Tom Tully

Tom Tully (born Thomas Kane Tulley; August 21, 1908 – April 27, 1982) was an American actor. He began his career in radio and on the stage before making his film debut in Northern Pursuit (1943). Subsequently, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in The Caine Mutiny (1954).

Tom Tully
Tully and Dorothy McGuire in the short film Reward Unlimited (1944)
Thomas Kane Tulley

(1908-08-21)August 21, 1908
DiedApril 27, 1982(1982-04-27) (aged 73)
Years active1937–1973
Helen Ross
(m. 1930; div. 1935)

Frances McHugh
(m. 1938; her death 1953)

Ida Johnson
(m. 1954; his death 1982)

In 1960, Tully was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry.

Early years

Born in Durango in southwestern Colorado, Tully was the son of Thomas H. Tulley and Victoria Lenore Day Tulley.[1] He served in the United States Navy, was a private pilot, and worked as a reporter for the Denver Post in Denver, before he entered acting with the expectation of better pay.[1]


Tully debuted on Broadway in Call Me Ziggy (1937). His other Broadway credits include The Sun Field (1942), The Strings, My Lord, Are False (1942), Jason (1942), Ah, Wilderness! (1941), The Time of Your Life (1940), Night Music (1940), The Time of Your Life (1939), The White Steed (1939), and Chalked Out (1937).[2]


In the era of old-time radio, Tully had the lead role of Joe in the serial Home of the Brave.[3]:155 He also played Jim Carroll in the serial Life Begins,[3]:198 Uncle Willie in the comedy My Mother's Husband,[3]:247 and Charles Martin in the serial Stella Dallas.[3] He was a frequent guest actor on Gunsmoke, portraying a wide range of parts.


Tully's Hollywood film career spanned from the early 1940s until 1973. After a brief appearance in the film Carefree (1938), he next appeared in I'll Be Seeing You (1944) as Shirley Temple's character's father.[1]

He received an Academy Award nomination for Actor in a Supporting Role for portraying the first commander of the Caine in 1954's The Caine Mutiny,[4] with Humphrey Bogart.

His last feature film role was as a crooked gun dealer in Don Siegel's thriller Charley Varrick (1973), with Walter Matthau.[5]


From 1954 through 1960, he played the role of police Inspector Matt Grebb on the CBS police drama, The Lineup,[6] with co-star Warner Anderson. In repeats, The Lineup was known as San Francisco Beat.

He made two appearances as Rob Petrie's (Dick Van Dyke) father on CBS's The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1964 and 1966. This role reunited Tully with Jerry Paris from The Caine Mutiny. He also was a guest star on the Andy Griffith show during the seventh season. He played Walt, the milkman in the Episode, "Goodbye, Dolly."

In 1962, he appeared on the NBC modern western series, Empire in the role of Tom Cole in the episode "Long Past, Long Remembered." Richard Jordan appeared in this episode too as Jay Bee Fowler. The series starred Richard Egan as New Mexico rancher Jim Redigo. In 1963, he was cast as Danny Mundt in "A Taste for Pineapple" of the ABC crime drama, The Untouchables. That same year he portrayed Jethro Tate in "Who Killed Billy Jo?" on another ABC crime drama, Burke's Law, with Gene Barry.

In 1964, Tully had two appearances on CBS's Perry Mason. The first was as defendant Carey York in "The Case of the Arrogant Arsonist;" the second was as murder victim Harvey Scott in "The Case of the Nautical Knot." During the 1966 season of ABC's Shane western series, he made 17 appearances as Tom Starett.[6]:954

Later, Tully continued his acting in television dramas such as Mission: Impossible and The Rookies.

Later years

In November 1969, Tully traveled to South Vietnam, currently Vietnam, for the United Service Organization. His "handshake tour" took him to hospitals, radio interviews, and flight behind enemy lines, courtesy of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, to visit strategic military outposts such as the "Hawks Nest" in the Phum Valley. While in Vietnam entertaining troops, Tully contracted a filarial worm,[1] similar to the creature that causes elephantiasis. After returning to the United States, his condition worsened. Because a blood clot in a major vein shut off circulation, his left leg was amputated close to the hip. The amputation was performed in Laguna Beach, California, close to his home in San Juan Capistrano. Complications from his surgery caused pleuritis, deafness, and serious debilitation.

At the time of his death, Tully had completed a manuscript about his grandmother and grandfather, David F. Day, a Medal of Honor recipient in the American Civil War. Day enlisted in the army at age 14, served with the 57th Ohio Infantry, fought in the battles of Shiloh and Stones River, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions when he was just 16 years old. Day was the owner of the newspaper in Ouray, Colorado, formerly known as The Solid Muldoon, now the Durango Herald.

Personal life

In 1930, Tully married Helen Brown in Colorado. They had a daughter, and they were divorced on November 26, 1935. In 1938, he married actress Frances McHugh, to whom he remained wed until her death in 1953. On June 20, 1954, he married Ida Johnson in Los Angeles, and they remained married until his death.[1]


Tully died of cancer at the age of 73 on April 27, 1982 at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, California.[5]

Partial filmography


  1. Aaker, Everett (2017). Television Western Players, 1960–1975: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. p. 423. ISBN 978-1-4766-2856-1. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  2. "Tom Tully". Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on 22 April 2018. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  3. Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  4. "Tom Tully". Academy Awards Database. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  5. "Actor Tom Tully is dead at 85; Oscar nominee for 'Caine Mutiny'". Chicago Tribune. United Press International. April 26, 1982. p. Section 4 - Page 13. Retrieved April 21, 2018 via
  6. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 608. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
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