Victor McLaglen
in Sea Devils (1937)
Victor Andrew de Bier Everleigh McLaglen

(1886-12-10)10 December 1886
Died7 November 1959(1959-11-07) (aged 72)
Burial placeForest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
Years active1920–1958
Spouse(s)Enid Lamont (1919-1942) (her death)
Suzanne M. Brueggeman (1943-1948)
Margaret Pumphrey (1948-1959) (his death)

Victor Andrew de Bier Everleigh McLaglen (10 December 1886 – 7 November 1959) was a British-American film actor.[1] He was known as a character actor, particularly in Westerns, and made seven films with John Ford and John Wayne. McLaglen won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1935 for his role in The Informer.

Early life

McLaglen claimed to have been born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, though his birth certificate records Stepney in the East End of London as his true birthplace.[2] His father, Andrew Charles Albert McClaglen, later a bishop of the Free Protestant Episcopal Church of England,[3] moved the family to South Africa when McLaglen was a child. He had eight brothers and a sister. Four of his brothers also became actors: Arthur (1888–1972), an actor and sculptor, and Clifford (1892–1978), Cyril (1899–1987) and Kenneth (circa 1901-1979).[4] Other siblings included Frederick (born circa 1882), Sydney (born circa 1884), Lewis (born circa 1889) and a sister, Lily (born circa 1893). Another brother, Leopold McLaglen (1884-1951), who appeared in one film, gained notoriety prior to World War I as a showman and self-proclaimed world jujutsu champion,[5] who authored a book on the subject.[6]

Military service

McLaglen left home at 14 to join the British Army with the intention of fighting in the Second Boer War. However, much to his chagrin, he was stationed at Windsor Castle in the Life Guards[7] and was later forced to leave the army when his true age was discovered.

Four years later, he moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where he became a local celebrity,[8] earning a living as a wrestler and heavyweight boxer, with several notable wins in the ring. One of his most famous fights was against heavyweight champion Jack Johnson in a six-round exhibition bout.[9] This was Johnson's first bout since winning the heavyweight title from Tommy Burns. Between bouts, McLaglen toured with a circus, which offered $25 to anyone who could go three rounds with him. He also briefly served as a constable in the Winnipeg Police Force in 1907.

He returned to Britain in 1913 and during the First World War served as a captain (acting) with the 10th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. Later, he claimed to have served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. He served for a time as military Assistant Provost Marshal for the city of Baghdad.[10] He also continued boxing, and was named heavyweight champion of the British Army in 1918.[9] After the war, he began taking roles in British silent films.



McLaglen was visiting a sporting club when spotted by a film producer who was looking for a boxer to play the lead in a film, The Call of the Road (1920). Although McLaglen had never acted before he auditioned and got the part.[11]

He was in the adventure films: Corinthian Jack (1921), andThe Prey of the Dragon (1921). He followed it with The Sport of Kings (1921), The Glorious Adventure (1922), A Romance of Old Baghdad (1922), Little Brother of God (1922), A Sailor Tramp (1922), The Crimson Circle (1922), The Romany (1922), and Heartstrings (1922).

McLaglen played leads in M'Lord of the White Road (1923), In the Blood (1923), The Boatswain's Mate (1923), Women and Diamonds (1924), and The Gay Corinthian (1924).

He was in The Passionate Adventure (1924), co written by Alfred Hitchcock, and The Beloved Brute (1924), The Hunted Woman (1925), and Percy (1925).


McLaglen's career took a surprise turn in the 1920s when he moved to Hollywood. He became a popular character actor, with a particular knack for playing drunks. He also usually played Irishmen, leading many film fans to mistakenly assume he was Irish rather than English. McLaglen played one of the titular Unholy Three (1925) in Lon Chaney, Sr.'s original silent version of the macabre crime drama.

McLaglen had a support part in Winds of Chance (1925), directed by Frank Lloyd, then made The Fighting Heart (1925) at Fox, directed by John Ford. Ford was to have a major impact on McLaglen's career.

McLaglen was in The Isle of Retribution (1925), Men of Steel (1926), and Beau Geste (1926), playing Hank in the latter.

What Price Glory? and Stardom

Edmund Lowe, Dolores del Rio, and McLaglen in What Price Glory? (1926)

McLaglen was the top-billed leading man in director Raoul Walsh's First World War classic What Price Glory? (1926) with Edmund Lowe and Dolores del Rio. The film was a huge success, making over $2 million, and Fox signed McLaglen to a long term contract.[12]

Fox put McLaglen in The Loves of Carmen(1927) with del Rio, directed by Walsh. He was top billed in Mother Machree (1928), directed by Ford.

McLaglen was top billed in A Girl in Every Port (1928), a Howard Hawks buddy comedy in the spirit of What Price Glory?, co starring Robert Armstrong and Louise Brooks.

He starred in Hangman's House (1928) for Ford, a romantic drama set in Ireland, and The River Pirate (1928), and Captain Lash (1929).

McLaglen then made two films for Ford: Strong Boy (1929) and The Black Watch (1929).

Talking Movies

McLaglen was one of many Fox stars who had cameos in the musical Happy Days (1929). He was reunited with Edmund Lowe and Raoul Walsh in a sequel to What Price Glory?, The Cock-Eyed World (1929), which was another huge success at the box office.[12]

McLaglen made a musical with Walsh, Hot for Paris (1930), then made On the Level (1930). A Devil with Women (1931) was a buddy comedy with Humphrey Bogart.

McLaglen was borrowed by Paramount for Dishonored (1931), starring Marlene Dietrich and directed by Joseph von Sternberg. He was in Not Exactly a Gentleman (1931) and hada cameo in the short film The Stolen Jools (1931).

McLaglen, Lowe and Walsh reunited for a second sequel to What Price Glory?, Women of All Nations (1931). He was in Annabelle's Affairs (1931), Wicked (1931), The Gay Caballero (1932), and Devil's Lottery (1923)

McLaglen and Lowe went to Paramount for Guilty as Hell (1932). Back at Fox he was in Rackety Rax (1932) then made a fourth What Price Glory? film with Lowe, Hot Pepper (1933). McLaglen starred in Laughing at Life (1933) and returned to Britain to make Dick Turpin (1933).

McLaglen starred opposite Boris Karloff's crazed religious fanatic in John Ford's The Lost Patrol (1934) at RKO, a picture about desperate soldiers gradually losing their minds fighting Arabs in the desert of what is now Iraq.

At Paramount, McLaglen and Lowe were in No More Women (1934) (a non-What Price Glory? film), then McLaglen made Wharf Angel (1934). He was one of many stars in Murder at the Vanities (1934).

At Columbia, McLaglen starred in The Captain Hates the Sea (1934) with John Gilbert. He and Lowe reunited at Fox for Under Pressure (1935) (directed by Walsh) and The Great Hotel Murder (1935).

The Informer

Another highlight of his career was winning an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Ford's The Informer (1935), shot at RKO, based on a novel of the same name by Liam O'Flaherty. Frank Tashlin's 1938 cartoon Have You Got Any Castles? features a caricature of McLaglen emerging from the novel and literally informing someone about some shady characters.

Back at Fox - now 20th Century Fox - McLaglen made Professional Soldier (1935) with Freddie Bartholomew]. At Paramount he was teamed with Mae West in Klondike Annie (1936), then he went back to Fox for Under Two Flags (1936) with Rosalind Russell and Ronald Colman.

McLaglen starred in Magnificent Brute (1937) for Universal, Sea Devils (1937) for RKO and Nancy Steele Is Missing! (1937) for Fox. He stayed at Fox to support Robert Taylor in This Is My Affair (1937) and, notably, Shirley Temple in Wee Willie Winkie (1937) directed by Fox. He had a cameo in Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937).

He and Brian Donlevy made a buddy comedy Battle of Broadway (1938) at Fox, then he went to Universal for The Devil's Party (1938).

Gunga Din

McLaglen returned to Britain for We're Going to Be Rich (1938) with Gracie Fields. Back in Hollywood he did some films for RKO: Pacific Liner (1939) and Gunga Din (1939). The latter, with Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., was an adventure epic loosely based on Rudyard Kipling's poem that served as the template decades later for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).

He supported Nelson Eddy in Let Freedom Ring (1939) at MGM and was in Ex-Champ (1939). He supported Brian Aherne in Captain Fury (1939) and starred in Full Confession (1939) for John Farrow at RKO, the latter film being a semi-remake of The Informer.

At Universal McLaglen teamed with Bail Rathbone in Rio (1939) and Jackie Cooper in The Big Guy (1939). He was top billed in Edward Small's South Seas adventure, South of Pago Pago (1940). He remained top billed for Diamond Frontier (1940), and Broadway Limited (1941).

McLaglen and Lowe reprised their roles from What Price Glory? in the radio program Captain Flagg and Sergeant Quirt, broadcast on the Blue Network (28 September 1941 – 25 January 1942, and on NBC 13 February 1942 – 3 April 1942.)[13]

McLaglen and Lowe then played basically the same roles but under different names in Call Out the Marines (1942) at RKO. He starred in Powder Town (1942) and went to Fox to support Gene Tierney in China Girl (1942). He was one of many stars in Forever and a Day (1943) and had a support role in Tampico (1943), and Roger Touhy, Gangster (1944). McLaglen was a villain in Bob Hope's The Princess and the Pirate (1944) and he could be seen in Rough, Tough and Ready.

Supporting Actor

McLaglen began to be exclusively a support actor, with parts in Love, Honor and Goodbye (1945), Whistle Stop (1946), Calendar Girl (1947), The Michigan Kid (1947), and The Foxes of Harrow (1947).

McLaglen was back with John Ford for Fort Apache (1948) with John Wayne. It was very much a support part, as a cavalry sergeant, but so well received that McLaglen basically reprised it in the other two films in the Ford-Wayne "cavalry trilogy": She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950).

McLaglen was later nominated for another Oscar, this time for an Best Supporting Actor for his role opposite John Wayne in The Quiet Man (1952).

McLaglen continued to be in demand as a support actor in action films: Fair Wind to Java (1953) and Prince Valiant (1954). He went to Britain for Trouble in the Glen (1954), an unsuccessful attempt to do for Scotland what The Quiet Man did for Ireland.

Back in Hollywood he was in Many Rivers to Cross (1955) at MGM.

Later Career

McLaglen had a rare late career lead role in City of Shadows (1955) at Republic and he was second billed in Bengazi (1955). However he went back to supports with Lady Godiva of Coventry (1955). He had a cameo in Around the World in 80 Days (1956) then had another lead in The Abductors (1957), directed by his son, Andrew.

Toward the end of his career, McLaglen made several guest appearances on television, particularly in Western series such as Have Gun, Will Travel and Rawhide. The episodes in which McLaglen guest-starred were both directed by his son, Andrew V. McLaglen, who later became a film director who frequently directed John Wayne.

He went to Italy for Gli Italiani sono matti and had a good part in Sea Fury (1958), shot in England with Stanley Baker.


In 1933, he founded the California Light Horse Regiment, which included a "riding parade club, a polo-playing group and a precision motorcycle contingent." He described it in a press interview as promoting "Americanism." He said it was organized to fight communists and others "opposed to the American ideal," both inside and outside the country. McLaglen was attacked by some on the left as fascist, which he denied. He said he was a "patriot of the good old-fashioned American kind."[14]

Personal life

Fay Wray, unidentified player on left and McLaglen in Not Exactly Gentlemen, also known as Three Rogues[15] (1931)

In 1935, McLaglen spent a reported $40,000 to build his own stadium near Riverside Drive and Hyperion Avenue, near Griffith Park and the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles. The stadium was used for football and many other activities. The Los Angeles River flood of 1938 seriously damaged the stadium, and it fell into disuse thereafter.[16][17] In 1941, he was selected as the grand marshal of the Clovis Rodeo parade in Clovis, California.[18]

Victor McLaglen was married three times. He first married Enid Lamont in 1919. The couple had one daughter, Sheila, and one son, Andrew. Andrew McLaglen was a television and film director who worked on several film projects with John Wayne. Andrew's children, Mary and Josh McLaglen, are both film producers and directors. Sheila's daughter, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, is a television director. Enid Lamont McLaglen died in 1942 as a result of a horse-riding accident.

His second marriage was to Suzanne M. Brueggeman. That marriage lasted from 1943 until 1948. His third and final marriage was to Margaret Pumphrey, a Seattle socialite he married in 1948.[19] They remained married until his death of a heart attack in 1959. He had by that time become a naturalized U.S. citizen. His cremated remains are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale in the Garden of Memory, Columbarium of Eternal Light.[20]

On February 8, 1960, McLaglen received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1735 Vine Street, for his contributions to the motion picture industry.[21][22]


With Lili Damita in The Cock-Eyed World (1929), an early talkie
McLaglen and Cary Grant in
Gunga Din (1939)
Year Title Role Notes
1920 The Call of the Road Alf Truscott
1921 Carnival Baron
1921 Corinthian Jack Jack Halstead
1921 The Prey of the Dragon Brett 'Dragon' Mercer
1921 The Sport of Kings Frank Rosedale
1922 The Glorious Adventure Bulfinch
1922 A Romance of Old Baghdad Miski
1922 Little Brother of God King Kennidy
1922 A Sailor Tramp The Sailor Tramp
1922 The Crimson Circle
1923 The Romany The Chief
1923 Heartstrings Frank Wilson
1923 Woman to Woman Nubian slave Uncredited
1923 M'Lord of the White Road Lord Annerley / John
1923 In the Blood Tony Crabtree
1924 The Boatswain's Mate Ned Travers
1924 Women and Diamonds Brian Owen
1924 The Gay Corinthian Squire Hardcastle
1924 The Passionate Adventure Herb Harris
1924 The Beloved Brute Charles Hinges
1925 The Hunted Woman Quade
1925 Percy Reedy Jenkins
1925 The Unholy Three Hercules, the strongman
1925 Winds of Chance Poleon Doret
1925 The Fighting Heart Soapy Williams
1926 The Isle of Retribution Doomsdorf
1926 Men of Steel Pete Masarick
1926 Beau Geste Hank
1926 What Price Glory? Capt. Flagg
1927 The Loves of Carmen Escamillo
1928 Mother Machree The Giant of Kilkenny (Terence O'Dowd) With John Ford & John Wayne.
1928 A Girl in Every Port Spike Madden
1928 Hangman's House Citizen Denis Hogan With John Ford & John Wayne.
1928 The River Pirate Sailor Fritz
1929 Captain Lash Captain Lash
1929 Strong Boy Strong Boy
1929 The Black Watch Capt. Donald Gordon King With John Ford & John Wayne.
1929 Happy Days Minstrel Show Performer
1929 The Cock-Eyed World Top Sergeant Flagg
1929 Hot for Paris John Patrick Duke
1930 On the Level Biff Williams
1930 A Devil with Women Jerry Maxton
1931 Dishonored Col. Kranau
1931 Not Exactly a Gentleman
(aka Three Rogues)[15]
Bull Stanley
1931 The Stolen Jools Sergeant Flagg
1931 Women of All Nations Captain Jim Flagg
1931 Annabelle's Affairs John Rawson / Hefly Jack
1931 Wicked Scott Burrows
1932 The Gay Caballero Don Bob Harkness / El Coyote
1932 Devil's Lottery Jem Meech
1932 While Paris Sleeps Jacques Costaud
1932 Guilty as Hell Detective Capt. T.R. McKinley
1932 Rackety Rax 'Knucks' McGloin
1933 Hot Pepper Jim Flagg
1933 Laughing at Life Dennis P. McHale / Burke / Captain Hale
1934 The Lost Patrol The Sergeant
1934 No More Women Forty-Fathoms
1934 Wharf Angel Turk
1934 Dick Turpin Dick Turpin
1934 Murder at the Vanities Police Lt. Bill Murdock
1934 The Captain Hates the Sea Junius P. Schulte
1935 Under Pressure Jumbo Smith
1935 The Great Hotel Murder Andrew W. 'Andy' McCabe
1935 The Informer Gypo Nolan Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1935 Professional Soldier Michael Donovan
1936 Klondike Annie Bull Brackett
1936 Under Two Flags J.C. Doyle
1936 Magnificent Brute 'Big Steve' Andrews as Victor McLaglen - Academy Award Winner
1937 Sea Devils CPO William 'Medals' Malone
1937 Nancy Steele Is Missing! Dannie O'Neill
1937 This Is My Affair Jock Ramsay
1937 Wee Willie Winkie Sgt. Donald MacDuff
1937 Ali Baba Goes to Town Himself Uncredited
1938 Battle of Broadway Big Ben Wheeler
1938 The Devil's Party Marty Malone
1938 We're Going to Be Rich Dobbie
1939 Pacific Liner J.B. 'Crusher' McKay, Chief Engineer
1939 Gunga Din Sgt. 'Mac' MacChesney
1939 Let Freedom Ring Chris Mulligan
1939 Ex-Champ Tom 'Gunner' Grey
1939 Captain Fury Jerry Black aka Blackie
1939 Full Confession Patt McGinnis
1939 Rio Dirk
1939 The Big Guy Warden Bill Whitlock
1940 South of Pago Pago Bucko Larson
1940 Diamond Frontier Terrence Regan
1941 Broadway Limited Maurice 'Mike' Monohan
1942 Call Out the Marines Sgt. Jimmy McGinnis
1942 Powder Town Jeems O'Shea
1942 China Girl Major Bull Weed
1943 Forever and a Day Archibald Spavin (hotel doorman)
1944 Tampico Fred Adamson
1944 Roger Touhy, Gangster Herman 'Owl' Banghart
1944 The Princess and the Pirate Captain Barrett ak The Hook
1945 Rough, Tough and Ready Owen McCare
1945 Love, Honor and Goodbye Terry O'Farrell
1946 Whistle Stop Gitlo
1947 Calendar Girl Matthew O'Neil
1947 The Michigan Kid Curley Davis
1947 The Foxes of Harrow Captain Mike Farrell
1948 Fort Apache Sgt. Festus Mulcahy With John Ford & John Wayne.
1949 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon Top Sgt. Quincannon With John Ford & John Wayne.
1950 Rio Grande Sgt. Maj. Timothy Quincannon With John Ford & John Wayne.
1952 The Quiet Man Squire 'Red' Will Danaher With John Ford & John Wayne
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1953 Fair Wind to Java O'Brien
1953 This Is Your Life Himself episode: Victor McLaglen
1954 Prince Valiant Boltar
1954 Trouble in the Glen Parlan
1955 Many Rivers to Cross Mr. Cadmus Cherne
1955 City of Shadows Big Tim Channing
1955 Bengazi Robert Emmett Donovan
1955 Lady Godiva of Coventry Grimald
1956 Around the World in 80 Days Helmsman of the SS Henrietta
1957 The Abductors Tom Muldoon
1958 Have Gun - Will Travel Mike O'Hare episode: The O'Hare Story
1958 Gli Italiani sono matti Sergente O'Riley
1958 Sea Fury Captain Bellew
1959 Rawhide Harry Wittman episode: Incident of the Shambling Man, (final television appearance)

See also


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, 11 November 1959, page 79.
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  3. ^ Victor McLaglen’s father – new revelations; Peter Anson BISHOPS AT LARGE (1964) has further information on Bishop McLaglen.
  4. ^ Victor McLaglen, Query. Great War Forum. 19 March 2006.
  5. ^ "The Science of Jiujitsu". Journal of Non-lethal Combatives. December 2002.
  6. ^ Noble, Graham. Early Ju-jutsu: The Challenges.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Winnipeg's 'Quiet' Man Manitoba Historical Society.
  9. ^ a b Victor McLaglen. Cyber Boxing Zone.
  10. ^ Victor McLaglen myth?. Great War Forum. 26 September 2005.
  11. ^ "VICTOR McLAGLEN'S START". Port Adelaide News. Vol. 18, , no. 26. South Australia. 4 September 1931. p. 4. Retrieved 18 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.((cite news)): CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  12. ^ a b "WHICH CINEMA FILMS HAVE EARNED THE MOST MONEY SINCE 1914?". The Argus (Melbourne). No. 30, 427. Victoria, Australia. 4 March 1944. p. 3 (The Argus Weekend magazine). Retrieved 18 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Pp. 136-137.
  14. ^ Critchlow, Donald T. (2013). When Hollywood was right : how movie stars, studio moguls, and big business remade American politics (1. publ. ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 0521199182. ((cite book)): |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  15. ^ a b Not Exactly Gentlemen aka Three Rogues (1931) at IMDb
  16. ^ Jim Thurman, "10 L.A. Sports Venues That Are No More", LA Weekly, 23 December 2013.
  17. ^ Ted Elrick, Los Angeles River (Arcadia Publishing, 2008), ISBN 978-0738547183, pp. 27, 45-47. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  18. ^ 102nd Clovis Rodeo Official Souvenir Program, Page 12
  19. ^ Time Magazine, Milestones
  20. ^ "Victor McLaglen (1886 - 1959) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  21. ^ "Victor McLaglen | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  22. ^ "Victor McLaglen". Retrieved 19 July 2016.