King Donovan

King Donovan (January 25, 1918 – June 30, 1987) was an American film, stage, and television actor, as well as a film and television director.

King Donovan
King Donovan in 1968
Born(1918-01-25)January 25, 1918
DiedJune 30, 1987(1987-06-30) (aged 69)
Years active1948–1984
Spouse(s)Imogene Coca (m. 1960–1987, his death)

Acting work


His film acting work includes Jack in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers; a role later reprised by Jeff Goldblum in the 1978 version, Solly in The Defiant Ones, Joe Capper in Cowboy, Mack McGee in the original Angels in the Outfield, Major Collins in The Perfect Furlough, and an uncredited but recognizable role in Singin' in the Rain as Rod (head of the Publicity Department).


In 1948, Donovan appeared on Broadway in The Vigil. In 1968, he toured with his wife Imogene Coca in a productions of You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running” and “Once upon a Mattress.”


Notable television roles include Jake Clampett (a deadbeat who mooches off the Clampetts) for two episodes of CBS's The Beverly Hillbillies, Blanche Morton's (Bea Benaderet's) brother Roger Baker on eight episodes of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show,[1] and Harvey Helm in a 17-episode stint on NBC's The Bob Cummings Show. Donovan also appeared in six episodes as Chris Norman of It's a Great Life, a sitcom with Frances Bavier, James Dunn and Michael O'Shea, which aired on NBC from 1954 to 1956. About this time, he also guest starred on Ray Bolger's ABC sitcom, Where's Raymond?[2] and the NBC sitcom, The People's Choice, with Jackie Cooper. He also guest starred on the David Janssen crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. In 1956 he appeared as Joe Baker on the TV western Cheyenne in the episode titled "Mustang Trail." He played Mark Dawson in the 1959 Maverick episode "Maverick Springs". He was also in Wanted: Dead or Alive in the 1959 episode "Bad Gun" as the gun dealer Sheridan Appleby, in which he tries to recover a defective pistol that he had sold to an outlaw. He and Steve McQueen rescue a kidnapped senator's daughter when the faulty firearm explodes in the face of the bad guy.[3]

Donovan guest starred as Paddy Britt in the 1960 episode "The Boy from Pittsburgh" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds and set in the 1840s. Child actor Tom Nolan was cast in the title role as Tommy Jones, a stowaway on the vessel, the Enterprise. In the story line, series lead character Grey Holden (McGavin) transports a box of diamonds, unknowing that a pickpocket has taken the gems and switched the contents of the box. Mona Freeman appeared in this episode as Louise Rutherford, a beautiful widow, with other roles for the character actors Francis De Sales and Robert Emhardt.[4]

In 1963, he played the part of Poke Tolliver in the episode "Incident of the Buryin' Man" on CBS's Rawhide. Between 1965 and 1967, Donovan had a recurring role as neighbor Herb---whose mission in life seemed to be getting from his house through the study window of professor Jim Nash in less than a full minute---on the situation comedy Please Don't Eat the Daisies.

Directing work

In 1963 Donovan directed the film Promises! Promises!, which received attention as the first Hollywood sound film to feature a mainstream film star (Jayne Mansfield) nude. Later the same year Donovan directed two episodes of Grindl, which starred his wife Imogene Coca and two more the next year.

Personal life and death

Donovan married comedienne Imogene Coca on October 17, 1960, and remained married to her until he died of cancer on Tuesday, June 30, 1987, in the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, Connecticut.


As an actor
Title Year Role Notes
Open Secret1948Fawnes, Bigot Gang Memberfilm debut
Man from Texas1948Sam (mortgage officer)Uncredited
Shockproof1949Joe Wilsonfirst time Donovan played a character with a first and last name
Alias Nick Beal1949Peter WolfeDonovan's highest billed role (7th) at the time
I Was a Male War Bride1949Minro RoleScenes deleted
All the King's Men1949ReporterWon the Academy Award for Best Picture
The Pilgrimage Play1949Salathiel
Side Street1950Det. GottschalkUncredited
One Way Street1950Grieder
Cargo to Capetown1950Sparky Jacksonstars John Ireland, the star of Donovan's debut film
Mystery Street1950Reporter at Beach HouseUncredited
A Lady Without Passport1950SurgeonUncredited
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye1950DriverUncredited
Right Cross1950Fifth ReporterUncredited
The Sun Sets at Dawn1950Reporter, National News Service
Storm Warning1951Ambulance Driverstarred future president Ronald Reagan
The Enforcer1951Sgt. Whitlow
The Great Missouri Raid1951WitnessUncredited
Three Guys Named Mike1951WillyUncredited
The Redhead and the Cowboy1951Munroe
The Scarf1951Piano PlayerUncredited
Little Bighorn1951Pvt. James Corbo
The Prince Who Was a Thief1951MeratUncredited
Take Care of My Little Girl1951Cab DriverUncredited
His Kind of Woman1951ReporterUncredited
Angels in the Outfield1951Mack McGeeFirst Donovan film to be remade. First time Donovan appeared in a film trailer.
Behave Yourself!1951Lingerie Shop ManagerUncredited
Come Fill the Cup1951Kip ZunchesUncredited
The Unknown Man1951News Photographer on Courthouse StepsUncredited
Something to Live For1952Stage ManagerUncredited
Singin' in the Rain1952RodAlthough his role is uncredited it is recognizable. Film voted best musical of the century and fifth best film of the century by AFI.
Glory Alley1952Telephone TechnicianUncredited
Sally and Saint Anne1952Hymie Callahan
The Merry Widow1952Nitki
The Mississippi Gambler1953SpudUncredited
The Magnetic Monster1953Dr. Dan Forbes
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms1953Dr. Ingersoll
Hannah Lee1953Sheriff's DeputyUncredited
The Kid from Left Field1953BartenderUncredited
The Caddy1953DrunkUncredited
Half a Hero1953Sam Radwell
City of Bad Men1953Hotel ClerkUncredited
Three Sailors and a Girl1953SailorUncredited
Easy to Love1953Ben
Forever Female1953Playwright
Riders to the Stars1954James O'Herli
Broken Lance1954ClerkUncredited
Private Hell 361954Evney SerovitchUncredited
The Bamboo Prison1954Pop
The Seven Little Foys1955HarrisonUncredited
Not as a Stranger1955Mr. SlocumUncredited
Invasion of the Body Snatchers1956Jack Belicec
The Birds and the Bees1956Waiter
The Iron Sheriff1957Leveret
Cowboy1958Joe Capper - Trail Hand
The Defiant Ones1958Solly
The Perfect Furlough1958Maj. Collins
The Hanging Tree1959Wonder
The Thrill of It All1963TV ExecutiveUncredited
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World1963Airport OfficialUncredited
Nothing Lasts Forever1984Lunartini Husband(final film role)

Donovan filmed scenes for an undetermined role in the 1949 film I Was a Male War Bride, but his scenes were deleted.

As director
Title Date Notes
Promises! Promises!1963First sound film to feature a mainstream film star (Jayne Mansfield) nude. Only film Donovan ever directed.
Grindl1963–1964Series starred Donovan's wife, Imogene Coca.
4 episodes
That Girl19681 episode


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