Reagan may have played Gipp, but so many upcoming stars in supporting roles

So how does the Capster spend his declining years?  One of my favorite things is watching old movies. I never do it without sitting at my desk top, ready to explore two great sites.  IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) and Wikipedia.

I love to see the character actors in the old movies.  The folks you recognize, but whose names you can’t recall or never knew.  Sometimes even young actors in minor roles before they made it big.

First, I go to IMDB to get the names of ALL the actors, including those who are uncredited, with no speaking lines. Then, I go to Wikipedia to see what I can learn about their lives, on and off screen.

I’ve watched the 1940 movie, “Knute Rockne, All American,” more than a few times. Two of the producers of the movie were Hollywood giants Jack Warner and Hal Wallis.

We all know that Pat O’Brien played Knute and Ronald Reagan played Gipp, but what about the other roles?  Lots of actors to like.

My favorite TV superhero was “Superman,” played by George Reeves.  Reeves was an uncredited distraught ND player in this movie.

My favorite old TV show was “Perry Mason.”  Paul Drake was Perry’s great private detective.  Played by William Hopper, who was an uncredited New York reporter in the movie.  If I may digress, William Hopper also has a connection to my favorite sport of baseball.  His father was DeWolf Hopper, who first performed “Casey at the Bat,” in 1888, and did it more than 10,000 times after that.  His mother was famed Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.

Brian Keith

Brian Keith had a long and distinguished acting career, perhaps best known as the father on the TV series, “Family Affair.”  He played an uncredited student at the train station.  Back in Rockne’s days, the students would meet the team at the South Bend train station.

An uncredited young boy football player was played by Dickie Jones, who later went on to a long TV and movie career, mostly in Westerns.  He was Jock Mahoney’s sidekick in the TV series, “The Range Rider.”

Johnny Sheffield

The young Knute Rockne was played by Johnny Sheffield, who went on to play Boy, son of Tarzan and also Bomba, in a bunch of vine-swinging movies.

The Four Horsemen were played by Nick Lukats, Kane Richmond, William Marshall, and William Byrne.  Lukats actually played Gipp’s left halfback position at Notre Dame 13 years after Gipp’s death.  The very handsome Richmond played a lot of leading roles in serials, with his most famous being The Shadow.  Who knew that?  The Shadow, of course.  The equally handsome Marshall had a few acting credits, but his resume topper would be his marriage (one of four) to Ginger Rogers (her fifth).  Whoever Byrne was is anyone’s guess.

 BTW, I did some protective work for Ms. Rogers, at Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural.  And, her second husband was famed actor Lew Ayres.  Ayres starred in the 1931 movie “The Spirit of Notre Dame.”  But I digress.

Pete Mehringer was an uncredited football player.  He wasn’t uncredited in another sport.  He won an Olympic gold medal in 1932 in freestyle wrestling.  He also starred in football for the University of Kansas.

Dudley Dickerson

Dudley Dickerson played an uncredited train porter.  He was a very prominent comedic Black actor.

Legendary Jim Thorpe was an uncredited half-time game official.

Maris Wrixon played an uncredited telephone operator.  Her mini bio contains words I cannot properly summarize or improve upon:  “This shapely starlet had a minor career at Warner Brothers during the 1930s and 40s. She possessed all the physical endowments that had propelled other screen sirens of the period to stardom. Hollywood’s premier glamour photographer, George Hurrell Sr., thought her alluring. Her face adorned covers of Vogue and the rotogravure section of numerous women’s magazines.”

Maris Wrixon

These are but a few of the folks who appeared in this wonderful movie.  Next time you’re watching old movies, make sure you have your computer up and running and that you are running to check out IMDB and Wikipedia.