Don DeFore

Don DeFore

Judy Garland was Matron of Honor at his wedding to Marion Holmes DeFore.

According to the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Tribune of December 25, 1936, he appeared uncredited in the film Reunion (1936).

Appeared on the cover of the 6 October 1962 issue of "TV Guide" with Shirley Booth, his costar on the TV series "Hazel" (1961).

Attended Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Briefly attended the University of Iowa with intentions of becoming a lawyer. "Less than one year there, I knew I'd made the wrong choice," he later said.

Created the role of Wally Myers in the Broadway play "The Male Animal", which opened at the Cort Theatre on January 9, 1940 and ran for 243 performances. He later played the same role in the film version The Male Animal (1942) starring Olivia de Havilland and Henry Fonda. He also appeared in the remake of that film, She's Working Her Way Through College (1952) starring Virginia Mayo and Ronald Reagan.

Grandfather of Sean Welch.

Had five children with Marion Holmes DeFore: Penny DeFore, David DeFore, Dawn DeFore, Ronnie DeFore, and Amy N. DeFore.

Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6804 Hollywood Blvd.

He once generously helped the beloved Walt Disney out of a jam. During the annual Disneyland Christmas parade, Disney's grandchildren were supposed to ride with him in a horse drawn carriage. Parade time was approaching and the grandchildren had not yet shown up, so he called Don DeFore in a panic and asked if he could borrow two of his children, because he couldn't ride in the parade without kids in his carriage. So Don generously offered up two of his children, Dawn DeFore and Ronnie DeFore to ride in the carriage with Disney in the parade and they dutifully waved to the crowd. This is one of Dawn and Ronnie's fondest childhood memories, and they treasure the pictures of the occasion.

He was the only individual allowed to open a restaurant at Disneyland. He operated the Silver Banjo in Frontierland from 1957 to 1961. His brother Verne DeFore helped him, and they used a gift that their father, a railroad engineer, had brought home from Louisiana - a beautiful silver banjo - as the tiny restaurant's inspiration.

His father was Joseph Ervin DeFore (1878 - 1942), a railroad engineer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His mother was Albina Sylvia Nezerka (1883 - 1975), aka Mrs. Joseph E. DeFore.

In 1949, Photoplay Magazine sent DeFore, actor Lon McCallister and a then-unknown Marilyn Monroe on a train trip to Warrensburg, New York to present Photoplay's "Dream Home" contest winner with the key to her new home. Surviving photos dated June 1, 1949 show Don DeFore playing cards with Marilyn on the train trip, and also in front of the home during the event. When Photoplay recruited the group for this, Marilyn Monroe had been in New York to promote her new film Love Happy (1949). It is believed that Don DeFore was in New York to shoot My Friend Irma (1949), the film debut of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

In 1961, he starred in a unsold pilot for CBS called "Daddy O" where he played a handyman who, after being discovered by a producer, suddenly must cope with the new-found fame that comes with TV stardom.

Served as president of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences from 1954-1955 and was instrumental in arranging for the Emmy Awards to be broadcast on national TV for the first time on March 7, 1955.

Was the first honorary mayor of Brentwood, the neighborhood in Los Angeles where he built a home in 1948.

Went to Des Moines, Iowa in June 1976 to campaign for his longtime friend Ronald Reagan at the Republican State Convention in his bid for President of the United States. DeFore appeared in at least two films with Reagan, Brother Rat (1938) and She's Working Her Way Through College (1952).

Won a scholarship and studied for three years at the famed Pasadena Playhouse. Oscar Hammerstein II saw him in a student produced show "Where Do We Go From Here?" in 1938 and brought it to Broadway, where it had a brief run.