Gleason, James

(1886-1959)
   Born in a showbiz boardinghouse in New York City, Gleason grew up performing in his parents's stock company, with his first significant role coming when he was five. After years of touring, he served in the U.S. Army. He made his New York debut as a blackface waiter in Pretty Mrs. Smith (1912). With the success of his play Is Zat So? (1925), in which he wrote the role of boxing manager Hap Hurley for himself, Gleason initiated a long succession of tough-fight manager characters first on stage and then in motion pictures. Other plays by Gleason include The Fall Guy (1924), The Shannons of Broadway (1927, with his wife, Lucille Webster), Rain or Shine (1928), and Puffy (1928).

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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