Dan Duryea Before Hollywood


In-depth facts about Dan Duryea's pre-Hollywood days can prove rather elusive. I'm always on the lookout for stories, trivia or photos from this time, so don't be afraid to check back for updates and additions to this page.

I was absolutely thrilled to find an obscure webpage filled with pictures of Dan's older brother, Hewlett, and his family. Included there are two pictures showing Dan as a young boy. This is the first time that I've been able to find a photo showing Dan as a little boy! So far, I've been unable to contact the owner of the page for permission to post the photo here, so to see the page of photos, just click here.

Thanks to Richard M. (a distant cousin of Dan D.), I have scan of a xerox showing Dan and Hewlett Duryea in what appear to be their highschool years. The paper was undated, but the boys are definitely pretty young in these nice pictures. Click to enlarge.


Here is the yearbook photograph of the class of 1924 from White Plains High School. Dan D. is seated in the front row (fourth from the right) at the age of seventeen. Click to enlarge.

Dan Duryea in the White Plains High School Class of 1924 (fourth from right). Click to see fullsize.

Dan Duryea's College Yearbook photo. Click to enlarge.Dan Duryea went on to Cornell University upon his graduation from White Plains. The picture at left comes from his entry in the yearbook for his Senior year (Class of 1928). A lot of newspaper clippings and short biographies state that he graduated with a degree in English, but his entry in the yearbook reads "Arts and Sciences". Dan would be twenty-one years old in this picture! After graduating, he went into the advertising business (following the advice of his parents), but the stress was too much for him and he had a major heart-attack in 1932. He spent months in bed, and the doctors did not even think that he would survive. Finally, they told him that he was past the "touch and go" point, but that he would have to choose an easier career without stress. Dan Duryea the Actor went to work!


The pair of photographs above are unidentified. Dan appears to be around college age, but it could also be shortly after. I've never read anything that stated whether he played an instrument or not, so I haven't got a clue as to the significance of the quartet.

Westchester Theatre (Mamaroneck & Larchmont)


Dan Duryea Publicity Photo for 1937-8 Season at Westchester Theatre. Click to enlarge.This is a fabulous publicity photo used by the "Westchester Theatre" in Mamaroneck and Larchmont, New York, for the 1937-8 season. Click on photo to see at full size.

This is the earliest publicity photo that I've been able to locate for Dan's theater career. Dan is just thirty years old in this picture.

The photo was not marked as to which play Dan was appearing in at that time, so if anyone can supply more info about this photo, please send an e-mail to me!

Dan Duryea on Broadway: The Little Foxes


Dan Duryea began his acting career on the Broadway stage. His first role was in the play Dead End, written by fellow Cornell-classmate, Sidney Kingsley. This was a walk-on role paying $40.00 a week, but it led to bigger things. Duryea landed the role of Leo Hubbard in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, and it was then that things began to take off.

The role of young Leo Hubbard is probably the most closely identified with the name of Dan Duryea. If you're an avid Duryea fan, then you have probably seen the movie. Dan does a great job as the slimy, good for nothing son, and it's not a surprise! By the time that Samuel Goldwyn brought him to California to put the role on film, Dan had been playing the part on Broadway for almost two years.

The Broadway play of The Little Foxes opened on February 15, 1939, at the National Theater. It ran for 410 performances before touring the United States. Dan appeared with the play during the entire run. When Samuel Goldwyn bought the film rights to the story, he also elected to bring several members of the cast to Hollywood, as well. Dan Duryea was one of those members. He moved his family out to California, and that was the last that Broadway ever saw of him.

Thanks to this move, Dan would spend twenty-eight years appearing in over sixty motion pictures and seventy-five television shows. In this manner, his talent has been preserved for future generations --- but it is really thanks to Broadway (and Leo Hubbard!) that Dan's made the big move from stage to films.

Photos and Memorabilia



(1st Photo) Left to right: Charles Dingle (as Ben Hubbard), Dan Duryea (as Leo Hubbard), Carl Benton Reid (as Oscar Hubbard) and Tallulah Bankhead (as Regina Giddens).

(2nd Photo) Left to right: Frank Conroy (as Horace Giddens), Tallulah Bankhead (as Regina Giddens) and Dan Duryea (as Leo Hubbard).

(3rd Photo) Left to right: Tallulah Bankhead (as Regina Giddens), Charles Dingle (as Ben Hubbard), Carl Benton Reid (as Oscar Hubbard) and Dan Duryea (as Leo Hubbard).

Here is a copy of a program from one of the performances during the play's U.S. tour. This particular night was January 23, 1940, in Phoenix, Arizona. Tallulah Bankhead starred as Regina Giddens (Bette Davis would take this part in the film adaptation.). Click on program to view at fullsize. This is the cast as listed in order of appearance:

Abbie Mitchell (Addie)
John Marriott (Cal)
Marie Carroll (Birdie Hubbard)
Carl Benton Reid (Oscar Hubbard)
Dan Duryea (Leo Hubbard)
Tallulah Bankhead (Regina Giddens)
Lee Baker (William Marshall)
Charles Dingle (Benjamin Hubbard)
Eugenia Rawls (Alexandra Giddens)
Frank Conroy (Horace Giddens)