Catholics in the Movies: Frank McGlynn, Sr. (1866-1951)

Catholics in the Movies: Frank McGlynn, Sr. (1866-1951) May 29, 2014


McGlynn with Shirley Temple in “The Littlest Rebel” (1935).

A well-established character actor in the Silent Era and in Hollywood’s Golden Age, Frank McGlynn made some 138 films between 1911 and 1947, playing alongside the likes of Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, and a young John Wayne.  He holds the record for playing Abraham Lincoln no less than ten times onscreen, in films such as Shirley Temple’s The Littlest Rebel (1935), John Ford’s The Prisoner of Shark Island (1937), and the first Lone Ranger movie in 1938. Born to Irish-American parents in San Francisco, McGlynn grew up in California. (He was the nephew of Father Edward McGlynn, the famed nineteenth century Catholic social activist. Indeed, one of Frank’s own sons would go into the priesthood.) Although he studied and briefly practiced  law, McGlynn’s heart was in acting, and by the mid-1890’s, he was appearing regularly on stage. He found his niche in supporting roles, both on stage and on screen during Hollywood’s early years. At 53, McGlynn got his big break when he played Abraham Lincoln on stage in John Drinkwater’s play of the same name.  He first played the president onscreen in 1924. McGlynn worked up into his eighties. On May 18, 1951, he died in Newburgh, New York, at the home of his daughter. He left behind a familiar face and voice in some of Hollywood’s greatest films. 

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