Victor McLaglen

Victor McLaglen

in Sea Devils (1937)
Born Victor Andrew de Bier Everleigh McLaglen
(1886-12-10)10 December 1886
Stepney, East London, England
Died 7 November 1959(1959-11-07) (aged 72)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1920–1958
Spouse(s) Enid Lamont (1919-1942) (her death)
Suzanne M. Brueggeman (1943-1948)
Margaret Pumphrey (1948-1959) (his death)

Victor Andrew de Bier Everleigh McLaglen (10 December 1886 – 7 November 1959) was an English boxer and First World War veteran who became a film actor.[1] He was known as a character actor, particularly in westerns, and made seven films with John Ford and John Wayne. McLaglen won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1935 for his role in The Informer.

Early life

McLaglen claimed to have been born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, though his birth certificate records Stepney in the East End of London as his true birthplace.[2] His father, Andrew Charles Albert McClaglen, later a bishop of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church of England,[3] moved the family to South Africa when McLaglen was a child. He had eight brothers and a sister. Four of his brothers also became actors: Arthur (1888–1972), an actor and sculptor, and Clifford (1892–1978), Cyril (1899–1987) and Kenneth (c. 1901-1979).[4] Other siblings included Frederick (born c. 1882), Sydney (born c. 1884), Lewis (born c. 1889) and a sister, Lily (born c. 1893). Another brother, Leopold McLaglen (1884-1951), who appeared in one film, gained notoriety prior to the First World War I as a showman and self-proclaimed world jujutsu champion,[5] who authored a book on the subject.[6]

Before Hollywood

He left home at fourteen to join the British Army with the intention of fighting in the Second Boer War. However, much to his chagrin, he was stationed at Windsor Castle in the Life Guards[7] and was later forced to leave the army when his true age was discovered.

Four years later, he moved to Canada, where he earned a living as a wrestler and heavyweight boxer, with several notable wins in the ring. One of his most famous fights was against heavyweight champion Jack Johnson in a six-round exhibition bout.[8] This was Johnson's first bout since winning the heavyweight title from Tommy Burns. Between bouts, McLaglen toured with a circus, which offered $25 to anyone who could go three rounds with him. He also briefly served as a constable in the Winnipeg Police Force in 1907.He returned to Britain in 1913 and during the First World War served as a captain (acting) with the 10th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, part of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires). Later, he claimed to have served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. He served for a time as military Assistant Provost Marshal for the city of Baghdad.[9] He also continued boxing, and was named heavyweight champion of the British Army in 1918.[8] After the war, he began taking roles in British silent films.

Film career

McLaglen and Cary Grant in Gunga Din

McLaglen's career took a surprise turn in the 1920s when he moved to Hollywood. He became a popular character actor, with a particular knack for playing drunks. He also usually played Irishmen, leading many film fans to mistakenly assume he was Irish rather than English. McLaglen played one of the titular Unholy Three in Lon Chaney, Sr.'s original silent version of the macabre crime drama. The following year, McLaglen was the top-billed leading manlead in director Raoul Walsh's First World War classic What Price Glory?(1926) with Edmund Lowe and Dolores del Rio. (McLaglen and Lowe reprised their roles from the movie in the radio program Captain Flagg and Sergeant Quirt, broadcast on the Blue Network (28 September 1941 – 25 January 1942, and on NBC 13 February 1942 – 3 April 1942.)[10]

He made the transition to sound films with ease, memorably starring opposite Boris Karloff's crazed religious fanatic in John Ford's The Lost Patrol (1934), a picture about desperate soldiers gradually losing their minds fighting Arabs in the desert of what is now Iraq. Another highlight of his career was winning an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Ford's The Informer (1935), based on a novel of the same name by Liam O'Flaherty; Frank Tashlin's 1938 cartoon Have You Got Any Castles? features a caricature of McLaglen emerging from the novel and literally informing someone about some shady characters. Arguably his most famous film apart from What Price Glory? remains Gunga Din (1939), with Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., an adventure epic loosely based on Rudyard Kipling's poem that served as the template decades later for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). McLaglen was later nominated for another Oscar, this time for an Best Supporting Actor for his role opposite John Wayne in The Quiet Man (1952). He was especially popular with director John Ford, who frequently included McLaglen in his films, earlier as leading man, then later as comedy relief for films starring John Wayne.

Toward the end of his career, McLaglen made several guest appearances on television, particularly in Western series such as Have Gun, Will Travel and Rawhide. The episodes in which McLaglen guest-starred were both directed by his son, Andrew V. McLaglen, who later became a film director who frequently directed John Wayne.

Personal life

In 1935, McLaglen spent a reported $40,000 to build his own stadium near Riverside Drive and Hyperion Avenue, near Griffith Park and the Atwater Village neighbourhood of Los Angeles. The stadium was used for football and many other activities. The Los Angeles River flood of 1938 seriously damaged the stadium, and it fell into disuse thereafter.[11][12] In 1941, he was selected as the grand marshal of the Clovis Rodeo parade in Clovis, California.[13]

Victor McLaglen was married three times. He first married Enid Lamont in 1919. The couple had one daughter, Sheila, and one son, Andrew. Andrew McLaglen was a television and film director who worked on several film projects with John Wayne. Andrew's children, Mary and Josh McLaglen, are both film producers and directors. Sheila's daughter, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, is a television director. Enid Lamont McLaglen died in 1942 as a result of a horse riding accident.

Victor McLaglen married twice more. His second marriage was to Suzanne M. Brueggeman. That marriage lasted from 1943 until 1948. His third and final marriage was to Margaret Pumphrey, a Seattle socialite he married in 1948.[14] They remained married until his death of a heart attack in 1959. He had by that time become a naturalized U.S. citizen. His cremated remains are interred at Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Garden of Memory, Columbarium of Eternal Light.[15]

On February 8, 1960, McLaglen received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1735 Vine Street, for his contributions to the motion picture industry making him one of fewer than a hundred Oscar-winning male actors in Hollywood history to be honored with a star.[16][17]


Year Title Role Notes
1920 Call of the Road, TheThe Call of the Road Alf Truscott
1921 Carnival Baron
1921 Corinthian Jack Jack Halstead
1921 Prey of the Dragon, TheThe Prey of the Dragon Brett 'Dragon' Mercer
1921 Sport of Kings, TheThe Sport of Kings Frank Rosedale
1922 Glorious Adventure, TheThe Glorious Adventure Bulfinch
1922 Romance of Old Baghdad, AA Romance of Old Baghdad Miski
1922 Little Brother of God King Kennidy
1922 Sailor Tramp, AA Sailor Tramp Sailor Tramp, TheThe Sailor Tramp
1922 Crimson Circle, TheThe Crimson Circle
1923 Romany, TheThe Romany Chief, TheThe Chief
1923 Heartstrings Frank Wilson
1923 Woman to Woman Nubian slave Uncredited
1923 M'Lord of the White Road Lord Annerley / John
1923 In the Blood Tony Crabtree
1924 Boatswain's Mate, TheThe Boatswain's Mate Ned Travers
1924 Women and Diamonds Brian Owen
1924 Gay Corinthian, TheThe Gay Corinthian Squire Hardcastle
1924 Passionate Adventure, TheThe Passionate Adventure Herb Harris
1924 Beloved Brute, TheThe Beloved Brute Charles Hinges
1925 Hunted Woman, TheThe Hunted Woman Quade
1925 Percy Reedy Jenkins
1925 Unholy Three, TheThe Unholy Three Hercules, the strongman
1925 Winds of Chance Poleon Doret
1925 Fighting Heart, TheThe Fighting Heart Soapy Williams
1926 Isle of Retribution, TheThe Isle of Retribution Doomsdorf
1926 Men of Steel Pete Masarick
1926 Beau Geste Hank
1926 What Price Glory? Capt. Flagg
1927 The Loves of Carmen Escamillo
1928 Mother Machree Giant of Kilkenny (Terence O'Dowd), TheThe Giant of Kilkenny (Terence O'Dowd) With John Ford & John Wayne.
1928 Girl in Every Port, AA Girl in Every Port Spike Madden
1928 Hangman's House Citizen Denis Hogan With John Ford & John Wayne.
1928 River Pirate, TheThe River Pirate Sailor Fritz
1929 Captain Lash Captain Lash
1929 Strong Boy Strong Boy
1929 Black Watch, TheThe Black Watch Capt. Donald Gordon King With John Ford & John Wayne.
1929 Happy Days Minstrel Show Performer
1929 Cock-Eyed World, TheThe Cock-Eyed World Top Sergeant Flagg
1929 Hot for Paris John Patrick Duke
1930 On the Level Biff Williams
1930 Devil with Women, AA Devil with Women Jerry Maxton
1931 Dishonored Col. Kranau
1931 Three Rogues Bull Stanley
1931 Stolen Jools, TheThe Stolen Jools Sergeant Flagg
1931 Women of All Nations Captain Jim Flagg
1931 Annabelle's Affairs John Rawson / Hefly Jack
1931 Wicked Scott Burrows
1932 The Gay Caballero Don Bob Harkness / El Coyote
1932 Devil's Lottery Jem Meech
1932 While Paris Sleeps Jacques Costaud
1932 Guilty as Hell Detective Capt. T.R. McKinley
1932 Rackety Rax 'Knucks' McGloin
1933 Hot Pepper Jim Flagg
1933 Laughing at Life Dennis P. McHale / Burke / Captain Hale
1934 Lost Patrol, TheThe Lost Patrol Sergeant, TheThe Sergeant
1934 No More Women Forty-Fathoms
1934 Wharf Angel Turk
1934 Dick Turpin Dick Turpin
1934 Murder at the Vanities Police Lt. Bill Murdock
1934 Captain Hates the Sea, TheThe Captain Hates the Sea Junius P. Schulte
1935 Under Pressure Jumbo Smith
1935 Great Hotel Murder, TheThe Great Hotel Murder Andrew W. 'Andy' McCabe
1935 Informer, TheThe Informer Gypo Nolan Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1935 Professional Soldier Michael Donovan
1936 Klondike Annie Bull Brackett
1936 Under Two Flags J.C. Doyle
1936 Magnificent Brute 'Big Steve' Andrews as Victor McLaglen - Academy Award Winner
1937 Sea Devils CPO William 'Medals' Malone
1937 Nancy Steele Is Missing! Dannie O'Neill
1937 This Is My Affair Jock Ramsay
1937 Wee Willie Winkie Sgt. Donald MacDuff
1937 Ali Baba Goes to Town Himself Uncredited
1938 Battle of Broadway Big Ben Wheeler
1938 Devil's Party Marty Malone
1938 We're Going to Be Rich Dobbie
1939 Pacific Liner J.B. 'Crusher' McKay, Chief Engineer
1939 Gunga Din Sgt. 'Mac' MacChesney
1939 Let Freedom Ring Chris Mulligan
1939 Ex-Champ Tom 'Gunner' Grey
1939 Captain Fury Jerry Black aka Blackie
1939 Full Confession Patt McGinnis
1939 Rio Dirk
1939 Big Guy, TheThe Big Guy Warden Bill Whitlock
1940 South of Pago Pago Bucko Larson
1940 Diamond Frontier Terrence Regan
1941 Broadway Limited Maurice 'Mike' Monohan
1942 Call Out the Marines Sgt. Jimmy McGinnis
1942 Powder Town Jeems O'Shea
1942 China Girl Major Bull Weed
1943 Forever and a Day Archibald Spavin (hotel doorman)
1944 Tampico Fred Adamson
1944 Roger Touhy, Gangster Herman 'Owl' Banghart
1944 Princess and the Pirate, TheThe Princess and the Pirate Captain Barrett ak The Hook
1945 Rough, Tough and Ready Owen McCare
1945 Love, Honor and Goodbye Terry O'Farrell
1946 Whistle Stop Gitlo
1947 Calendar Girl Matthew O'Neil
1947 Michigan Kid, TheThe Michigan Kid Curley Davis
1947 Foxes of Harrow, TheThe Foxes of Harrow Captain Mike Farrell
1948 Fort Apache Sgt. Festus Mulcahy With John Ford & John Wayne.
1949 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon Top Sgt. Quincannon With John Ford & John Wayne.
1950 Rio Grande Sgt. Maj. Timothy Quincannon With John Ford & John Wayne.
1952 Quiet Man, TheThe Quiet Man Squire 'Red' Will Danaher With John Ford & John Wayne
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1953 Fair Wind to Java O'Brien
1953 This Is Your Life Himself episode: Victor McLaglen
1954 Prince Valiant Boltar
1954 Trouble in the Glen Parlan
1955 Many Rivers to Cross Mr. Cadmus Cherne
1955 City of Shadows Big Tim Channing
1955 Bengazi Robert Emmett Donovan
1955 Lady Godiva of Coventry Grimald
1956 Around the World in 80 Days Helmsman of the SS Henrietta
1957 Abductors, TheThe Abductors Tom Muldoon
1958 Have Gun - Will Travel Mike O'Hare episode: The O'Hare Story
1958 Gli Italiani sono matti Sergente O'Riley
1958 Sea Fury Captain Bellew
1959 Rawhide Harry Wittman episode: Incident of the Shambling Man, (Last appearance)

See also


  1. Obituary Variety, 11 November 1959, page 79.
  2. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  3. Victor McLaglen’s father – new revelations; Peter Anson BISHOPS AT LARGE (1964) has further information on Bishop McLaglen.
  4. Victor McLaglen, Query. Great War Forum. 19 March 2006.
  5. "The Science of Jiujitsu". Journal of Non-lethal Combatives. December 2002.
  6. Noble, Graham. Early Ju-jutsu: The Challenges.
  8. 1 2 Victor McLaglen. Cyber Boxing Zone.
  9. Victor McLaglen myth?. Great War Forum. 26 September 2005.
  10. Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Pp. 136-137.
  11. Jim Thurman, "10 L.A. Sports Venues That Are No More", LA Weekly, 23 December 2013.
  12. Ted Elrick, Los Angeles River (Arcadia Publishing, 2008), ISBN 978-0738547183, pp. 27, 45-47. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  13. 102nd Clovis Rodeo Official Souvenir Program, Page 12
  14. Time Magazine, Milestones
  15. "Victor McLaglen (1886 - 1959) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2015-12-25.
  16. "Victor McLaglen | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  17. "Victor McLaglen". Retrieved 2016-07-19.
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