Country Doctor: Starring Jean Hersholt

Daryl F. Zanuck, the powerful head of Twentieth Century-Fox, proposed to make a film about Dr. Dafoe, the famous Canadian physician who made history when he delivered the Dionne Quintuplets.

Dr. Dafoe was awarded the Order of the British Empire and became a celebrity overnight, but few people knew that his life had been quite tough, practicing medicine in a godforsaken place, Moosetown, a small lumber town.

Three movies, all starring Jean Hersholt as Dr. Dafoe (called in the film John Luke) exploited the Dionne Quintuplets episode. The first (and best), The Country Doctor” (1936), chronicles Dr. Luke’s fight over the issue of building a new hospital.

The enormous success of The Country Doctor” series motivated a rival studio, RKO, to make its own series, Dr. Christian,” also starring Jean Hersholt, thus making him the most popular doctor in Hollywood’s history. The series was first aired on the radio in 1937, and it outlived the popularity of the film series, running until 1953. Set in Rivers End, Minnesota, six movies were made, beginning with Meet Dr. Christian” (1937).

In the 1950s, Dr. Christian” was made into a popular television series, starring MacDonald Carey.