Hollywood Remains to Be Seen

Jack Oakie
1903 - 1978

Forest Lawn Glendale

Jack Oakie was a popular comedian and master of the "double take" in nearly 100 films.

Oakie was raised in Oklahoma, and took his name from the common nickname for residents of that state. He moved to New York City, attended business school, and worked as a telephone clerk at a brokerage house on Wall Street. After performing in a company show, he was encouraged to turn professional, and he made his stage debut as a dancer on Broadway in George M. Cohan's "Little Nellie Kelly" in 1922. Oakie made his film debut the following year, with a small role in "His Children's Children" (1923). Oakie worked steadily through the 1920s and 1930s, often in supporting roles as the slow-witted, happy-go-lucky buffoon, in films including "Million Dollar Legs" (1932), "If I Had a Million" (1932), "The Eagle and the Hawk" (1933), "Alice in Wonderland" (1933), "The Call of the Wild" (1935), "The Toast of New York" (1937) and "The Affairs of Annabel" (1938). Though he played primarily supporting roles in comedies and musicals, he usually stole the scene from whoever he shared the screen with.

Oakie is perhaps best remembered for his performance as Napaloni, the dictator of Bacteria, in Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" (1940). Oakie's performance, a stinging parody of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, won him his only Academy Award nomination, as Best Supporting Actor. Oakie went into semi-retirement in the early 1960s, but continued to make guest appearances on television.

Oakie's grave marker identifies him as "Lewis Delaney Offield, also known as Jack Oakie," with this epitaph: "In a simple double-take, thou hast more than voice e'er spake; When you hear laughter that wonderful sound, you know that Jack Oakie's around."

Oakie was born Lewis Delaney Offield on Nov. 12, 1903, in Sedalia, MO. He died Jan. 23, 1978, in Northridge, CA.

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