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January 19, 2022

40 Vintage Photos of Donald O’Connor in the 1940s and ’50s

Born 1925 in Chicago, Illinois, American dancer, singer and actor Donald O’Connor joined a dance act with his mother and elder brother Jack. They were billed as the O’Connor Family, the Royal Family of Vaudeville. They toured the country doing singing, dancing, comedy, and acting.

O’Connor began performing in movies in 1937, making his debut aged 11 in Melody for Two appearing with his family act. He was also in Columbia’s It Can’t Last Forever (1937). He came to fame in a series of films in which he co-starred with Gloria Jean, Peggy Ryan, and Francis the Talking Mule.

O’Connor received an offer to play Cosmo the piano player in Singin’ in the Rain (1952) at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical. The film featured his widely known rendition of “Make ’Em Laugh,” which he choreographed with help from the assistant dance directors and his brother. He also won a Primetime Emmy Award from four nominations and received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame throughout his career.

O’Connor died from complications of heart failure in 2003, at the age of 78 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, in Woodland Hills, California. These vintage photos captured portraits of a young Donald O’Connor in the 1940s and 1950s.


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