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William Demarest Overview:

Character actor, William Demarest, was born Carl William Demarest on Feb 27, 1892 in St. Paul, MN. Demarest appeared in over 165 film and TV roles. His best known films include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Sullivan's Travels, The Lady Eve, Easy Living, That Darn Cat -- and of course Uncle Charley on TV's My Three Sons (1965-1972). Demarest died at the age of 91 on Dec 28, 1983 in Palm Springs, CA and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn (Glendale) Cemetery in Glendale, CA.

MINI BIO:

Craggy and grizzled, William Demarest was a veteran actor of well over 100 films who became, from the 1930's to the 1960's, one of Hollywood's best-known and best-loved familiar faces. He began in vaudeville as a song-and-dance act with his brother Rubin (1886-1962), but moved into films right at the beginning of sound and, after a hiatus from 1929 to 1933, established himself with dozens of Brooklynese character studies. Although often a soft-hearted and slightly dense policeman, he also excelled at brooding suspicion and tight-lipped sarcasm. Oscar nomination for "The Jolson Story".  

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Illustrated Dictionary of Film Character Actors).

HONORS and AWARDS:

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Although Demarest was nominated for one Oscar, he never won a competitive Academy Award.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1946Best Supporting ActorThe Jolson Story (1946)Steve MartinNominated
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He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures.

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William Demarest Quotes:

Sgt. Heppelfinger: [after Woodrow reveals his discharge and leaves the auditorium] I just wanna tell you one thing, see. I've seen a lot of brave men in my life - that's my business. But what that kid just done took real courage.


Constable Kockenlocker: Daughters. Phooey.


Murray Sinclair: What's the matter with you, Bill?
Bill Dansing: I don't like your friends, Murray... Rebstock... Du Sang. I know that Whitey. He's as cruel as a soft-nosed bullet. He'd shoot a dyin' man just to see him sqirm.


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Best Supporting Actor Oscar 1946






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William Demarest on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame



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William Demarest Facts
Played a character with the name Steve Martin in two movies The Jolson Story (1946) and Jolson Sings Again (1949).

Began his career in vaudeville.

Interestingly, Mr. Demarest appeared in "The Jazz Singer" (albeit uncredited) starring Al Jolson and also appeared in the "The Jolson Story" (and later "Jolson Sings Again") which recounts (among other things) the making of "The The Jazz Singer." He appears to be the only performer to have appeared in both movies.

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