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Don DeFore

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Cause of death  cardiac arrest
Name  Don DeFore
Years active  1936–1987

Alma mater  University of Iowa
Education  Washington High School
Role  Film actor
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Full Name  Donald John DeFore
Born  August 25, 1913 (age 80) (1913-08-25) Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S.
Resting place  Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Spouse  Marion Holmes DeFore (m. 1942–1993)
Buried  Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, United States
Children  Dawn DeFore, David DeFore, Ronnie DeFore, Amy N. DeFore, Penny DeFore
Movies and TV shows  Hazel, Too Late for Tears, It Happened on Fifth A, The Adventures of Ozzie a, Romance on the High Seas
Similar People  Whitney Blake, Bobby Buntrock, Shirley Booth, Gale Storm, Charlie Ruggles
Died  December 22, 1993 (aged 80) Santa Monica, California, U.S.

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Donald John DeFore (August 25, 1913 – December 22, 1993) was an American film, radio, and television actor. DeFore is best known as Erskin "Thorny" Thornberry, the Nelson family's neighbor on the long running sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and as George "Mr. B." Baxter on the 1960s sitcom Hazel.


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Early life

Don DeFore Don DeFore Wikipedia

DeFore was one of seven children born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Joseph Ervin, a railroad engineer who worked at the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company and was also a local politician, and Albina Sylvia DeFore (née Nezerka). DeFore's mother, who occasionally directed plays at their local church, was of Czechoslovakian descent. After graduating from Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, DeFore attended the University of Iowa. He initially studied law while also playing basketball, track, and baseball before becoming interested in acting. Since acting was not a major study at the university, he left and enrolled at the Pasadena Community Playhouse, where he won a scholarship and stayed for three years.

Don DeFore Don DeFore Biography and Filmography 1913

During this time he and four fellow students wrote a play called Where Do We Go From Here. It was presented in a little theater in Hollywood with DeFore in the cast. As a young man, DeFore toured the country in stock companies for several years before making his Broadway debut in 1938, when Oscar Hammerstein II offered to take it to Broadway and DeFore and five of the original cast members went along. The show ran for four weeks, and DeFore was soon recognized as a member of legitimate theater. He remained in New York and won a key role in The Male Animal, which ran for almost a year on Broadway and eight months on the road.


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In Hollywood, DeFore's first screen appearance was in a bit part in 1936's Reunion. By the early 1940s and billed as Don DeForest, he was last cast in speaking roles in multiple film appearances including: Right to the Heart (1942), The Male Animal (1942), The Human Comedy (uncredited, 1943), A Guy Named Joe (1943), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), The Affairs of Susan (1945), You Came Along (1945), Without Reservations (1946), It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947), Ramrod (1947), Romance on the High Seas (1948), My Friend Irma (1949), Too Late for Tears (1949), Dark City (1950), Southside 1-1000 (1950), She's Working Her Way Through College (1952), The Guy Who Came Back (1951), A Girl in Every Port (1952), Jumping Jacks (1952), Battle Hymn (1957), A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), and The Facts of Life (1960).

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In 1946, exhibitors voted him the fourth-most promising "star of tomorrow". DeFore also worked in radio. He appeared on such radio programs as Suspense, Old Gold Comedy Theater, and Lux Radio Theater.

DeFore is best known for his work in television. Beginning in 1952, DeFore had a recurring role as the Nelsons' friendly neighbor, "Thorny", on the ABC sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. In 1955, DeFore was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor in a Regular Series Primetime Emmy Award for his work on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. In time though, the role of Thorny was superseded by Lyle Talbot as Joe Randolph, and Mary Jane Croft as his wife, Clara.

Don DeFore Daveland Silver Banjo Photo Page

From 1954 to 1955, he served as president of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He was instrumental in arranging for the Emmy Awards to be broadcast on national television for the first time on March 7, 1955. He also served on the board of the Screen Actors Guild.

From 1961 to 1965, DeFore was a co-star of the television series Hazel as "Mr. B." (George Baxter), employer of the spirited, domineering housekeeper Hazel Burke, played by Shirley Booth and based on the cartoon character appearing in The Saturday Evening Post. DeFore was not the original actor to portray George Baxter. In the pilot episode, the role was played by character actor Edward Andrews. DeFore took over the role when the series was green-lighted. The series ran on prime time until 1966 when it was canceled by NBC. DeFore and his co-star Whitney Blake were written out of the series when CBS picked up the series for its final season.


In 1965, DeFore and his daughter Penny wrote With All My Love, a book detailing Penny's experiences working in a Korean orphanage. DeFore later released his memoirs, Hollywood DeFore and After.

Marriage and children

DeFore married singer Marion Holmes (January 21, 1918 - November 17, 2011) on February 14, 1942. Judy Garland served as Holmes' matron of honor. Holmes performed with the Henry Busse Orchestra from 1935 to 1939, and later with Art Kassel and his "Castles in the Air" from 1939 until their marriage. They had five children: Penny, David, Dawn, Ron, and Autumn. They remained married until DeFore's death in 1993.

Politics and other activities

DeFore and his family were longtime residents of the Mandeville Canyon section of Brentwood and attended the Village Church of Westwood Lutheran. DeFore served as Brentwood's honorary Mayor and also served as a member of the advisory committee for the California Department of Rehabilitation. DeFore was also a 33rd degree Freemason

From 1957 to 1962, DeFore and his family operated the Silver Banjo Barbecue, a restaurant located in Frontierland of Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. In July 1969, DeFore served as the American delegate at the Moscow International Film Festival.

A long time Republican, DeFore was a delegate at the 1980 Republican National Convention. His friend, former actor and 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan, appointed him to the Presidential Advisory Council to the Peace Corps.


On December 22, 1993, DeFore died of cardiac arrest at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. He is interred at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

For his contribution to the television industry, Don DeFore has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6804 Hollywood Blvd.


Don DeFore Wikipedia