Arthur O’Connell was born on 29 March 1908 in New York City, USA and died on 18 May 1981 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles,California, USA due to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Though veteran character actor Arthur O’Connell looked as countrified as apple pie, looking ever more comfy in overalls than he ever did in a suit. Arthur made his stage debut in the mid 1930s and came into contact with Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre. As a result, he earned the bit role of a reporter in the final scenes of Citizen Kane (1941).
Making little leeway in films, Arthur O’Connell returned to the Broadway lights where he played Polonius in “Hamlet” and Banquo in “Macbeth”, finally gaining considerable attention as the amiable bachelor storekeeper in “Picnic” in 1953.
Arthur transferred the role successfully to film three years later and began a series of flawed and forlorn characters on TV and the screen from then on. A particular standout was as James Stewart’s boozed up attorney and mentor in Anatomy of a Murder (1959) for which he won his second Oscar-nomination for “best supporting actor” (the first was for Picnic (1956) three years earlier). The mustachioed Arthur O’Connell usually played wise, helpful and friendly, and he also inhabited crafty villains from time to time, but there was always an unhappy ambiance and ‘loser’ quality in his elderly gents, which made you feel sorry for him. Arthur played Monte Markham’s “son” (Markham had been frozen in an iceberg, which explains Markham’s young appearance) in the 1967 sitcom “The Second Hundred Years” but the series was short-lived. A popular guest star on all the major shows in the 70s, he was forced to curtail his work load as the progression of Alzheimer’s began to steadily creep in. At the time of his death in 1981, Arthur O’Connell was appearing solely in toothpaste commercials.
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