|ames Burke (Sep 24,1886 - May 23,1968)|
Brothers: Raymond, Thomas, and Adrian
(New York Judge)
(1) Elizabeth Catherine Bowen (aka Billie Bowen,
actress) (Jun 20, 1917 New York - Apr 7,1920,
(2) Eleanor Durkin (1921 - Sep 23, 1957, her
death). Daughter (according to 1930 census
adopted): Mary Lee aka Marylee (born
1929 in Michigan) Now Mrs. Kofahl of
|Above right: James Michael Burke in 1920.|
In World War I, Burke held the rank of top Sergeant (American
with the 12th New York Regiment aka "The Dirty Dozen"
(company I, 52nd infantry). Jim served 18 months
(1917-18) in France, fought at Saint-Mihiel and in the Argonne
was badly gassed and wounded by shrapnel. Fearing that he mightn't live
"Jimmy" was picked up and carried away to hospital. He spent 10 months in a French Hospital
and later Staten Island. By the end of 1919 he emerged limping and
wabbling a bit, but ready to throw off his old khaki and get back behind
the footlights. In the early months of 1920 Burke was back touring the
Central West and South whilst performing in vaudeville.
He made his film debut in 1932 after much stage experience. He was immediately typecast as tough cops with Irish brogues and names like Muldoon, Mulligan, Kelly, Maloney or Burke (!). When not playing the obtuse flatfoot or bemused, sympathetic plod, he would show up in costume films in small roles as soldiers or guards. For years he was one of Hollywood's go-to guys for roles as urban street cops, which he delivered with a bemused lip and colorful brogue.
In Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934) he (again uncredited) played a detective opposite Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. One of his best roles was as Charles Ruggles' rowdy rancher pal in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935).
In October 1935 Eleanor was recuperating at the
Pasadena Hospital after a major operation only to return home by
November just when Burke signed for Song and Dance Girl, in
which he appeared with Ruth Donnelly.
Above left: James Burke with Eddie "Rochester" Anderson in an unknown scene (Probably from 1945's I Love a Bandleader).
Above right: James Burke in a 1947 publicity shot for United Artists.
Above left: James Burke.
Above right: Jim Burke as "Zeke Bonner" in Stagecoach West (1961).
His last performance was playing Col. Hunter, a minor role, in Old Shatterhand (1964)
Burke worked in television, until his retirement at 80.
Burke suffered from a heart condition, which took his life at the age of
eighty-two. He died on May 23, 1968 in the Sepulveda Veterans Hospital, Los
This actor profile is a part of
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Page first published on Jan 1. 2016
Latest update Jun 26. 2021