Donald Cook (actor)

For other people with similar names, see Donald Cook.
Donald Cook

Cook in a 1936 publicity photo
Born (1901-09-26)September 26, 1901
Portland, Oregon, U.S.[1]
Died October 1, 1961(1961-10-01) (aged 60)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place River View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Alma mater University of Oregon[1]
Occupation Actor
Years active 1926–1959

Donald Cook (September 26, 1901 – October 1, 1961) was an American stage and film actor who had a prolific career in Pre-Code Hollywood films and on Broadway. Cook is perhaps best known for his film roles in The Public Enemy (1931), Safe in Hell (1931), Baby Face (1933), and Viva Villa! (1934), as well as for his stage role as David Naughton in Claudia, which ran for a total of 722 performances on Broadway between 1941 and 1943.[2] He was also one of the first actors to play Ellery Queen.


Cook was born and raised in Portland, Oregon,[1] and originally studied farming but later worked for a lumber company. Cook attended the University of Oregon.[1] He joined the Kansas Community Players and through this received an offer of stage work. He started screen work in "shorts" before going on to feature films.

Cook was known for his portrayal of Mike Powers in the film The Public Enemy. He also was one of the first film actors to portray Ellery Queen, in The Spanish Cape Mystery. He played the role of Steve opposite Helen Morgan's Julie in the 1936 film adaptation of Show Boat, was one of the suspects in the Philo Vance mystery The Casino Murder Case, and starred as an heroic U.S. Immigrant Inspector of the Deporting Squad in the 1936 movie, Ellis Island.

Cook made his Broadway debut in 1926 as Donn Cook in Seed of the Brute, and his New York theatrical career continued over the following three decades. His credits included a 1948 revival of Private Lives and the original 1951 Broadway run of The Moon Is Blue.

Cook was married to Princess Gioia Tasca di Cuto from 1937 until his death from a heart attack in New Haven aged 60, in the midst of rehearsals for Cook's new play, A Shot in the Dark, an adaptation of L'Idiote.[3] Walter Matthau replaced Cook's leading role in the play following his death.[3]

Cook is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.[4] He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at the 1700 block of Vine Street.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1931 Unfaithful Terry Houston
1931 The Public Enemy Mike Powers
1931 Party Husband Horace Purcell
1931 Smart Money Nick's Second Accomplice Uncredited
1931 Side Show Joe Palmer
1931 The Mad Genius Fedor Ivanoff
1931 Safe in Hell Carl Bergen
1932 Taxi! Ferdinand Uncredited
1932 The Man Who Played God Harold Van Adam
1932 The Heart of New York Milton
1932 The Trial of Vivienne Ware John Sutherland
1932 The Conquerors Lennox
1932 Penguin Pool Murder Philip Seymour
1932 Frisco Jenny Dan Reynolds
1933 Private Jones Lt. John Gregg
1933 The Circus Queen Murder The Great Sebastian
1933 The Kiss Before the Mirror Maria's Lover
1933 Jennie Gerhardt Lester Kane
1933 The Woman I Stole Corew
1933 Baby Face Stevens
1933 Brief Moment Franklin Deane
1933 Fury of the Jungle "Lucky" Allen
1933 Fog Wentworth Brown
1933 The World Changes Richard Nordholm
1934 Long Lost Father Bill Strong
1934 The Ninth Guest Jim Daley
1934 Whirlpool Bob Andrews
1934 Viva Villa! Don Felipe de Castillo
1934 Most Precious Thing in Life Bob Kelsey
1934 Jealousy Mark Lambert
1934 Fugitive Lady Jack Howard
1935 Behind the Evidence Ward Cameron
1935 The Night Is Young Toni Berngruber
1935 Gigolette Gregg Emerson
1935 The Casino Murder Case Lynn
1935 Motive for Revenge Barry Webster
1935 Murder in the Fleet Lt. Cmdr. David Tucker
1935 Here Comes the Band Don Trevor
1935 Ladies Love Danger Tom Lennox
1935 The Spanish Cape Mystery Ellery Queen
1935 Confidential FBI Agent Dave Elliott
1935 The Calling of Dan Matthews Frank Blair
1936 The Leavenworth Case Dr. Truman Harwell
1936 Ring Around the Moon Ross Graham
1936 The Girl from Mandalay Kenneth Grainger
1936 Show Boat Steve Baker
1936 Ellis Island Gary Curtis
1936 Can This Be Dixie? Longstreet Butler
1936 Beware of Ladies George Martin
1937 Two Wise Maids Bruce Arnold
1937 Circus Girl Charles Jerome
1944 Freedom Comes High The Captain Short film
1944 Murder in the Blue Room Steve
1944 Bowery to Broadway Dennis Dugan
1945 Here Come the Co-Eds Dean Larry Benson
1945 Patrick the Great Pat Donahue, Sr.
1945 Blonde Ransom Duke Randall
1950 Our Very Own Fred Macaulay
Year Title Role Notes
1951 Prudential Family Playhouse Tony Kenyon 1 episode
1952 Lux Video Theatre Tad Bryson / Bruce Wallace / Roger 1 episode
1959 Too Young to Go Steady Tom Blake 7 episodes

Stage credits

  • Seed of the Brute (1926)
  • New York Exchange (1927)
  • Spellbound (1927)
  • Paris Bound (1927)
  • Half Gods (1929)
  • Rebound (1930)
  • Wine of Choice (1938)
  • American Landscape (1938)
  • Skylark (1939)
  • Claudia (1941)
  • Foolish Notion (1945)
  • Made in Heaven (1946)
  • Portrait in Black (1947)
  • Private Lives (1948)
  • The Moon Is Blue (1951)
  • King of Hearts (1954)
  • Champagne Complex (1955)
  • Goodbye Again (1956)
  • Love Me Little (1958)


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Veteran actor dies". Reading Eagle. New Haven, Connecticut. October 2, 1961. p. 3. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  2. "Claudia". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  3. 1 2 Edelman, Rob; Kupferberg, Audrey. Matthau: A Life. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 131.
  4. "Donald Cook". NNDB. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  5. "Donald Cook". Los Angeles Times. Hollywood Star Walk. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  6. "Donald Cook". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
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