Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hailing Mr. Jenkins

Born April 9, 1900, actor Allen Jenkins enjoyed a long and busy career playing variations on a theme. His instantly recognizable face can be seen in everything from Destry Rides Again (1939) to Pillow Talk (1959). When television came along, he adapted neatly to the new medium, appearing on popular shows like I Love Lucy, Ben Casey, Batman, and quite a few more. He continued to work until shortly before his death in 1974.

If the roles he was offered tended to follow a particular pattern, Jenkins took it in stride. He said, "Typecasting has been my bread and butter since I got started in this business ... I've played nothing but mugs -- a few sympathetic sorts, but always mugs ... I've been enough different taxi drivers in movies and on TV to man a whole New York cab fleet."

Jeannie Carson and Allen Jenkins in Hey, Jeannie!
One of those rough-hewn yet likable cab drivers was Al Murray, his featured role in the CBS comedy series Hey, Jeannie! (CBS, 1956-57). Supporting musical comedy performer Jeannie Carson, Jenkins teamed with Jane Dulo as a brother-sister pair who took in a young immigrant newly arrived in the U.S. You can read more about that often overlooked show in Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television.

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