Dennis O'Keefe

Dennis O'Keefe (born Edward Vanes Flanagan, Jr.,[3] March 29, 1908 August 31, 1968) was an American actor and writer,

Dennis O'Keefe
Edward Vanes Flanagan, Jr.

(1908-03-29)March 29, 1908
DiedAugust 31, 1968(1968-08-31) (aged 60)
Other namesBud Flanagan
Jonathan Ricks
OccupationActor, writer
Years active19301967
Louise Stanley
(m. 1937; div. 1938)
Steffi Duna
(m. 1940)
Parent(s)Edward Flanagan
Charlotte Flanagan

Early years

Born in Fort Madison, Iowa,[4] O'Keefe was the son of Edward and Charlotte Flanagan,[5] Irish vaudevillians working in the United States. As a small child, he joined his parents' act and later wrote skits for the stage.[4] He attended the University of Southern California but left midway through his sophomore year after his father died.[6]


O'Keefe continued his father's vaudeville act for several years after the father's death.[5] He started in films as an extra in 1931[7] and appeared in numerous films under the name Bud Flanagan. After a small but impressive role in Saratoga (1937), Clark Gable recommended O'Keefe to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which signed him to a contract in 1937 and renamed him Dennis O'Keefe. His film roles were bigger after that, starting with The Bad Man of Brimstone (1938) opposite Wallace Beery, and the lead role in Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1939).

O'Keefe left MGM around 1940 but continued to work in mostly lower budget productions. He often played the tough guy in action and crime dramas, but was also known as a comic actor as well as a dramatic lead.

He gained great attention with a showy role in The Story of Dr Wassell and became a comedy star. He expressed interest in expanding into direction.[8]

In the mid-1940s, he was under a five-year contract to Edward Small.[9] O'Keefe starred in film-noir classics such as T-Men and Raw Deal, both directed by Anthony Mann.

In a 1946 newsreel following Howard Hughes' calamitous plane wreck into a neighbor's Beverly Hills house, O'Keefe can be seen walking through the home inspecting the damage.

In 1950, O'Keefe starred in the radio program T-Man on CBS.[10] Also in the 1950s, he did some directing and wrote mystery stories. He appeared on NBC's legal drama Justice and on the network's The Martha Raye Show. On October 3, 1957, he was a guest star on another NBC variety show, The Ford Show, starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. In 1957 he was to be the permanent host of Suspicion,[11]:1043 an anthology TV series in which ten episodes were produced by Alfred Hitchcock. After two episodes he left the series and was not replaced. From 1959-1960, he was the star of the CBS Television situation comedy, The Dennis O'Keefe Show.[11]

O'Keefe's Broadway credits include Never Live Over a Pretzel Factory (1964) and Never Too Late.[12]

O'Keefe wrote under the pen name Jonathan Ricks. His Don't Pull Your Punches was produced by Warner Bros.[5] In 1947, he was working on plans to co-produce and act in Drawn Sabers, another of his stories.[13] He also wrote and directed Angela.[3]

Personal life

O'Keefe was married to Steffi Duna, an actress and dancer. They had two children, Juliena and James.[14]

O'Keefe was a Roman Catholic[15]. He was also a registered Democrat who supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election[16].


A heavy cigarette smoker, O'Keefe died of lung cancer in 1968 at the age of sixty at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California and was buried at Wee Kirk O' the Heather, Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale).[4]

Selected filmography


  1. "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search".
  2. "Capitol". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. June 13, 1953. p. 9.
  3. "Show's Host Is Noted for Versatility". The Amarillo Globe-Times. Texas, Amarillo. October 14, 1957. p. 19. Retrieved 5 January 2019 via
  4. "Actor Dennis O'Keefe, 60, Dies; Was Native of Iowa". The Des Moines Register. September 2, 1968. p. 11. Retrieved May 21, 2015 via
  5. "Dennis O'Keefe, Son of Vaudeville Performers, Knows the Theater". The Times. Indiana, Munster. July 7, 1939. p. 71. Retrieved 5 January 2019 via
  6. "Majestic". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. March 14, 1942. p. 10. Retrieved 5 January 2019 via
  7. Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 564–565. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  8. "O'Keefe Achieves Stardom; Seeks Director's Post". Los Angeles Times. 12 October 1944.
  9. Philip K. Scheuer (23 August 1948). "Dennis O'Keefe Costar of Small's 'Dark Page;' Carmen, Wally Reunited". Los Angeles Times.
  10. Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  11. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  12. "Dennis O'Keefe". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 4 January 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  13. Parsons, Louella O. (August 9, 1947). "Ann Sothern Loaned to Warners for Musical". The San Francisco Examiner. California, San Francisco. International News Service. p. 12. Retrieved 5 January 2019 via
  14. "Capitol". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. June 13, 1953. p. 9. Retrieved 5 January 2019 via
  15. Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  16. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
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