Classic Hollywood #44 – Brian Donlevy & Marjorie Lane

Brian Donlevy and Wife Marjorie Lane At A Party 1946

Brian Donlevy and wife Marjorie Lane

Brian Donlevy is one of those stars who you see in a lot of films from the 1930’s – 60’s who has been mostly forgotten by today’s generation. That is a shame because he was a good actor who starred in some excellent films including Beau Geste (1939), The Great McGinty (1940), The Glass Key (1942), Kiss Of Death (1947) and The Big Combo (1955).

Donlevy took his role as the sadistic Sergeant Markoff in Beau Geste a little too seriously alienating many of the other cast members to the point that they all supposedly detested him. In one of the final scenes in the film, John Geste played by actor Ray Milland, kills Donlevy with a bayonet. According to director William Wellman and corroborated by Ray Milland in each of their autobiographies, Milland actually stabbed Donlevy near his left armpit. The rest of the cast was elated, Milland was apologetic.

This photo above was taken by Nat Dallinger, the great photographer of Hollywood’s stars during its off hours at home and at play. King Features Syndicate would distribute Dallinger’s photos called “Inside Hollywood with Nat Dallinger” with many of captions written by Dallinger himself.

Here is the original caption:

Brian Donlevy and his wife Marjorie are seen adding their voices to a songfest at a party in Hollywood. Songs with an Irish lilt are Brian’s favorite tunes. The dramatic screen star was born in Portadown, County Armagh, Ireland. Arriving in the United States when he was 10 months old, he later won an appointment at the Unites States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Taking part in academy theatricals led to a career in motion pictures. The “tough guy” tag which he earned in many motion pictures hardly suits his “real guy” personality. His personal friends know him as an easy-going guy whose hobby is spending all of his spare time entertaining his baby daughter. – King Features Syndicate: week ending September 12 1946

Donlevy may have enjoyed entertaining his baby daughter, but that wasn’t his only “hobby.” Donlevy’s hobbies were gold mining and writing poetry.

Donlevy divorced his wife Marjorie Lane in 1948 after 12 years of marriage. Donlevy died of throat cancer in 1972 at the age of 71. Marjorie Lane died in 2012 at the age of 100.

One thought on “Classic Hollywood #44 – Brian Donlevy & Marjorie Lane

  1. jbdean

    It wasnt that Brian took his role too seriously. The “gang” didnt care for Brian’s faithfukness to his wife. The rest of the cast and director would go into a local town to “unwind” (which would often include prostitutes) and Brian would stay behind. They felt he thought himself better than them and made every attempt to make him misserable. Research will show that Wellman was a nortorious carouser, especially on location and away from wives. It is true that Milland stabbed Brian but he claimed it was an accident as long as he lived (at least to the public). In a barechested photo of Brian from Song of Scheherazade, you can see the scar near his ribcage.

    I used to run (which I had to let go for financial reasons). Brian is my favorite actor of all time. Thete isn’t much I dont know about him.


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