• 8 December 1905
  •  St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Frank Faylen


American character actor who specialized in average-guy parts and who could be equally effective in sympathetic or unlikeable roles. His parents, the vaudeville team of Ruf and Cusik, took him onstage with them when he was a baby, and Faylen grew up in the theatre. He attended St. Joseph's Preparatory College in Kirkwood, Missouri, but returned to vaudeville as a comic pantomimist. He toured the country throughout the late Twenties and early Thirties as a clown and later as song-and-dance man with acrobatic agility. During a tour stop in Los Angeles, he was screen tested and began a thirty-year career as one of Hollywood's most familiar character players. His most famous film roles were as the vicious male nurse Bim in The Lost Weekend (1945) and as the cabdriver Ernie in It's a Wonderful Life (1946). But his greatest fame came in television, particularly as Dobie's dad Herbert T. Gillis in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959). Faylen was married to actress Carol Hughes, with whom he had two daughters. He retired after Funny Girl (1968), and died in 1985.