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Dennis O'Keefe (29 March 1908 – 31 August 1968) was an American actor. Born as Edward Vance Flanagan he was the son of Irish vaudevillians working in the United States. As a small child he joined his parents' act and later wrote skits for the stage.
O'Keefe started in films as an extra in the early 1930s and appeared in numerous films under the name Bud Flanagan. After a small but impressive role in Saratoga (1937), Clark Gable recommended O'Keefe to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which signed him to a contract in 1937 and re-named him Dennis O'Keefe. His film roles were bigger after that, starting with The Bad Man of Brimstone (1938), and the lead role in Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1939).
O'Keefe left MGM around 1940 but continued to work in mostly lower budget productions. He often played the tough guy in action and crime dramas but was also known as a comic actor as well as a dramatic lead. In the 1950s he did some directing and wrote mystery stories. In the middle 1950s, he appeared on NBC's legal drama Justice and on the network's The Martha Raye Show. On October 3, 1957, he was a guest star on another NBC variety show, The Ford Show, starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. From 1959-1960, he was the star of the CBS situation comedy, The Dennis O'Keefe Show.
A heavy cigarette smoker, O'Keefe died of lung cancer at the age of sixty. Ironically in his 1954 film "The Diamond Wizard", which he stars and directed, he plays a U.S. Treasury Agent in London who, during the course of the film, is trying to quit smoking and throughout the film is prevented from lighting up by different characters in the film, however, after the rousing finale, as a reward for his heroism he is finally allowed to light up. He takes a deep puff and joyously exhales.
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