60 Facts About Donald O'Connor


Donald David Dixon Ronald O'Connor was an American dancer, singer and actor.


Donald O'Connor came to fame in a series of films in which he co-starred with Gloria Jean, Peggy Ryan, and Francis the Talking Mule.


Donald O'Connor won a Primetime Emmy Award from four nominations and received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Donald O'Connor was born in 1925 to Vaudevillians Edward "Chuck" Donald O'Connor and Effie Irene in Chicago, the 200th child born at St Elizabeth Hospital there.


When O'Connor was only two years old, he and his seven-year-old sister, Arlene, were hit by a car while crossing the street outside a theater in Hartford, Connecticut; Donald survived, but his sister died.


Donald O'Connor's mother was extremely possessive of her youngest son due to these traumas, not allowing him to cross the street on his own until he turned 13.


Effie stopped Donald O'Connor from learning hazardous dance routines, and made sure she always knew where he was when he wasn't performing.


Donald O'Connor was a typical stage mother, often striking him.


Donald O'Connor joined a dance act with his mother and elder brother Jack.


Donald O'Connor began performing in movies in 1937, making his debut aged 11 in Melody for Two appearing with his family act.


Donald O'Connor was in Columbia's It Can't Last Forever.


Donald O'Connor appeared in Men with Wings, directed by William Wellman, as Fred MacMurray's character as a boy.


Donald O'Connor was billed fifth in Sing You Sinners playing Bing Crosby's and MacMurray's younger brother.


Donald O'Connor was in Sons of the Legion, then had the second lead in a B-picture, Tom Sawyer, Detective, playing Huckleberry Finn opposite Billy Cook's Tom Sawyer.


Donald O'Connor third billed in both Boy Trouble and Unmarried, playing John Hartley as a young boy in the latter.


Donald O'Connor was billed fourth in Million Dollar Legs with Betty Grable.


Donald O'Connor played Gary Cooper as a young boy in Beau Geste, directed by Wellman.


Night Work was a sequel to Boy Trouble and Donald O'Connor was in Death of a Champion.


Donald O'Connor went to Warner Bros to play Eddie Albert as a young boy in On Your Toes.


Donald O'Connor then returned to his family act in vaudeville for two years.


In 1949, Donald O'Connor played the lead role in Francis, the story of a soldier befriended by a talking mule.


Donald O'Connor followed the first Francis with comedies: Curtain Call at Cactus Creek, The Milkman, and Double Crossbones.


Donald O'Connor did Francis Goes to the Races, another big hit.


In January of 1952 Donald O'Connor signed a three-picture deal with Paramount.


Donald O'Connor maintained he was forced to go to the hospital during the film's production due to injuries and exhaustion.


Donald O'Connor went back to Universal for Francis Goes to West Point then returned to MGM for I Love Melvin a musical with Debbie Reynolds.


Donald O'Connor supported Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam at 20th Century Fox, later saying the film contained his best dancing.


Donald O'Connor did Francis Joins the WACS then played Tim Donahue in the 20th Century Fox all-star musical There's No Business Like Show Business, which featured Irving Berlin's music and starred with Ethel Merman, Marilyn Monroe, Dan Dailey, Mitzi Gaynor and Johnnie Ray.


Donald O'Connor was meant to play Bing Crosby's partner in White Christmas.


Donald O'Connor was unavailable because he contracted an illness transmitted by the mule and was replaced in the film by Danny Kaye.


Donald O'Connor starred in The Donald O'Connor Show for one season.


Donald O'Connor was a regular host of NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour.


Donald O'Connor was reluctant to keep making Francis films but agreed to Francis in the Navy.


Arthur Lubin, who directed the series, later recalled that Donald O'Connor "got very difficult" to work with after a while.


That studio released The Buster Keaton Story, in which Donald O'Connor had the title role.


Donald O'Connor hosted a color television special on NBC in 1957, one of the earliest color programs to be preserved on a color kinescope; an excerpt of the telecast was included in NBC's 50th anniversary special in 1976.


Donald O'Connor teamed with Glenn Ford in Cry for Happy at Columbia and he played the title role in The Wonders of Aladdin for MGM.


Donald O'Connor subsequently focused on theatre work and his nightclub act, performing in Las Vegas.


Donald O'Connor returned to Universal for the first time in ten years to make the Sandra Dee comedy That Funny Feeling.


Donald O'Connor did episodes of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Vacation Playhouse, ABC Stage 67 and The Jackie Gleason Show.


The program was cancelled due to the dancer becoming "too political," and Donald O'Connor was reprimanded by the studio.


Donald O'Connor began to use nitroglycerin pills before performances so that he would have the stamina to complete them.


Donald O'Connor then suffered a heart attack in 1971, leading him to quit taking the medication.


Donald O'Connor was in a TV production of Li'l Abner and continued to perform on stage, notably in Las Vegas.


Donald O'Connor guest-starred on episodes of The Girl with Something Extra, Ellery Queen, The Bionic Woman, Police Story, and Hunter.


Donald O'Connor claimed to have overcome his depression after being hospitalized for three months after collapsing in 1978.


Donald O'Connor wrote letters to his friends and family explaining that his life had "completely changed".


Donald O'Connor credited the patients he met and thanked God for allowing him to recover.


Donald O'Connor appeared as a gaslight-era entertainer in the 1981 film Ragtime, notable for similar encore performances by James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.


Donald O'Connor appeared in the short-lived Bring Back Birdie on Broadway in 1981.


Donald O'Connor was Cap'n Andy in a short-lived Broadway revival of Show Boat and continued to tour in various shows and acts.


Donald O'Connor bought a theatre, the Donald O'Connor Theatre, and would perform in it with his children.


Donald O'Connor developed heart trouble and underwent successful quadruple-bypass surgery in 1990.


Donald O'Connor continued to make film and television appearances into the 1990s, including the Robin Williams film Toys as the president of a toy-making company.


Donald O'Connor had guest roles in Murder, She Wrote, Tales from the Crypt, The Building, The Nanny and Frasier, and was in the films Bandit: Bandit's Silver Angel, and Father Frost.


Donald O'Connor married his second wife, actress Gloria Noble, in 1956; they remained together until his death in 2003.


Donald O'Connor was honored with a retrospective at New York's Lincoln Center and an honorary degree from Boston University.


Donald O'Connor chose to keep much of his philanthropy work private.


Donald O'Connor had undergone quadruple heart bypass surgery in 1990, and he nearly died from pleural pneumonia in January 1999.


Donald O'Connor's belongings were auctioned off and all proceeds were given to charity.