Rotund comic character actor of American films. Born Andrew Vabre Devine in Flagstaff, Arizona, he was raised in nearby Kingman, Arizona, the son of Irish-American hotel operator Thomas Devine and his wife Amy. Devine was an able athlete as a student and actually played semi-pro football under a phony name (Jeremiah Schwartz, often erroneously presumed to be his real name). Devine used the false name in order to remain eligible for college football. A successful football player at St. Mary & St. Benedict College, Arizona State Teacher’s College, and Santa Clara University, Devine went to Hollywood with dreams of becoming an actor. After a number of small roles in silent films, he was given a good part in the talkie The Spirit of Notre Dame (1931) in part due to his fine record as a football player. His sound-film career seemed at risk due to his severely raspy voice, the result of a childhood injury. His voice, however, soon became his trademark, and he spent the next forty-five years becoming an increasingly popular and beloved comic figure in a wide variety of films. In the 1950s, his fame grew enormously with his co-starring role as Jingles opposite Guy Madison’s Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1951), on television and radio simultaneously. In 1955, before the Hickok series ended, Devine took over the hosting job on a children’s show retitled Andy’s Gang (1955), in which he gained new fans among the very young. He continued active in films until his death in 1977. He was survived by his wife and two sons.
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