Donald Cook (actor)

Donald Cook (September 26, 1901 – October 1, 1961) was an American stage and film actor who had a prolific career in pre-Code Hollywood films and on Broadway. Cook is perhaps best known for his film roles in The Public Enemy (1931), Safe in Hell (1931), Baby Face (1933), and Viva Villa! (1934), as well as for his stage role as David Naughton in Claudia, which ran for a total of 722 performances on Broadway between 1941 and 1943.[2] He was also one of the first actors to play Ellery Queen.

Donald Cook
Cook in a 1936 publicity photo
Born(1901-09-26)September 26, 1901
DiedOctober 1, 1961(1961-10-01) (aged 60)
Resting placeRiver View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon, U.S.
45.465°N 122.673°W / 45.465; -122.673
Alma materUniversity of Oregon[1]
Years active1926–1959


Cook was born and raised in Portland, Oregon,[1] and originally studied farming but later worked for a lumber company. Cook attended the University of Oregon.[1] He joined the Kansas Community Players and through this received an offer of stage work. He started screen work in "shorts" before going on to feature films.

Cook was known for his portrayal of Mike Powers in the film The Public Enemy. He also was one of the first film actors to portray Ellery Queen, in The Spanish Cape Mystery. He played the role of Steve opposite Helen Morgan's Julie in the 1936 film adaptation of Show Boat, was one of the suspects in the Philo Vance mystery The Casino Murder Case, and starred as an heroic U.S. Immigrant Inspector of the Deporting Squad in the 1936 movie, Ellis Island.

Cook made his Broadway debut in 1926 as Donn Cook in Seed of the Brute, and his New York theatrical career continued over the following three decades. His credits included a 1948 revival of Private Lives and the original 1951 Broadway run of The Moon Is Blue.

Cook was married to Princess Gioia Tasca di Cuto from 1937 until his death from a heart attack in New Haven aged 60, in the midst of rehearsals for Cook's new play, A Shot in the Dark, an adaptation of L'Idiote.[3] Walter Matthau took over Cook's leading role in the play following his death.[3]

Cook is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.[4]

For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Cook was honored with a Hollywood Walk of Fame star located at 1718 Vine Street.[5][6]


Year Title Role Notes
1931UnfaithfulTerry Houston
1931The Public EnemyMike Powers
1931Party HusbandHorace Purcell
1931Smart MoneyNick's Second AccompliceUncredited
1931Side ShowJoe Palmer
1931The Mad GeniusFedor Ivanoff
1931Safe in HellCarl Bergen
1932The Man Who Played GodHarold Van Adam
1932The Heart of New YorkMilton
1932The Trial of Vivienne WareJohn Sutherland
1932The ConquerorsWarren Lennox
1932Penguin Pool MurderPhilip Seymour
1932Frisco JennyDan Reynolds
1933Private JonesLt. John Gregg
1933The Circus Queen MurderThe Great Sebastian
1933The Kiss Before the MirrorMaria's Lover
1933Jennie GerhardtLester Kane
1933The Woman I StoleCorew
1933Baby FaceStevens
1933Brief MomentFranklin Deane
1933Fury of the Jungle"Lucky" Allen
1933FogWentworth Brown
1933The World ChangesRichard Nordholm
1934Long Lost FatherBill Strong
1934The Ninth GuestJim Daley
1934Viva Villa!Don Felipe de Castillo
1934WhirlpoolBob Andrews
1934The Most Precious Thing in LifeBob Kelsey
1934JealousyMark Lambert
1934Fugitive LadyJack Howard
1935Behind the Evidence Ward Cameron
1935The Night Is YoungToni Berngruber
1935GigoletteGregg Emerson
1935The Casino Murder CaseLynn Llewellyn
1935Motive for RevengeBarry Webster
1935Murder in the FleetLt. Cmdr. David Tucker
1935Here Comes the BandDon Trevor
1935Ladies Love DangerTom Lennox
1935The Spanish Cape MysteryEllery Queen
1935ConfidentialFBI Agent Dave Elliott
1935The Calling of Dan MatthewsFrank Blair
1936The Leavenworth CaseDr. Truman Harwell
1936Ring Around the MoonRoss Graham
1936The Girl from MandalayKenneth Grainger
1936Show BoatSteve Baker
1936Ellis IslandGary Curtis
1936Can This Be Dixie?Longstreet Butler
1936Beware of LadiesGeorge Martin
1937Two Wise MaidsBruce Arnold
1937Circus GirlCharles Jerome
1944Freedom Comes HighThe CaptainShort film
1944Murder in the Blue RoomSteve
1944Bowery to BroadwayDennis Dugan
1945Here Come the Co-EdsDean Larry Benson
1945Patrick the GreatPat Donahue, Sr.
1945Blonde RansomDuke Randall
1950Our Very OwnFred Macaulay
Year Title Role Notes
1951Prudential Family PlayhouseTony Kenyon1 episode
1952Lux Video TheatreTad Bryson / Bruce Wallace / Roger1 episode
1959Too Young to Go SteadyTom Blake7 episodes, (final appearance)

Stage credits

  • Seed of the Brute (1926)
  • New York Exchange (1927)
  • Spellbound (1927)
  • Paris Bound (1927)
  • Half Gods (1929)
  • Rebound (1930)
  • Wine of Choice (1938)
  • American Landscape (1938)
  • Skylark (1939)
  • Claudia (1941)
  • Foolish Notion (1945)
  • Made in Heaven (1946)
  • Portrait in Black (1947)
  • Private Lives (1948)
  • The Moon Is Blue (1951)
  • King of Hearts (1954)
  • Champagne Complex (1955)
  • Goodbye Again (1956)
  • Love Me Little (1958)


  1. "Veteran actor dies". Reading Eagle. New Haven, Connecticut. October 2, 1961. p. 3. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  2. "Claudia". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  3. Edelman, Rob; Kupferberg, Audrey. Matthau: A Life. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 131.
  4. "Donald Cook". NNDB. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  5. "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Donald Cook". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  6. "Donald Cook". Los Angeles Times. Hollywood Star Walk. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  7. "Donald Cook". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
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