Thomas E. Jackson, also known as Tom Jackson or Tommy Jackson, was an American stage and screen actor. His 67-year career spanned eight decades and two centuries, during which time he appeared in over a dozen Broadway plays, produced two others, acted in over a 130 films, as well as numerous television shows. Jackson would begin his career as a child actor in Broadway productions at the age of twelve, in the production The Ragged Earl, which had a short run at the Academy of Music in 1899. He would appear in several more productions as a youth over the next four years, before taking a ten-year absence from the stage. He would return to the theater in 1913, where he would remain until the end of the 1920s, appearing in or producing a dozen plays. His last stage performance would be in the hit play, Broadway, directed by George Abbott and Philip Dunning, which ran from 1926-28 at the Broadhurst Theatre. His portrayal of the sarcastic detective Dan McCorn earned him an invitation to reprise the role the following year in the film version of the play. Although he had appeared in minor roles in two 1910s films which had been produced in New Jersey (where the film industry was largely located prior to its move west), this would be his first featured role. He would return only once more to Broadway, in the role of producer, for the successful 1928 play, Gentlemen of the Press (which would be made into a successful film of the same name in 1929, starring Walter Huston and Kay Francis – although Jackson would have no involvement with the film).
The success of his performance reprising his role of Detective McCorn in Universal’s 1929 film Broadway started Jackson’s lengthy 38-year career in film and television. He would follow up this initial success with several performances in 1930, and in 1931 with a notable performance in Little Caesar, starring Edward G. Robinson, again in the role of the sarcastic police officer. One of his noticeable roles was playing Richard Snow in the hit drama Manhattan Melodrama with Clark Gable and William Powell. Most of the roles throughout his career were smaller character roles, with occasional featured roles, as in 1935’s The Call of the Wild, thrown in. Notable films in which he appeared included: the original 1934 The Thin Man, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy; the James Cagney vehicle, Angels With Dirty Faces in 1938; the William Wellman 1939 version of Beau Geste, with Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston; 1943’s Yankee Doodle Dandy, starring Cagney; Union Station in 1950, starring William Holden; and the 1952 biopic of John Philip Sousa, Stars and Stripes Forever, directed by Henry Koster and starring Clifton Webb. He also appeared in the original 1945 version of the classic film noir, The Big Sleep (1946), but his on-screen time was cut out when changes were made to it before its ultimate release in 1946. His part (along with the part played by actor James Flavin in the same scene) was eventually seen by the general audience when the original version was released in the 1990s.
Ironically, his final film role would be in the 1958 film The Last Hurrah, starring Spencer Tracy and Jeffrey Hunter. He had begun appearing in episodic television several years earlier, in 1954, being seen in such series as Waterfront and Topper, and he would seamlessly transition to the small screen. During the late 1950s through the late 60s, he would appear in guest spots on dozens of television shows, such as Dragnet, Adventures of Superman, Have Gun – Will Travel, and 77 Sunset Strip. According to the Internet Movie Database, his final role was an uncredited performance in 1966’s A Big Hand for the Little Lady. Jackson would die of a heart attack on September 7, 1967 in Hollywood, California.
- July, 04, 1885
- New York, New York
- September, 07, 1967
- Hollywood, California
Cause of Death
- heart attack
- Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
- Los Angeles, California