthur Joseph O'Connell (March 29, 1908 – May 18, 1981) was an American stage and film actor. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for both Picnic (1955) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959).[1] He made his final film appearance in The Hiding Place (1975), portraying a watch-maker who hides Jews during World War II. O'Connell bore a physical resemblance to actor Jack Albertson. The two were cast together in "The Poseidon Adventure (1972 film)."

Arthur O'Connell
From Bus Stop (1956)
Born(1908-03-29)March 29, 1908
DiedMay 18, 1981(1981-05-18) (aged 73)
Resting placeCalvary Cemetery in Queens, New York
OccupationStage, film, and television actor
Years active1938–1981
Spouse(s)Ann Hall Dunlop (m. 1962, div. 1972)


O'Connell was born on March 29, 1908 in Manhattan, New York. He made his legitimate stage debut in the middle 1930s, at which time he fell within the orbit of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. Welles cast O'Connell in the tiny role of a reporter in the closing scenes of Citizen Kane (1941), a film often referred to as O'Connell's film debut, though in fact he already had appeared in Freshman Year (1938) and had costarred in two Leon Errol short subjects as Errol's conniving brother-in-law.

After numerous small movie parts, O'Connell returned to Broadway, where he appeared as the middle-aged swain of a spinsterish schoolteacher in Picnic - a role he played in the 1956 film version, earning an Oscar nomination in the process. Later, the jaded looking O'Connell frequently was cast as 40ish losers and alcoholics; in the latter capacity he appeared as James Stewart's boozy attorney mentor in Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and the result was a second Oscar nomination.

In 1959, O'Connell also played the part of Chief Petty Officer Sam Tostin, engine room chief of the fictional World War II submarine USS Sea Tiger, opposite Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in Operation Petticoat. In 1961, O'Connell played the role of Grandpa Clarence Beebe in the children's film Misty, the screen adaptation of Marguerite Henry's story of Misty of Chincoteague.[2] In 1962, he portrayed the father of Elvis Presley's character in the motion picture Follow That Dream, and in 1964 in the Presley-picture Kissin' Cousins. In the same year, O'Connell portrayed the idealist-turned-antagonist Clint Stark in The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which has become a cult classic, and in which O'Connell's is the only character other than star Tony Randall to appear as one of the "7 faces." O'Connell continued appearing in choice character parts on both television and films during the 1960s, but avoided a regular television series, holding out until he could be assured top billing.

On Christmas Day, 1962, O'Connell was cast as Clayton Dodd in the episode "Green, Green Hills" of the western series Empire, starring Richard Egan as the rancher Jim Redigo. This episode features Dayton Lummis as Jason Simms and Joanna Moore as Althea Dodd. In 1966, he guest-starred as a scientist who regretfully realized that he has created an all-powerful android in an episode of the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, titled "The Mechanical Man." In the February 1967 episode "Never Look Back" of the TV series Lassie, he played Luther Jennings, an elderly ranger who monitors the survey tower at Strawberry Peak and who takes it hard when he finds he'll lose his job when the tower is slated for destruction.

Ill health forced O'Connell to reduce his acting appearances in the middle 1970s, but the actor stayed busy as a commercial spokesman, a friendly pharmacist who was a spokesperson for Crest.[1]

At the time of his death from Alzheimer's disease in California in May 1981, O'Connell was appearing by his own choice solely in these commercials. O'Connell is interred at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York.


Year Title Role Notes
1938Freshman YearStudentUncredited
1939Murder in SohoLefty
1940And One Was BeautifulMoroni's Parking AttendantUncredited
Two Girls on BroadwayReporter at WeddingUncredited
I Take This OathCourt ClerkUncredited
The Golden FleecingCameramanUncredited
Dr. Kildare Goes HomeNew InterneUncredited
The Leather PushersReporterUncredited
HullabalooFourth PageUncredited
1941Lucky DevilsPilotUncredited
Citizen KaneReporterUncredited
1942Man from HeadquartersGoldie Shores
Law of the JungleSimmons
Yokel BoySecond Assistant DirectorUncredited
Canal ZoneNew RecruitUncredited
Shepherd of the OzarksBruceUncredited
Blondie's Blessed EventInterneUncredited
Fingers at the WindowPhotographerUncredited
Hello, AnnapolisPharmacist MateUncredited
1948Open SecretCarter
The Naked CitySgt. ShaefferUncredited
State of the UnionFirst ReporterUncredited
HomecomingAmbulance AttendantUncredited
One Touch of VenusReporterUncredited
The Countess of Monte CristoAssistant Director Jensen
Force of EvilLink HallUncredited
1950Love That BruteNewspaperman at FuneralUncredited
1951The Whistle at Eaton FallsJim Brewster
1955PicnicHoward Bevans
1956The Man in the Gray Flannel SuitGordon Walker
The Proud OnesJim Dexter
The Solid Gold CadillacMark Jenkins
Bus StopVirgil Blessing
The Monte Carlo StoryM. Homer Hinkley
1957Operation Mad BallCol. Rousch
The ViolatorsSolomon Baumgarden
April LoveUncle Jed Bruce
1958Voice in the MirrorWilliam R. 'Bill' Tobin
Man of the WestSam Beasley
1959GidgetRussell Lawrence
Anatomy of a MurderParnell Emmett McCarthy
Hound-Dog ManAaron McKinney
Operation PetticoatChief Machinist's Mate Sam Tostin
1960CimarronTom Wyatt
1961The Great ImpostorWarden J.B. Chandler
MistyClarence Beebe
A Thunder of DrumsSgt. Karl Rodermill
Pocketful of MiraclesCount Alfonso Romero
1962Follow That DreamPop Kwimper
1964Kissin' CousinsPappy Tatum
7 Faces of Dr. LaoClint Stark
Your Cheatin' HeartFred Rose
1965Nightmare in the SunSam Wilson
The Monkey's UncleDarius Green III
The Great RaceHenry Goodbody
The Third DayDr. Wheeler
1966Ride Beyond VengeanceThe Narrator
The SilencersJoe Wigman
Fantastic VoyageColonel Donald Reid
Birds Do ItProf. Wald
1967A Covenant with DeathJudge Hockstadter
The Reluctant AstronautArbuckle Fleming
1967-1968The Second Hundred YearsEdwin CarpenterTV Series
1968The PowerProfessor Henry Hallson
If He Hollers, Let Him Go!Prosecutor
1970Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody CameMr. Kruft
There Was a Crooked Man...Mr. Lomax
Do Not Throw Cushions Into the RingBusiness Agent
1971The Last ValleyHoffman
1972BenBilly Hatfield
They Only Kill Their MastersErnie
The Poseidon AdventureChaplain John
1973Wicked, WickedMr. Fenley
1974Huckleberry FinnCol. Grangerford
1975The Hiding PlaceCaspar ten Boom


Arthur O'Connell was born to Julia (nee Byrne) & Michael O'Connell in New York City, New York. He was the youngest of four children. His siblings names were William, Kathleen & Juliette. In 1962, O'Connell married Ann Hall Dunlop (née Ann Byrd Hall; 1917–2000) of Washington, D.C., widow of William Laird Dunlop III (1909–1960). Arthur O'Connell and Ann Hall Dunlop divorced in December 1972 in Los Angeles.


  1. "Arthur O'Connell, 73, Nominated For Oscars For Supporting Roles". The New York Times. May 19, 1981. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  2. "History of Misty of Chincoteague". Misty's Heaven. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
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