J. Carrol Naish (J. Carrol Naish)

J. Carrol Naish

Actor. One of Hollywood’s most versatile character players. A distant descendant of a noted Irish family, Joseph Patrick Carrol Naish was born in New York City. He dropped out of school at 16 to join the Navy, saw action with the US Army Signal Corps during World War I, and then traveled the world in the merchant marine. During this time he acquired a working knowledge of eight languages and many dialects. According to legend Naish made his acting debut in 1925 with Molly Picon’s Yiddish Theatre; he was so convincingly Jewish that a local rabbi appeared backstage and chastised him for not attending synagogue. This was followed by a part in the national touring company of “The Shanghai Gesture” (1926). He entered films with the arrival of talkies and for the next 40 years made a specialty of ethnic roles. Naish played characters of nearly every nationality, from Italian to Chinese, but because of his dark complexion was almost never cast as an Irishman. (A rare exception was the 1950 film “Rio Grande”, in which he portrayed General Philip Sheridan). He received two Oscar nominations as Best Supporting Actor, for “Sahara” (1943) and “A Medal for Benny” (1945). His other films include “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer” (1935), “Captain Blood” (1935), “Anthony Adverse” (1936), “Beau Geste” (1939), “Blood and Sand” (1941), “House of Frankenstein” (1944), “The Southerner” (1945), “Joan of Arc” (1948), “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef” (1953), “Sitting Bull” (title role, 1954), and “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” (1970). He also starred in the radio and television sitcom “Life With Luigi” (1948 to 1953) and the TV series “The New Adventures of Charlie Chan” (1956 to 1957). Ill health forced him to retire in 1970.

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Born

  • January, 21, 1896
  • USA
  • New York

Died

  • January, 24, 1973

Cemetery

  • Calvary Cemetery
  • California
  • USA

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