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 James Nelson McDowell

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James Nelson McDowell

Birth
Greenfield, Dade County, Missouri, USA
Death
3 Nov 1947 (aged 77)
Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial
North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot
Block E, Section 4280, Lot 1
Memorial ID
145953192 View Source

James N. MacDowell was born in Greenville, Missouri on August 14, 1870, the son of Nelson B. and Annie Hampton MacDowell. The parents had one previous child, his older sister, named Helen. By 1880, he was living with his family in Leadville, Colorado. In the years following, he received a formal education at Leadville High School, and at Normal College in Fremont, Nebraska. He earned his A.B. and D.D.S. degrees from Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. Besides dentistry, his specialties were singing and elocution.

Mr. MacDowell was an actor who was sometimes billed as Louis Larue. He began his new career as an actor, instead of dentist, in 1917. A new career, a new name. Instead of Dr. James N. MacDowell you simply drop your first name, using your middle name Nelson, as your first name. Add a slight change, by dropping the ‘a’ from MacDowell to simply read McDowell.

He acted in shorts and features, and portrayed everything from sidekick, fur trapper, conductor, motorist, townsman, bailiff, sheriff, doctor, sea captain, and often as a deacon or parson, even as an undertaker or professor. A fair number of his film appearances were in Westerns. Many of his early films are lost, but much of his work is available to view on video and DVD. He stood six feet two inches tall, and weighed approximately 180 pounds, with brownish-gray hair, often with a drooping walrus mustache or mutton-chop sideburns.

Film historian, George A. Katchmer in Eighty Silent Film Stars (pg. 539, McFarland,
1991) put it in context. Nelson McDowell was a “character actor who, to most fans, was another face on the screen. This actor rated some statistics but no newspaper or magazine publicity releases.” Yet, he played in nearly two hundred films through the silent and sound eras. Like many, he played his share of uncredited roles in his early and later film career. His distinct features helped him stand out on film, even when he didn’t receive screen credit.

His later life was plagued by illness, which hampered his ability to appear in films. He became a caretaker of the building he resided in, located at 5302 Sunset Blvd, at the corner of North Hobart Street. His despondency over cancer led to him taking his own life, committing suicide using an Old Western six-shooter he had carried in so many of his films. He died at his home from a gunshot wound to the head, at the age of 77 years, on November 3, 1947.

Bio courtesy of Kevin Charbeneau

James N. MacDowell was born in Greenville, Missouri on August 14, 1870, the son of Nelson B. and Annie Hampton MacDowell. The parents had one previous child, his older sister, named Helen. By 1880, he was living with his family in Leadville, Colorado. In the years following, he received a formal education at Leadville High School, and at Normal College in Fremont, Nebraska. He earned his A.B. and D.D.S. degrees from Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. Besides dentistry, his specialties were singing and elocution.

Mr. MacDowell was an actor who was sometimes billed as Louis Larue. He began his new career as an actor, instead of dentist, in 1917. A new career, a new name. Instead of Dr. James N. MacDowell you simply drop your first name, using your middle name Nelson, as your first name. Add a slight change, by dropping the ‘a’ from MacDowell to simply read McDowell.

He acted in shorts and features, and portrayed everything from sidekick, fur trapper, conductor, motorist, townsman, bailiff, sheriff, doctor, sea captain, and often as a deacon or parson, even as an undertaker or professor. A fair number of his film appearances were in Westerns. Many of his early films are lost, but much of his work is available to view on video and DVD. He stood six feet two inches tall, and weighed approximately 180 pounds, with brownish-gray hair, often with a drooping walrus mustache or mutton-chop sideburns.

Film historian, George A. Katchmer in Eighty Silent Film Stars (pg. 539, McFarland,
1991) put it in context. Nelson McDowell was a “character actor who, to most fans, was another face on the screen. This actor rated some statistics but no newspaper or magazine publicity releases.” Yet, he played in nearly two hundred films through the silent and sound eras. Like many, he played his share of uncredited roles in his early and later film career. His distinct features helped him stand out on film, even when he didn’t receive screen credit.

His later life was plagued by illness, which hampered his ability to appear in films. He became a caretaker of the building he resided in, located at 5302 Sunset Blvd, at the corner of North Hobart Street. His despondency over cancer led to him taking his own life, committing suicide using an Old Western six-shooter he had carried in so many of his films. He died at his home from a gunshot wound to the head, at the age of 77 years, on November 3, 1947.

Bio courtesy of Kevin Charbeneau


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  • Created by: Scott G
  • Added: 2 May 2015
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 145953192
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/145953192/james-nelson-mcdowell: accessed ), memorial page for James Nelson McDowell (14 Aug 1870–3 Nov 1947), Find a Grave Memorial ID 145953192, citing Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA; Maintained by Scott G (contributor 453) .