in The Trouble with Harry (1955)
Royal Edward Dano
November 16, 1922
New York City, U.S.
|Died||May 15, 1994 (aged 71)|
Los Angeles, U.S.
|Resting place||Los Angeles National Cemetery|
Royal Edward Dano Sr. (November 16, 1922 - May 15, 1994) was an American film and television character actor.
Dano was born in New York City, the son of Mary Josephine (née O'Connor), an Irish immigrant, and Caleb Edward Dano, a printer for newspapers.
He reportedly left home at the age of twelve and at various intervals lived in Florida, Texas, and California. After reaching an agreement with his father, he agreed to continue his education on the condition that he be allowed to travel. Dano served in the United States Army during World War II where he attained the rank of Sergeant. He was a Freemason.
An early acting effort saw Dano cast as McSnoyd the leprechaun in the stage show Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley, based of the comic strip by Crockett Johnson. McSnoyd appears to the audience only as a blinking light on a large mushroom, so only his voice is heard. However, at the conclusion of the show Dano joined the rest of the cast, wearing a leprechaun costume.
Dano is remembered for his supporting roles in a number of 1950s western and mystery films. The chance for the breakout role of a lifetime escaped him in the theatrical release of The Red Badge of Courage. Dano, cast as The Tattered Man, delivered such a disturbing performance in his death scene, according to director John Huston, that the initial test audience left the theater in droves, e.g., "I've never seen so many people get up and leave the theater...they liked no part of it." The death scene was lent a human touch by Dano, and in 1951, war-weary Americans rejected it (Huston: "...[the audience rejection] was a pretty sickening event."). Red Badge was immediately recut, and the death scene was removed. It is long believed, and as early as Huston commenting in an interview in 1972, the scene has been lost ("I doubt very much, whether the scene still exists."). Dano was also cast in "Mr. Lincoln", a five-part TV episode appearing in 1952-53 on Omnibus; in keeping with a Civil War theme, Dano portrayed Lincoln himself.
He often worked with Anthony Mann and James Stewart. He played Elijah in John Huston's film version of Moby Dick, intoning to Richard Basehart as Ishmael, "At sea one day, you'll smell land where there'll be no land, and on that day, Ahab will go to his grave, but he'll rise again within the hour. He will rise and beckon! Then all - all save one - shall follow!"
In The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), he portrayed a brutal henchman. In the black comedy The Trouble with Harry, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, he had a small but pivotal role as the officious Deputy Sheriff. Over the years, Dano made many television appearances, often in bizarre, macabre roles such as Richard Boone's Have Gun - Will Travel and the NBC legal drama Justice starring Dane Clark and Gary Merrill.
On December 2, 1957, Dano appeared as Wilbur English, a fearful man who kills a fellow gang member to collect the reward in the episode "Cheyenne Express" of John Payne's NBC western series, The Restless Gun. Ultimately, his cowardice causes Wilbur's own accidental death. Earlier that year, he had played "Sageman", a wizened mystic, in the 1957 Father Knows Best episode "Shoot for the Moon". In the MGM Technicolor widescreen religious epic King of Kings, Dano in 1961 played the role of Simon Peter.
In 1960, Dano guest starred on David McLean's NBC summer western series, Tate. That same year, he portrayed Lucas Frome in the episode "Black Harvest" on Don Durant's CBS western, Johnny Ringo. In 1962, he guest starred on the CBS anthology series, The Lloyd Bridges Show. Dano also appeared on The Virginian in five separate appearances from 1962-66 in a variety of character roles, one of the most memorable being "Faraway MacPhail". In 1962 Dano appeared as escaped convict Dan Molder on The Virginian in the episode titled "The Brazen Bell." In the 1965-1966 season, he guest starred on ABC's western series The Legend of Jesse James. He played an ex-con who became Northfork's pastor, and "Honest Abe" in 1961 episodes of The Rifleman, an ABC Western series. He appeared on the series five times. Dano was also a frequent guest star on Gunsmoke, with a total of thirteen appearances. In season 1 (1955-56) of "Gunsmoke," he acted in the title role of "Obie Tater" (No. 5 in the series) about a group of outlaws who try to force Obie, an old prospector, to give up his gold. (Newcomb, Horace (2010). "Gunsmoke." The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved March 21, 2010.) In 1962, he played Monty Fox, a prospector, in the episode "Incident at Quivira" on CBS's Rawhide.
Dano was the voice of Abraham Lincoln for Walt Disney's Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction, first presented at the 1964 World's Fair. Disney personally selected Dano, because he felt the actor came closest to the historical descriptions of Lincoln's voice. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was moved to Disneyland in 1965, and Dano's vocals continued to be a part of the attraction until 2001. In 1971, his voice was also used for a revised Lincoln speech in the new "Hall Of Presidents" attraction at Magic Kingdom in Florida, which ran to 1993. In 2009, Dano's vocals were returned to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland in an updated version of the show.
Dano was cast as the historical Henderson Luelling in the 1965 episode, "The Traveling Trees," on the syndicated anthology series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Ronald Reagan. In the story line, Luelling, against the advice of his wagon master, takes the Hastings Cutoff en route to Oregon, where he intends to plant an apple orchard. Tim McIntire appeared as a young reformed outlaw, Ben Fraser, with Robert Yuro as Ben's older brother, Spencer Fraser. Dano also appeared in four other Death Valley Days episodes, including another 1965 segment, "The Trouble with Taxes," in the role of Aaron Winters, founder of the Death Valley borax strike.
Dano played a coroner in Electra Glide in Blue (1973), who gets into a loud shouting match with Robert Blake's character. With no spoken dialogue (but singing the airman's version of the Navy Hymn), Dano was the saddened, unnamed preacher in The Right Stuff. Dano was the father of the Daltons in the 1979 TV movie The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang. He is remembered for his comedic performance as the undead gold prospector, Gramps, in the horror/suspense/comedy/Aztec adventure House II: The Second Story, and as Uncle Ned, a carnival attraction magician, in 1988's Ghoulies II. His final roles include Wrenchmuller in 1990's Spaced Invaders and Judge Clinton Sternwood in the TV series Twin Peaks.
Dano died at home of pulmonary fibrosis in 1994 at age 71. He is buried in the Los Angeles National Cemetery. A son, Royal Edward Dano Jr., also died in 1994. Dano is the father of Rick Dano and the grandfather of actor Hutch Dano.