Francis Curray McHugh
May 23, 1898
Homestead, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||September 11, 1981 (aged 83)|
Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor of stage, radio, film, and television|
Dorothy Spencer McHugh
|Parent(s)||Edward A. McHugh|
Katherine Curry McHugh
Francis Curray McHugh (May 23, 1898 – September 11, 1981), was an American stage, radio, film and television actor.
Born in Homestead, Pennsylvania of Irish descent, McHugh came from a theatrical family. His parents, Edward A. "Cutie" McHugh and Katherine Curry "Katie" McHugh, ran the McHugh stock theater company in Braddock, Pennsylvania. As a young child he performed on stage. His brother Matt and sister Kitty performed in an act with him by the time he was 10 years old, but the family quit the stage around 1930. Another brother, Ed, became a stage manager and agent in New York.
Leaving the family stage company at age 17, McHugh went to Pittsburgh as leading man and stage manager at the Empire Theater there. He spent nine years in stock companies and road troupes before appearing on Broadway.
McHugh debuted on Broadway in The Fall Guy, written by George Abbott and James Gleason in 1925. He also appeared in Show Girl (1929), a musical. In that same year, he made his first film, If Men Played Cards as Women Do, a short produced by Paramount. First National Pictures hired him as a contract player in January 1930.
McHugh played everything from leading man to sidekick. He often provided comic relief, particularly as genial—or obnoxious— inebriates. A wheezy, drawn-out mocking laugh, accompanied by a waving, admonitory finger, was his trademark. He appeared in more than 150 films and television productions and worked with almost every star at Warner Bros. A close friend of James Cagney, he appeared in more Cagney movies than any other actor—eleven films between 1932 and 1953. Their friendship lasted until McHugh's death.
Cast as Father Timothy O'Dowd in the 1944 Bing Crosby film, Going My Way, McHugh later played William Jennings Depew in the 1962 episode "Keep an Eye on Santa Claus" in the ABC television series, Going My Way, starring Gene Kelly, and loosely based on the earlier film.
From 1964 to 1965, he played Willie Walters, a live-in handyman in the 27-episode ABC sitcom The Bing Crosby Show, which reunited him once again onscreen with Bing Crosby. The show also co-starred Beverly Garland. McHugh's last feature film role was as a comical "sea captain" in the 1967 Elvis Presley caper film Easy Come, Easy Go. McHugh's last television appearance was as handyman Charlie Wingate in "The Fix-It Man", an episode of CBS's Lancer Western series, which starred Andrew Duggan.
McHugh belonged to a group of friends, known in Hollywood as the “Irish Mafia,” that included his close friends James Cagney, Pat O’Brien and Spencer Tracy, as well as fellow actors Allen Jenkins, Ralph Bellamy, Lynne Overman and Frank Morgan.
World War II
During World War II, McHugh joined the Hollywood Victory Caravan, a group that included 21 stars traveling around the country on a special train, performing in several cities over the course of three weeks in 1942 to raise money for the Army and Navy Relief Society. He followed that with a USO tour of England, appearing in the American Variety Show with Al Jolson, Merle Oberon, Patricia Morison and Allen Jenkins.
McHugh returned to Europe with a USO show created by him, “McHugh’s Revue,” which toured France, Holland, Belgium and Germany in November and December of 1944. McHugh, four beautiful girls (actresses Mary Brian, June Clyde, Charlotte Greer and Nina Nova) and piano-player Eddie Eisman toured the front line, entertaining and meeting the troops. The McHugh Papers at the New York Public Library include many accounts of the tour. For his work with the USO, McHugh received a citation “for exceptionally meritorious service while working as a member of an entertainment unit” from the U.S. Army, signed by Major General Raymond S. McLain. In a 1945 letter to McHugh and his troupe, McLain wrote:
“I want to make of record what I was glad to say to each of you when you left and what many of the command said to you then and what they have said to me since — “That your show was like an oasis in this desert of hardship and suffering”. It reminded us what a vital factor a bit of entertainment is in this business where boredom is almost as difficult to bear as the hardships of the campaign. Your show was sparkling, and left a refreshing atmosphere in the spirit of many battle weary soldiers.”
Personal life and death
McHugh was married to Dorothy Spencer from 1933 until his death. They had three children and two grandchildren. His brother Matt McHugh and sister Kitty McHugh were also actors who both appeared in many films.
On September 11, 1981, McHugh died in Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut at age 83.
- If Men Played Cards as Women Do (1929, Short) as 3rd Card Player
- The Dawn Patrol (1930) as Flaherty
- Top Speed (1930) as Tad Jordan
- Bright Lights (1930) as A. Hamilton Fish, a reporter
- College Lovers (1930) as Speed Haskins
- The Widow from Chicago (1930) as Slug O'Donnell
- Going Wild (1930) as 'Ricky' Freeman
- Kiss Me Again (1930) as Francois
- Millie (1931) as John Holmes
- The Front Page (1931) as McCue
- Up for Murder (1931) as Collins
- Men of the Sky (1931)
- That's News to Me (1931, Short)
- Traveling Husbands (1931) as Pinkie
- The Hot Spot (1931, Short) as Peter Burke
- The Great Junction Hotel (1931, Short) as Peeping Tom
- Bad Company (1931) as Doc - Henchman
- The Big Scoop (1931, Short)
- Corsair (1931) as 'Chub' Hopping
- The Wide Open Spaces (1931, Short) as Matt - a Gambler
- Union Depot (1932) as The Drunk
- High Pressure (1932) as Mike Donahey
- Extra! Extra! (1932, Short)
- The Crowd Roars (1932) as Spud Connors
- The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932) as Skeets - a Reporter
- The Dark Horse (1932) as Joe
- Blessed Event (1932) as Reilly
- Life Begins (1932) as Ringer Banks
- One Way Passage (1932) as Skippy
- Parachute Jumper (1933) as Toodles Cooper
- Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) as Jim
- Grand Slam (1933) as Philip 'Speed' McCann
- The Telegraph Trail (1933) as Corporal Tippy
- Private Jones (1933) as 'Greasy' - the Cook
- Elmer, the Great (1933) as Healy High-Hips
- Lilly Turner (1933) as David 'Dave' Dixon
- Ex-Lady (1933) as Hugo Van Hugh
- Hold Me Tight (1933) as Billy
- Tomorrow at Seven (1933) as Clancy
- Professional Sweetheart (1933) as Speed Dennis
- Footlight Parade (1933) as Francis
- Havana Widows (1933) as Duffy
- Son of a Sailor (1933) as 'Gaga'
- The House on 56th Street (1933) as Chester Hunt
- Convention City (1933) as Will Goodwin
- Not Tonight, Josephine (1934, Short) as Napoleon
- Fashions of 1934 (1934) as Snap
- Heat Lightning (1934) as Frank - the chauffeur
- Merry Wives of Reno (1934) as Al
- Let's Be Ritzy (1934) as Bill Damroy Robert
- Smarty (1934) as George Lancaster
- Return of the Terror (1934) as Joe Hastings
- Here Comes the Navy (1934) as Droopy
- Happiness Ahead (1934) as Tom
- 6 Day Bike Rider (1934) as Clinton Hemmings
- Maybe It's Love (1935) as Willie Sands
- Devil Dogs of the Air (1935) as Crash Kelly
- Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935) as Humbolt Prentiss
- The Irish in Us (1935) as Mike O'Hara
- Page Miss Glory (1935) as Ed Olson
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) as Quince - the Carpenter
- Stars Over Broadway (1935) as Offkey Cramer
- Freshman Love (1936) as Coach Hammond
- Moonlight Murder (1936) as William
- Snowed Under (1936) as Orlando Rowe
- Bullets or Ballots (1936) as Herman McCloskey
- Stage Struck (1936) as Sid
- Three Men on a Horse (1936) as Erwin Trowbridge
- Ever Since Eve (1937) as 'Mabel' DeCraven
- Marry the Girl (1937) as David 'Party' Partridge
- Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937) as 'Sniffer' Sears
- Submarine D-1 (1937) as 'Lucky'
- Swing Your Lady (1938) as Popeye
- He Couldn't Say No (1938) as Lambert T. Hunkins
- Little Miss Thoroughbred (1938) as Tod Harrington
- Four Daughters (1938) as Ben Crowley
- Boy Meets Girl (1938) as Rossetti
- Valley of the Giants (1938) as 'Fingers' McCarthy
- Wings of the Navy (1939) as Scat Allen
- Dodge City (1939) as Joe Clemens
- Daughters Courageous (1939) as George
- Indianapolis Speedway (1939) as 'Spud' Connors
- Dust Be My Destiny (1939) as Caruthers
- On Your Toes (1939) as Paddy Reilly
- The Roaring Twenties (1939) as Danny Green
- Four Wives (1939) as Ben Crowley
- The Fighting 69th (1940) as 'Crepe Hanger' Burke
- Alex in Wonderland (1940, Short) as Narrator (voice, uncredited)
- Virginia City (1940) as Mr. Upjohn
- 'Til We Meet Again (1940) as Rockingham T. Rockingham
- I Love You Again (1940) as 'Doc' Ryan
- City for Conquest (1940) as 'Mutt'
- Four Mothers (1941) as Ben Crowley
- Back Street (1941) as Ed Porter
- Manpower (1941) as Omaha
- All Through the Night (1942) as Barney
- Her Cardboard Lover (1942) as Chappie Champagne
- Going My Way (1944) as Father Timothy O'Dowd
- Marine Raiders (1944) as Sgt. Louis Leary
- Bowery to Broadway (1944) as Joe Kirby
- A Medal for Benny (1945) as Edgar Lovekin
- State Fair (1945) as McGee
- The Hoodlum Saint (1946) as Three Finger
- The Runaround (1946) as Wally Quayle
- Little Miss Big (1946) as Charlie Bryan
- Easy Come Easy Go (1947) as Carey
- Carnegie Hall (1947) as John Donovan
- The Velvet Touch (1948) as Ernie Boyle
- Mighty Joe Young (1949) as Windy
- Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949) as Mr. Kilcoyne
- Paid in Full (1950) as Ben - Bartender
- The Tougher They Come (1950) as Gig Rafferty
- The Pace That Thrills (1952) as Rocket Anderson
- My Son John (1952) as Father O'Dowd
- It Happens Every Thursday (1953) as Fred Hawley
- A Lion Is in the Streets (1953) as Frank Rector
- There's No Business Like Show Business (1954) as Eddie Dugan
- The Last Hurrah (1958) as Festus Garvey
- Say One for Me (1959) as Jim Dugan
- Career (1959) as Charlie Gallagher
- The Spiral Staircase (1961, TV Movie) as Constable Williams
- Inside Danny Baker (1963, TV Movie) as Mr. Johansen
- A Tiger Walks (1964) as Bill Watkins
- Easy Come, Easy Go (1967) as Captain Jack
Short subjects as himself:
- An Intimate Dinner in Celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee (1930)
- Hollywood Newsreel (1934) (uncredited)
- A Dream Comes True (1935)
- Screen Snapshots Series 15, No. 3 (1935)
- Screen Snapshots Series 16, No. 1 (1936)
- A Day at Santa Anita (1937)
- Sunday Night at the Trocadero (1937)
- Breakdowns of 1938 (1938)
- "Frank McHugh: A Beloved Character Actor Who Played an Important Role in World War II". The New York Public Library. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
- Dennis, Ken (Winter 2017–18). "Frank McHugh: Master of Mirth". Films of the Golden Age (91): 42–50.
- Nollen, Scott A. (2014). Glenda Farrell: Hollywood's Hardboiled Dame. Midnight Marquee & BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-9361-6847-7. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
- Ed A. McHugh at the Internet Broadway Database
- "June DeLong". The Unsung Joe. July 16, 2010.
- "Warner and F.N. Players". Variety. June 25, 1930. p.��30. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
- Hischak, Thomas S. (2008). The Oxford Companion to the American Musical. p. 482. ISBN 978-0-1953-3533-0. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
- Cox, Jim (July 17, 2009). The A to Z of American Radio Soap Operas. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-8108-6349-1.
- Terrace, Vincent (September 2, 2015). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
- "Frank McHugh, longtime character actor, is dead". Chicago Tribune. New York Times News Service. September 14, 1981. p. Section 3–27. Retrieved December 4, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Frank McHugh.|
- Frank McHugh at the Internet Broadway Database
- Frank McHugh at IMDb
- New York Public Library blog on Frank McHugh
- Frank McHugh at the TCM Movie Database
- Frank McHugh at AllMovie
- Frank McHugh at Find a Grave
- Frank McHugh and Family papers, 1894-1969, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- Literature on Frank McHugh