Porter Hall

Clifford Porter Hall (September 19, 1888 – October 6, 1953) was an American character actor known for appearing in a number of films in the 1930s and 1940s. Hall typically played villains or comedic incompetent characters.

Porter Hall
Hall in 1930
Clifford Porter Hall

(1888-09-19)September 19, 1888
DiedOctober 6, 1953(1953-10-06) (aged 65)
Years active1926–1953
Geraldine Brown
(m. 1927)

Early years

Hall was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, W. A. Hall, headed a cooperage business that ended because of prohibition in the United States. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Hall worked for the Fleischmann Company while also directing and acting in little theater productions in Cleveland.[1]


Hall began his career touring as a stage actor with roles in productions of The Great Gatsby and Naked in 1926. His Broadway credits included The Red Cat (1934), The Dark Tower (1933), The Warrior's Husband (1932), Collision (1932), It's a Wise Child (1929), Night Hostess (1928), Loud Speaker (1927), Naked (1926), and The Great Gatsby (1926).[2]

Hall made his film debut in the 1931 drama Secrets of a Secretary. He made his last onscreen appearance in the 1954 film Return to Treasure Island, which was released after his death.

He was probably best remembered for five roles: a senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, an atheist in Going My Way, the nervous, ill-tempered Granville Sawyer, who administers a psychological test to Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street, a train passenger who encounters a man (Fred MacMurray) who has just committed a murder in Double Indemnity, and the title character's lawyer (Herbert MacCaulay) in The Thin Man.

Personal life

Hall married actress Geraldine Brown in 1927;[3] they had two children. He served as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood for many years.[3]

On October 6, 1953, Hall died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 65. His interment was at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.[4]

Director Russ Meyer named one of the characters in the 1970 cult film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls after Hall.

Complete filmography


  1. Lane, Linda (October 10, 1936). "Confessions Of Hollywood's Movie Villain No. 1". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Hawaii, Honolulu. p. 28. Retrieved 7 April 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  2. "Porter Hall". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 7 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  3. Harrison, Paul (August 30, 1942). "Film Villain Church Deacon; Grows Flowers". Sioux City Journal. Iowa, Sioux City. Newspaper Enterprise Association. p. 27. Retrieved 7 April 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  4. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. pp. 87–88. ISBN 9780786450190. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
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