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Legendary Supporting Actor Harry Davenport

Updated on July 22, 2014

Can you think of a single film that Harry Davenport was not in during the hayday of films in the 1930's and 1940's? Seriously, this man made 160 films starting in 1914 and was still making films in 1949 at the time of his death. He was 48 years old when he made his first silent film and had come from the stage just like his parents before him.

Harry was born in New York City on January 19, 1866 and took his first bow on stage at age 5 and was performing Shakespeare in his teens. He made his Broadway debut in 1894 and co-founded the Actor's Equity Association along with legendary Eddie Foy.

His first film in 1914 was Too Many Husbands, but, it would be in the mid 1930's before fame would arrive for Harry Davenport.

In The Life of Emile Zola in 1937 starring Paul Muni, Harry would portray the Chief of Staff of the French military.

Made for Each Other with James Stewart and Carole Lombard in 1939 would list Harry as Dr. Healy, a role Harry would become accustomed to portraying in films to come.

Harry would portray Judge Rider in 1939's The Story of Alexander Graham Bell... another role he would portray again. This is the only film in which all four of the Young sisters would be together. These sisters I refer to include Loretta Young and her three siblings.

In Juarez with Paul Muni and Bette Davis in 1939, Harry would once again portray a doctor. Here he is with Bette behind the scenes.

The film that everyone can name that Harry took part in was Gone With the Wind in 1939 where he portrayed Dr. Meade who patched up the wounded Ashley.

Again in 1939 as King Louis XI in The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Maureen O'Hara.

1940's All this and Heaven Too starred Bette Davis. Harry would portray a French nobleman, Pierre.

In 1942's Kings Row with future president Ronald Reagan giving his best performance as an actor and Ann Sheridan. In this film, Reagan loses his leg to a sadistic surgeon. Harry plays Colonel Skeffington.

As Grandpa in 1944's Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland.

Once again playing a judge in 1946's Courage of Lassie with Elizabeth Taylor.

Here comes the doctor again in 1949's Little Women with June Allyson and Margaret O'Brien.


Harry Davenport's last film was Frank Capra's Riding High which was released the year after Harry's death. Harry Davenport is the man I remember fondly when I think of supporting characters. He had a distinctive high pitched gravel voice, a tough demeanor when he needed it and a warm, amiable smile more often than not. He was a gifted thespian and one that will not soon be forgotten.

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    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Love him, and you are right, he was in so many movies. I loved him in St. Louis. Must say, GWTW remains my all time favorite.

      Thanks for another great hub!

    • discovery2020 profile image
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      WILLIAM EVANS 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Thanks, CLF. My wife's favorite as well. Thanks for the input.

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      jeharr 5 years ago

      Your right. When we would see him in a film we would say, there he is again, wonder who he is?

    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 4 years ago from California

      I have always loved this guy. I love old movies and I certainly remember him from Gone With the Wind, and Meet Me in St. Louis, but I never knew him by name. Thanks for this interesting hub.

    • discovery2020 profile image
      Author

      WILLIAM EVANS 4 years ago from TEXAS

      Thanks for stopping by, Skarlet. You are very welcome.

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