Oscar Actors: Jagger, Dean–Social Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage, Emmy)

Research in Progress: August 15, 2021.

Dean Jagger Career Summary:


Born November 7, 1903 in Lima, Ohio.

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: farm


Education: Wabash College

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

First Film:

Gap between First Film and First Nom:

Oscar Role: Twelve O’clock High, 1949; aged

Age at winning: 46

Cumulative Advantage: Emmy Award

Death: Feb 5, 1991, age 87.

Raised on farms in Columbus Grove, Ohio, and rural Indiana, Jagger taught elementary school for several semesters before deciding on an acting career.

Replacing Spencer Tracy

After attending the Lyceum Art Conservatory in Chicago, he joined stock company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, replacing Spencer Tracy.

Jagger later appeared in vaudeville, on radio, and on Broadway;

He made his screen debut in 1929, and soon developed into a lead and character actor. Bald, robust, and personable, he played a variety of roles, including men of action.

He received the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the intense WWII drama, Henry Koster’s Twelve O’Clock High (1949), which was also nominated for the Best Picture.

In the film, he played the retread World War veteran, middle-aged adjutant Major/Lt. Col. Harvey Stovall, who acts as an advisor to the commander, General Savage (Gregory Peck).

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Jagger refused to work with director Joseph Losey on the 1956 sci-fi, “The Unknown,” because Losey was on the Hollywood blacklist.  After a few days of shooting, Losey was replaced by Leslie Norman.

Jagger was in Three Brave Men (1956), The Great Man (1956) (second billed to José Ferrer), Zane Grey Theatre, Bernadine (1957) with Pat Boone, an episode of Playhouse 90, Forty Guns (1957) for Sam Fuller, and The Proud Rebel (1958) with Alan Ladd and directed by Michael Curtiz.

Jagger also portrayed the father of Elvis Presley’s character in 1958’s King Creole, directed by Curtiz.

Jagger appeared in Zinnemann’s “The Nun’s Story” (1959), playing the father of Audrey Hepburn.

He was seen as the traveling manager for an evangelist played by Jean Simmons in the acclaimed 1960 drama Elmer Gantry.

TV Work: Emmy Awards and Nominations

Jagger was also an accomplished actor on TV, including the “Mr. Novak” series (1963-1965).

He won an Emmy for his role in a 1980 segment of the religious program, “This Is the Life.”

Oscar Alert

In 1949, Dean Jagger competed for (and won) the Supporting Actor Oscar in a race that included John Ireland in “All the King’s Men,” Arthur Kennedy in “Champion,” Ralph Richardson in “The Heiress,” and James Whitmore in “Battleground.”

Longer Biography

Born Dean Jeffries Jagger or Dean Ida Jagger in Columbus Grove or Lima, Ohio. He wanted to act and practiced oratory on cows while working on the farm. He later won several oratory competitions.

At age 14, he worked as an orderly at a sanatorium.

He dropped out of school several times before finally attending Wabash College. While at Wabash, he was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and played football. He dropped out in his second year, realizing he was not suited to an academic life.

At age 17, he taught all eight grades in a rural elementary school, before heading to Chicago. He studied at the Conservatory of Drama with Elias Day, and through him got a job on the Chautauqua Circuit.

Jagger studied acting at Chicago’s Lyceum Arts Conservatory. He played Young Matt in a production of Shepherd of the Hills on the stage in Chicago. This experience resulted in him deciding to try his luck in New York City.[

He joined a stock company as Spencer Tracy’s replacement. He performed in vaudeville, on the radio and on stage, making his Broadway debut in 1925 in a bit part in a George M. Cohan production.

He was in a play Remote Control in 1928.

Jagger visited Los Angeles on a vaudeville show with Irene Rich. While there, he made his film debut in The Woman from Hell (1929) with Mary Astor. “My good notices,” he later recalled, “had a reverse effect on the industry, which was suddenly revolutionized by sound pictures. With the one film to my credit, I was considered part of that group of untouchables-silent film stars.”[9]

He followed it with Handcuffed (1929). Jagger decided to move into film production, helping raise money to make a feature that ultimately never was released. He returned to New York City.

Tobacco Road
Jagger’s big career break came when cast in a lead role in Tobacco Road in 1933, which was a huge hit.

Jagger left the show in 1934 to appear in They Shall Not Die, which only ran 62 performances.

In April 1934, Jagger signed a contract with Paramount, for which he made You Belong to Me (1934), then College Rhythm (1934), Behold My Wife! (1934), Wings in the Dark (1935), Home on the Range (1935), Car 99 (1935), People Will Talk (1935), and Men Without Names (1935).[6][8]

Paramount gave him a lead role in the B Western Wanderer of the Wasteland (1935). He was back in supporting parts in It’s a Great Life (1935), Woman Trap (1936), and 13 Hours by Air (1936).

Victor Halperin borrowed him to play the lead role in Revolt of the Zombies (1936). He went to 20th Century Fox for Pepper (1936) and Star for a Night (1936), then went to MGM for Under Cover of Night (1937).

Jagger did Woman in Distress (1937) at Columbia, and Dangerous Number (1937) and Song of the City (1937) at MGM.

Jagger went to Republic for Escape by Night (1937) and Exiled to Shanghai (1937).

Jagger played Michael Drops In in summer stock and returned to Broadway to star in Missouri Legend (1938), which ran 48 performances.

He was also in short runs for Everywhere I Roam (1938–39), Brown Danube (1939), Farm of Three Echoes (1939–40) with Ethel Barrymore, and Unconquered (1940) by Ayn Rand.


Jagger made his breakthrough with his portrayal of Brigham Young in Brigham Young (1940) at 20th Century Fox, alongside Tyrone Power for director Henry Hathaway. He was cast on the basis of his performance in Missouri Legend. Jagger not only resembled Young, but he also spoke like him and had many of his mannerisms. Thirty-two years later, in 1972 he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Fox signed him to a long-term contract and put him in Western Union (1941) for Fritz Lang. He was announced for the Biblical film The Great Commandment and a biopic of Lewis and Clark with Randolph Scott, but neither was made.

Instead, Jagger did The Men in Her Life (1941) for Columbia, Valley of the Sun (1942) at RKO, and The Omaha Trail (1942) at MGM.

Jagger had a rare lead role in I Escaped from the Gestapo (1943) for the King Brothers, then went back to supporting roles for The North Star (1943) for Sam Goldwyn. The King Brothers gave him top billing again with When Strangers Marry (1944). Jagger did Alaska (1944) at Monogram, which distributed to King films.

Jagger went to England to appear in I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945) with Anna Neagle and Rex Harrison.

He had good roles in Sister Kenny (1946) with Rosalind Russell and Pursued (1947) with Robert Mitchum.

He did Driftwood (1947) for Republic and started appearing on TV shows such as The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Studio One, and The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre.

Jagger returned to Broadway for Dr. Social (1948), but it had a short run.

He had the lead role in ‘C’-Man (1949).

Twelve O’Clock High
Jagger received the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Twelve O’Clock High (1949), made at Fox for director Henry King. In the film, he played the retread World War I veteran, middle-aged adjutant Major/Lt. Col. Harvey Stovall, who acts as advisor to commander General Savage (Gregory Peck).

Jagger stayed a supporting actor, though, appearing in Sierra (1950) with Audie Murphy at Universal, Dark City (1950) for Hal Wallis, Rawhide (1951) with Hathaway and Power at Fox, and Warpath (1951) at Paramount with Edmond O’Brien and directed by Byron Haskin.

Jagger had a lead role in the notorious anti-Communist film My Son John (1952) at Paramount. He was in Denver and Rio Grande (1952), again with Haskin and O’Brien, and episodes of Gulf Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Cavalcade of America, Schlitz Playhouse, and Studio 57.

He appeared in the biblical epic The Robe (1953) as the weaver Justus of Cana, and was in Private Hell 36 (1954).

He played retired Army Major General Tom Waverly honored by Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) in the musical White Christmas (1954), and an impotent local sheriff in the modern Western Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), starring Spencer Tracy for MGM. He was also in The Eternal Sea (1955) at Republic, It’s a Dog’s Life (1955) at MGM, On the Threshold of Space (1956) at Fox, and Red Sundown (1956) at Universal.

For the 1956 British science-fiction film X the Unknown, Jagger refused to work with director Joseph Losey because Losey was on the Hollywood blacklist. Losey came off the project after a few days of shooting and was replaced by Leslie Norman. An alternative version is that Losey was replaced due to illness. Half the budget, $30,000, went to Jagger’s fee.

Jagger was in The 20th Century Fox Hour, Three Brave Men (1956), The Great Man (1956) (second-billed to José Ferrer), Zane Grey Theatre, “Bernadine” (1957) with Pat Boone, an episode of Playhouse 90, Forty Guns (1957) for Sam Fuller, and The Proud Rebel (1958) with Alan Ladd and directed by Michael Curtiz.

Jagger also portrayed the father of Elvis Presley’s character in 1958’s King Creole, directed by Curtiz.

Jagger was in The Nun’s Story (1959), playing the father of Audrey Hepburn, and Cash McCall (1960), and was the traveling manager for an evangelist played by Jean Simmons in the acclaimed 1960 drama Elmer Gantry.

He did two failed pilots, including The House on K Street.

In the 1960s, Jagger increasingly worked on TV appearing in The Twilight Zone (“Static”), Sunday Showcase, Our American Heritage, General Electric Theater, Dr. Kildare, The Christophers, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

He also appeared in the films Parrish (1961), The Honeymoon Machine (1961) and Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962).

Jagger achieved success with the television series Mr. Novak (1963–1965), receiving Emmy Award nominations for his role in 1964 and 1965, as well as the California Teachers Association’s Communications Award, along with star James Franciscus, in 1963 for his portrayal of high-school principal Albert Vane.[5] Before he left the show to have a major medical operation, though, he was less than happy with the series, clashing repeatedly with the writers and directors[5] and describing “the Mr. Novak company” afterwards as “a mishmash of unbelievable amateurishness.”

“It is unforgivable how bad TV is today,” he said in 1965. “The people doing it have succumbed to the cliché that there is no time to be good in TV, or that we doing it are lucky to get one good episode out of three. Why?” Jagger officially left the show in December 1964 because of an ulcer.

Jagger’s appearances in the 1960s included episodes of The F.B.I. and The Fugitive, as well as films First to Fight (1967), Firecreek (1968), Day of the Evil Gun (1968), Smith! (1968) with Glenn Ford, The Lonely Profession (1969), Tiger by the Tail (1970), The Kremlin Letter (1970), Men at Law, The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970), again with Ford, and an episode of The Name of the Game.

He had a semiregular role on the series Matt Lincoln (1970) as the father of the title character, and parts in Vanishing Point (1971), Bonanza, and Incident in San Francisco (1971).

In 1971, Jagger appeared on The Partridge Family. He played a prospector named Charlie in the Christmas episode “Don’t Bring Your Guns to Town, Santa”.

Jagger was in The Glass House (1972), Columbo, Kung Fu (Jagger appeared as Caine’s grandfather, who wants little to do with him, but starts Caine on his series-long search for his half-brother Danny), Alias Smith and Jones, Medical Center, The Stranger (1973), The Delphi Bureau, The Lie (1973), Shaft, I Heard the Owl Call My Name (1973), Love Story, The Hanged Man (1974), The Great Lester Boggs (1974), So Sad About Gloria (1975), The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976), Harry O, Hunter, End of the World (1977), and Evil Town (1977).

He played the syndicate boss in Game of Death (1978) as the nemesis of Bruce Lee.

Jagger’s later appearances included The Waltons, Gideon’s Trumpet (1980) and Alligator (1980)

He won a Daytime Emmy award for a guest appearance in the religious series This Is the Life.

His last role was as Dr. David Domedion in the St. Elsewhere season-three finale “Cheers” in 1985.

Dean Jagger has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1523 Vine Street for his contribution to motion pictures.

When Jagger tried to marry his second wife, Gloria Ling, in 1947, they were denied a marriage license in California due to a state law “forbidding unions between Caucasians and Mongolians”; Ling’s father had been born in China. Within two days, the couple had flown to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and were married under “New Mexico’s more liberal statute.”

In later life, Jagger suffered from heart disease; he died in his sleep in Santa Monica, California. He was 87, and was buried in the small town of Hughson, California, at Lakewood Memorial Park.

Jagger joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints later in his life.

Complete filmography

The Woman from Hell (1929) as Jim Coakley
Handcuffed (1929) as Gerald Morely
Whoopee! (1930) as Deputy (uncredited)
You Belong to Me (1934) as Military School Instructor
College Rhythm (1934) as Coach Robbins
Behold My Wife! (1934) as Pete
Home on the Range (1935) as Thurman
Wings in the Dark (1935) as Top Harmon
Car 99 (1935) as Trooper Jim Burton
People Will Talk (1935) as Bill Trask
Men Without Names (1935) as Jones
Wanderer of the Wasteland (1935) as Adam Larey
It’s a Great Life (1935) as Arnold
Woman Trap (1936) as ‘Honey’ Hogan
Thirteen Hours by Air (1936) as Hap Waller
Revolt of the Zombies (1936) as Armand Louque
Pepper (1936) as Bob O’Ryan
Star for a Night (1936) as Fritz Lind
Under Cover of Night (1937) as Alan Shaw
Woman in Distress (1937) as Fred Stevens
Dangerous Number (1937) as Vance Dillman
Song of the City (1937) as Paul Herrick
Escape by Night (1937) as James ‘Capper’ Regan
Exiled to Shanghai (1937) as Charlie Sears
Having Wonderful Time (1938) as Charlie – Emma’s Husband (uncredited)
Brigham Young (1940) as Brigham Young
Western Union (1941) as Edward Creighton
The Men in Her Life (1941) as David Gibson
Valley of the Sun (1942) as Jim Sawyer
The Omaha Trail (1942) as ‘Pipestone’ Ross
I Escaped from the Gestapo (1943) as Torgut Lane
The North Star (1943) as Rodion Pavlov
When Strangers Marry (1944) as Paul Baxter
Alaska (1944) as U.S. Marshal John Masters
I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945) (US title: A Yank in London) as Sgt. John Patterson
Sister Kenny (1946) as Kevin Connors
Pursued (1947) as Grant Callum
Driftwood (1947) as Dr. Steve Webster
C-Man (1949) as Cliff Holden – alias William Harrah
Twelve O’Clock High (1949) as Major Stovall
Sierra (1950) as Jeff Hassard
Dark City (1950) as Capt. Garvey
Rawhide (1951) as Yancy
Warpath (1951) as Sam Quade
My Son John (1952) as Dan Jefferson
Denver and Rio Grande (1952) as Gen. William J. Palmer
It Grows on Trees (1952) as Phil Baxter
The Robe (1953) as Justus
Executive Suite (1954) as Jesse Q. Grimm
Private Hell 36 (1954) as Capt. Michaels
White Christmas (1954) as Major General Thomas F. Waverly
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) as Tim Horn
The Eternal Sea (1955) as Vice-Adm. Thomas L. Semple
It’s a Dog’s Life (1955) as Mr. Wyndham
Red Sundown (1956) as Sheriff Jade Murphy
On the Threshold of Space (1956) as Dr. Hugo Thornton
X the Unknown (1956) as Dr. Adam Royston
Three Brave Men (1956) as John W. Rogers – Secretary of the Navy
The Great Man (1956) as Philip Carleton
Bernardine (1957) as J. Fullerton Weldy
Forty Guns (1957) as Sheriff Ned Logan
The Proud Rebel (1958) as Harry Burleigh
King Creole (1958) as Mr. Fisher
Smoke Jumpers (1958)
The Nun’s Story (1959) as Dr. Van Der Mal
The House on K-Street (1959 TV movie) as Dr. Morgan Jarrett
Cash McCall (1960) as Grant Austen
Elmer Gantry (1960) as William L. Morgan
Jarrett of K Street (1960 TV movie) as Dr. Morgan Jarrett
Static (The Twilight Zone) (1961) as Ed Lindsay
Parrish (1961) as Sala Post
The Honeymoon Machine (1961) as Admiral Fitch
Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962) as John Noble
The Star Juror (The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) (1963) as George Davies
First to Fight (1967) as Lt. Col. E.J. Baseman
Firecreek (1968) as Whittier
Day of the Evil Gun (1968) as Jimmy Noble
Smith! (1969) as Judge James C. Brown
The Lonely Profession (1969 TV movie) as Charles Van Cleve
Tiger by the Tail (1970) as Top Polk
The Kremlin Letter (1970) as Highwayman
The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970 TV movie) as Chad Harmon
Vanishing Point (1971) as Prospector
Incident in San Francisco (1971 TV movie) as Sam Baldwin
The Glass House (1972 TV movie) as Warden Auerbach
The Stranger (1973 TV movie) as Carl Webster
The Lie (1973 TV movie)
So Sad About Gloria (1973) as Frederick Wellman
I Heard the Owl Call My Name (1973 TV movie) as Bishop
The Hanged Man (1974 TV movie) as Josiah Lowe
The Great Lester Boggs (1974) as Grandfather Vandiver
The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976 TV movie) as Koehler
Evil Town (1977) as Doctor Schaeffer
End of the World (1977) as Collins
Game of Death (1978) as Dr. Land
Gideon’s Trumpet (1980 TV movie) as Sixth Supreme Court Justice
Alligator (1980) as Slade