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Don DeFore

Don DeFore at the 39th Emmy Awards
Born Donald John DeFore
August 25, 1913(1913-08-25)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Died December 22, 1993 (aged 80)
Los Angeles, California
Spouse(s) Marion Holmes (m. 1942)
Official website

Donald John DeFore (August 25, 1913 – December 22, 1993) was an American actor who played "the regular guy" and "the good, ol' boy next door" in many films in the 1940s and 1950s.


Life and career

He was born in 1913 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His father was Joseph Ervin DeFore (1878 – 1942), a railroad engineer. His mother was Albina Sylvia Nezerka (1883 – 1975).

DeFore's film appearances include: Brother Rat (uncredited, 1938, starring Ronald Reagan), The Male Animal (1942), The Human Comedy (uncredited, 1943), A Guy Named Joe (1943), Thirty Seconds over Tokyo (1944) with Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, The Affairs of Susan (1945) with Joan Fontaine, You Came Along (1945), Without Reservations (1946), It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947), Ramrod (1947), Romance on the High Seas (first film & acting debut of Doris Day, (1948), My Friend Irma (1949), Too Late for Tears (1949), Dark City (first film & acting debut of Charlton Heston, (1950), Southside 1-1000 (1950), The Guy Who Came Back (1951), A Girl in Every Port (1952), Jumping Jacks (1952), Battle Hymn (1957), A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), and The Facts of Life (1960) with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball.

DeFore is best known for his television work. Beginning in 1952, DeFore had a recurring role as the Nelsons' friendly neighbor "Thorny" on the comedy series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.[1] On May 6, 1953, he was the honoree on TV's This Is Your Life,[2] a show that surprised the honoree on nationwide live TV with accolades from coworkers, friends and family. DeFore was led by Ozzie Nelson to believe that they were doing a live promotional spot for The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet on Hollywood Blvd., and suddenly he was surprised to hear Ralph Edwards say: "Don DeFore - This is your life!" DeFore admirably managed to retain his composure while moving to the El Capitan Theatre where the remainder of the broadcast took place, which included friends and family members from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

From 1954 – 1955, he served as President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He was instrumental in arranging for the Emmy Awards to be broadcast on national TV for the first time on March 7, 1955. That year, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Regular Series for his work on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.[3]

From 1957 – 1962, with his brother Verne DeFore (1918 – 2005), he operated Don DeFore's Silver Banjo Barbecue in Frontierland of Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. They were the only sole proprietors ever permitted by Walt Disney and Disneyland to operate an independent business and restaurant inside Disneyland.[4] [5]

Beginning in 1961, DeFore appeared on the TV series Hazel[6] as "Mr. B." (George Baxter), employer of spirited housekeeper Hazel Burke with Shirley Booth in the title role and Whitney Blake as Mrs. Baxter. The series ran on primetime from 1961 – 1966. DeFore was not seen in the 1965-66 season, when the show moved from NBC to CBS.

In 1942, DeFore married Marion Holmes (born Marion Holm in Chicago on January 21, 1918). Marion Holmes was a singer with the Henry Busse Orchestra from 1935—1939, and later with Art Kassel and his "Castles in the Air" from 1939 – 1942.[7][8] Judy Garland was the maid of honor at the DeFore wedding on Feb. 14, 1942.[9] DeFore and his wife were longtime residents of the Mandeville Canyon section of Brentwood, and DeFore was the first "Honorary Mayor" of Brentwood. They had five children – Penny (born 1943), David (1945), Dawn (1948), Ron (1950) and Amy (1959).

He was a longtime friend of actor-turned-politician Ronald Reagan. On October 15, 1966, DeFore helped Reagan launch his political career by hosting a live TV campaign rally on Los Angeles KNXT-TV (now KCBS-TV) Channel 2 - "Reagan Team Bar-B-Que" - that helped Ronald Reagan win as governor of California.

Don DeFore died on December 22, 1993 at the age of eighty. He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.


External links



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