James Cardwell (actor)

James "Jimmy" Cardwell (born Albert Paine Cardwell; November 21, 1921 – January 31, 1954)[1][2][Note 1] was an American actor who appeared in more than twenty Hollywood films in the 1940s.

James Cardwell
Cardwell in He Walked by Night (1948)
Albert Paine Cardwell

(1921-11-21)November 21, 1921
DiedJanuary 31, 1954(1954-01-31) (aged 32)
Cause of deathSuicide (gunshot)
Years active1944–1954
Spouse(s)Esther Borton (divorced)


Cardwell is probably best known for his debut as George Sullivan in 1944's Oscar-nominated The Fighting Sullivans,[3][4] based on the true story of five navy brothers who died in action together when their ship was torpedoed in the Pacific Theater during World War II. His other significant roles included the Benny Goodman musical Sweet and Low-Down (1944),[5] the World War II drama A Walk in the Sun (1945),[6] and the police drama He Walked By Night (1948).[7] Reviewing the 1945 Charlie Chan mystery The Shanghai Cobra, the Kentucky New Era remarked that "James Cardwell, a newcomer to the screen, shows himself to be a fine actor as the romantic lead opposite beautiful Joan Barclay."[8] However, he soon found himself consigned to B-movies; 1949's Daughter of the Jungle, in which Cardwell played the male lead opposite Lois Hall, earned the dubious distinction of a listing in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.[9]

In 1950, Cardwell toured Australia with comedian Joe E. Brown in a production of the play Harvey.[6][10] He then joined the Colleano Troupe, a variety act, with whom he toured Australia, the UK, and the USA.[11] After returning to the USA he made two guest appearances in the Rod Cameron television series City Detective.[12] However, his movie career had stalled. He made only one further big-screen appearance before his death: a small unbilled role in the 1954 monster film Them![2]

Personal life

Cardwell was born Albert Paine Cardwell in Camden, New Jersey, the son of Raymond Cardwell and Bessie McCarroll. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1940.[2]

In 1942 he married Esther Borton. They divorced two years later.[2] In 1951 he became engaged to Australian model June Crocker, but she ended their relationship after she suffered serious burns in a stage accident.[13] According to author Jeffery P. Dennis, Cardwell subsequently "came out" as gay.[14]


Apparently disheartened by his faltering career and financial difficulties, Cardwell fatally shot himself at the age of 32 in Los Angeles, California on January 31, 1954.[12][15][Note 1]



  1. Sources listing Cardwell's year of birth as 1920 appear to be in error. His death certificate records that he shot himself Sunday, January 31, 1954, and his body was discovered the following day.[2] Some sources, including the California Death Index, give February 1, 1954 as his "official" date of death.


  1. "California Death Index, 1940-1997". Family Search. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  2. Cohen, Phil. "James Cardwell". Interesting People of Camden NJ. DVRBS. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  3. "The Sullivans". Academy Awards Database. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  4. "Hollywood Letter: Nationwide Search for 5 Screen Sullivans". The Advocate. Tasmania, Australia. 15 June 1945. p. 6. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  5. Coons, Robbin (26 February 1944). "Hollywood Sights and Sounds". Prescott Evening Courier. p. 4. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  6. "Hollywood Actor Here To Join Stage Group". The West Australian. Perth, Australia. 31 May 1951. p. 4. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  7. Alvarez, Max (2014). The Crime Films of Anthony Mann. University Press of Mississippi. p. 138. ISBN 9781626740051.
  8. "The Shanghai Cobra coming to Kentucky". Kentucky New Era. 14 January 1947. p. 8. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  9. Medved, Harry; Dreyfuss, Randy (1978). The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (and how they got that way). Popular Library. ISBN 0445041390.
  10. "Theatre Music: Harvey". The Advocate. Melbourne, Australia. 8 June 1950. p. 18. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  11. "Day and Nite". Nevada State Journal. 4 May 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 19 March 2016 via Newspaperarchive.com.
  12. "The Final Curtain". The Billboard. 13 February 1954. p. 62. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  13. "Flames Ate Into The Spirit As Well As The Body Of Luscious Cover-Girl". The Mirror. Perth, Australia. 26 December 1953. p. 8. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  14. Dennis, Jeffery P. (2006). Queering Teen Culture. New York: Harrington Park Press. p. 7. ISBN 1560233494. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  15. "Cardwell services are being arranged". Spokane Daily Chronicle. 4 February 1954. p. 16. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
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