11 February, 2009
James Patrick O'Malley was an English singer and character actor, who appeared in many American films and television programs during the 1940s–1970s, using the stage name J. Pat O'Malley. He also appeared on the Broadway stage in Ten Little Indians (1944) and Dial M for Murder. A New York Times drama critic praised O'Malley's performance in Ten Little Indians, calling him "a rara avis, a comedian who does not gauge the success of his efforts by the number of laughs he induces at each performance".
O'Malley began his entertainment career in 1925 as a recording artist and then as principal singer with Jack Hylton and his Orchestra in the United Kingdom from 1930 to 1933. Known at that time as Pat O'Malley, he recorded over 400 popular songs of the day. O'Malley began a solo recording career in 1935 in parallel with his work with Hylton. At the end of 1935, Hylton and O'Malley went to the U.S. to record with a band composed of American musicians, thus emulating Ray Noble and Al Bowlly. The venture was short-lived but O'Malley remained in the United States.
Now known as J. Pat O'Malley, he had a long and varied acting career including the film Lassie Come Home in 1943 as "Hynes" and later in Walt Disney's Spin and Marty hit television serials as the always-faithful "Perkins" (1955–1957). In 1959–1960, O'Malley starred eight times as Judge Caleb Marsh in the ABC western series Black Saddle starring Peter Breck as a gunslinger-turned-lawyer, with Russell Johnson as a peace officer. In 1960, O'Malley guest starred on the short-lived The Tab Hunter Show sitcom on NBC and on ABC's The Law and Mr. Jones legal drama with James Whitmore and Conlan Carter.
In 1961, he guest starred in ABC's drama Bus Stop, starring Marilyn Maxwell as the owner of a diner in a fictitious small Colorado town. O'Malley appeared in 1962 on CBS's Twilight Zone episode called "The Fugitive". In the 1962–1963 season, he guest starred twice on both Gene Kelly's ABC's Going My Way, about a Roman Catholic priest in New York City, and on the CBS anthology The Lloyd Bridges Show. O'Malley and Spring Byington starred in an episode of Jack Palance's ABC circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth, which aired in the 1963—1964 season.
In the 1964–1965 season, O'Malley appeared as a handyman on the ABC's sitcom Wendy and Me with costars George Burns, Connie Stevens, Ron Harper, and James T. Callahan. He guest starred in 1965 in Christopher Jones's ABC western, The Legend of Jesse James, and in 1966 in Jack Sheldon's CBS's short-lived unconventional sitcom Run, Buddy, Run. O'Malley also appeared occasionally as "Vince" in the 1966 ABC comedy/western series The Rounders, with Ron Hayes, Patrick Wayne, and Chill Wills.
In 1969, O'Malley portrayed Carol Brady's (Florence Henderson) father in the premiere episode of ABC's The Brady Bunch. He made several appearances in the television series Maude, as Hermione Baddeley's beau, from 1973-1975. He appeared in a cameo on NBC's Emergency! in its third season.
Walt Disney also engaged O'Malley to provide voices for animated films such as the Cockney coster in the "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" sequence in Mary Poppins 1964 and the role of Colonel Hathi and the vulture Buzzie in The Jungle Book in 1967. His voice can also be heard in Alice in Wonderland (1951), in which he performs all character voices in the "Walrus and Carpenter" segment, and the role of the Colonel and Jasper in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) and in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in several roles including the original voice of the Pirate Captain dunking the magistrate into the well.
In 1982, O'Malley made his final television appearance on Taxi.
O'Malley died from cardiovascular disease in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, California, shortly before what would have been his 81st birthday.