Gargan (Jul 17.1905 - Feb 16.1979)
6' (1.83 m)
Kenny (19 Jan 1928 - his death)
Children: Berry or Barrie (1929) & Leslie Howard (28 jun 1933)
Brother: Edward F. Gargan (actor)
Above right: Mr & Mrs William Gargan with their children,
Berry (the elder) and Leslie Howard Gargan
William Dennis Gargan
in Brooklyn, New York, USA
and son of a bill collector/bookmaker and Irene G. Flynn.
Gargan is know to have had a
series of jobs ranging from
soda jerking to street car conducting
but after leaving high school (St.James School,
he had a number of white collar jobs.
first worked as a credit investigator and collection agent for a clothing firm.
Once Gargan was shot at when he attempted to get a deadbeat customer to pay his
overdue account. Next, he worked for about a year as a
private detective with a New York agency for "$10.00 a day and expenses." Gargan
did many of the usual detective jobs: guarding payrolls, tailing possible
suspects, conducting stakeouts, and protecting clients with valuables. He was
fired when he lost track of a diamond salesman he was supposed to be protecting.
he became bored with the routine of a regular job he turned
to acting... .within a year he made it
Bill auditioned for, and won a part in Aloma of the South Seas
(1925) on stage. Bill married Mary Kenny, a former dancer
in 1928. A successful career on Broadway led, to his
movie debut in Rain (1932)
Early in his career, between acting jobs, Gargan got a job selling bootleg
whiskey to New York City speakeasies.
In 1932 he won great acclaim for his work in
Philip Barry's Broadway play
The Animal Kingdom, leading to an invitation from Hollywood where he made
his film debut in 1932.
In most of his screen appearances, Gargan basically
played himself: a robust, handsome, high-spirited Irishman. His "serious" film
work included noteworthy performances in Rain
(1932), The Story of Temple
(1933), Four Frightened People
You Only Live Once
Above left: A W. Somerset Maugham tale provided the story
for Rain (1932) Miss Sadie
Thompson (Joan Crawford), a prostitute, quickly catches the eye of Sergeant Tim
O'Hara (William Gargan)
Above right: Headline Shooters
(1933) Reporter Bill Allen (William Gargan) gets the story regardless of the
consequences but when Allen meets no-nonsense Jane Mallory (Frances Dee) he
falls in love. Co-stars included Ralph Bellamy and Jack La Rue.
Above left: Stewart Corder (William Gargan) with schoolteacher
Judy Jones (Claudette Colbert) in Four Frightened People (1934).
Above right: Black Fury (1935) brought us William Gargan as Slim
Johnson opposite Paul Muni.
He was breezier, and more entertaining, in B-films
such as Headline Shooters
(1933), Man Hunt
(1936), Wings Over Honolulu
(1937), and Bombay Clipper
Above left: William Gargan and the wonderful Helen Mack in
The Milky Way (1936) a Harold
Above right: Sky Parade
(1936) In this airborne adventure, three pals from WW I team up to run a
commercial airline. Katherine DeMille and William Gargan.
Above left: The House of Fear (1939) An actor, John
Woodford , dies on stage during a performance of a play. His body is taken to
his dressing room, where it disappears. The theatre is closed for over a year,
and rumors that Woodford's ghost haunts it spread all over Broadway. A detective
(William Gargan), posing as a producer , rents the theatre and attempts to
present the same play, but all sorts of "ghostly occurrences" happen to try to
thwart his plans. With Irene Hervey, Harvey Stevens.
Above right: For his work in They Knew What They
Wanted (1940), he received a "Best Supporting Actor"
Oscar nomination. Here he is pictured with co-star Carole Lombard.
For his work in They Knew What They Wanted (1940), he received
a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar nomination.
Whilst during the '30s he played
high-energy, gregarious leads in many "B"-movies and second leads in major
films; later he moved into character roles e.g.
I Wake Up Screaming
(1941), Who Done It?
(1942), The Canterville Ghost
(1944), and The Bells of St.
He played master detective Ellery Queen in three 1942 Columbia
programmers. The series could have outlasted the war but the
fact that he had no contractual obligation to a studio prevented him to continue
the role. The series was so quickly shelved Gargan and Lindsay had to go on in
an unrelated movie No Place for a Lady
Above left: Irene Hervey with Gargan in the Universal's mystery Bombay
Above right: William Gargan with Margaret Lindsay in A Desperate Chance
for Ellery Queen (1942)
Christmas time 1943, Gargan went on a USO tour together with fellow
film performers Claudette Colbert and Keenan Wynn. He spent several months
visiting bases in China. Gargan mainly participated in sketches. He was also
appreciated for his informal talks with the GI's and Gargan found the experience
(which lasted past the first quarter of 1944) to be one of the most rewarding of
his entire career. If William Gargan brought an air of authenticity to his roles
as a private detective it's because of his youth (father)
Gargan learned a lot about the gambling world and met a lot of interesting
characters from across the spectrum of society. The
main reason why Gargan was so convincing as a detective was that he was probably
the only actor of his time who had actually been a private detective.
Before heading into TV he had several roles on radio.
Indeed he was guest in panels on several radio shows, it wasn't long before he
took up the detective parts. As the TV-age became into being it largely took
over the existing radio formats of storytelling, quiet an industry at the time.
Hence the fact that many stars from radio made the crossover. He portrayed
detective Ross Dolan, a veteran detective who returned to his sleuthing job
after being a sailor in WW II. Or as Dolan puts it, "a hitch in Uncle Sugar's
Navy" on ABC Radio's I Deal in
Above left: Follow That Woman (1945) was basically
another "Thin Man" derivation, in a wartime setting. The story isn't always up
to standard, but William Gargan and Nancy Kelly work quite well together.
Above right: "Two women's
lives depend on what this man says!" scene from
Night Editor (1946)
starring William Gargan, Janis Carter, Jeff Donnell
Above left: In Waterfront At Midnight
(1949) Gargan (left) portraits a policeman who tries to capture a criminal but
ends up charged with murdering his own brother.
Above right: Dynamite
(1949) contractor William Gargan has his eyes on pretty Virginia Welles, Johnny
Brown (Richard Crane) comes along to defy Gargan both at work and in love. In
the end disaster comes to the rescue...