Dane Clark was born Bernard Elliot Zanville in Brooklyn, New York City, to Rose (Korostoff) and Samuel Zanville, who were Russian Jewish immigrants. He graduated from Cornell University and St. John’s Law School (Brooklyn). When he had trouble finding work in the mid-1930s he tried boxing, baseball, construction, sales and modeling, among other jobs. From there he went into acting on Broadway (“Dead End”, “Stage Door”, “Of Mice and Men”), which finally brought him to Hollywood. He acted under his own name until 1943 when, as Dane Clark (a name he said was given him by Humphrey Bogart), he took the role of sailor Johnnie Pulaski in Warner’s Action in the North Atlantic (1943), a wartime tribute to the Merchant Marine. He was a regular in World War II movies, playing the part of a submariner in Destination Tokyo (1943), an airman in God Is My Co-Pilot (1945) and a Marine in Pride of the Marines (1945).
Though he co-starred with such luminaries as Bogart, Cary Grant, Bette Davis and Raymond Massey, it was his self-described “Joe Average” image that got him his parts: “They don’t go much for the ‘pretty boy’ type [at Warner Brothers]. An average-looking guy like me has a chance to get someplace, to portray people the way they really are, without any frills.” He was also proud of his role as Abe Saperstein, who founded the Harlem Globetrotters black basketball team, in Go Man Go (1954), a film he believed pioneered in opposing race hatred.
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