According to a statement in a 1944 movie magazine, Donlevy did not smoke or play cards. The only smoking he did was "for the movies".
Although he is typically credited as having been with the Lafayette Escadrille, he was not. However he was a member of a group of young American men who went to France and received flight training there in WWI. As such, he was an honorary member of The Lafayette Flying Corps (also known as the Franco-American Flying Corps). The Corps was never officially a unit, it is a collective name for all American pilots -- including the Lafayette Escadrille pilots -- who flew for the French during World War I. The exact number of actual pilots who flew for the French is open to question and many different numbers exist depending on who is counting. The numbers range from as low as 180 to over 300. The most widely accepted number of men who were recognized as having successfully completed French flight training (received their "brevets") is 209. Of this 209, only 180 actually served at the Front in combat divided among 66 French pursuit escadrilles and 27 bomber/observer escadrilles.
Besides television, he also portrayed government spy Steve Mitchell on NBC Radio's "Dangerous Assignment" (1949-1953).
Father of Judy Donlevy.
He is the only actor to play Professor Bernard Quatermass on screen more than once, which he did in the Hammer science fiction film The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and its sequel Quatermass II: Enemy from Space (1957). In spite of this, he was reportedly "Quatermass" creator Nigel Kneale's least favourite actor in the role.
He was William Holden's best man at his 1941 wedding to 'Brenda Marshall (I)'.
His character, Gil Warren, in In Old Chicago (1937) died as a result of the Chicago fire. His character, Steely Edwards, in 'The Great Man's Lady (1942) died in the San Francisco fire.
It's widely believed that Ray Milland accidentally cut Donlevy's shoulder during the filming of Beau Geste (1939) when he missed Donlevy's protective padding with his bayonet. This legend was recently repeated on American Movie Classics (AMC) during an airing of the film. In actuality, Ray stabbed him in the lower left ribcage. The wound was deep enough to not only make him bleed but resulted in a scar that Donlevy bore for the rest of his life.
On January 11, 1950, he crashed the plane he was flying into a hillside near Solvang, CA, but miraculously walked away unhurt.
Played historical figure William Quantrill, the leader of a Confederate guerrilla band during the US Civil War, in two films: Kansas Raiders (1950) and Woman They Almost Lynched (1953). The second was not a sequel to the first.
Sassy-talking, rugged-looking, square-shouldered supporting actor said, however, always to have gone through this necessary morning ritual before arriving on the movie set: 1) insert dentures; 2) don hairpiece; 3) strap on corset; 4) lace up "elevator" shoes.
Step-father of Bela Lugosi Jr..
The two overriding interests in his life were gold mining and writing poetry.
When he was working on I Wanted Wings (1941) with Ray Milland they filmed on an actual military base and he played Capt. Mercer. He got so uncomfortable with soldiers thinking he was a real captain and saluting him that he wore a sign around his neck that said, "Actor".