Jerome Cowan



  • Birth Name: Jerome Palmer Cowan
  • Date of Birth: 6 October 1897
  • Place Of Birth:  New York City, New York, USA
  • Height: 6' (1.83 m)


Jerome Cowan was one of Hollywood’s most prolific and instantly recognisable character actors. His trademark pencil-thin moustache and slicked back hair, immaculate suits and sophisticated manner were his stock-in-trade for impersonating an assortment of rejected husbands, shifty politicians, lawyers and shady detectives. He also excelled at delivering snappy repartee and witty or barbed one-liners which were typical of the gritty Warner Brothers films of the 1930’s and 40’s. Straight out of high school, Jerome began to work his way up through stock companies and burlesque, making his debut on Broadway in the 1923 comedy ‘We’ve Got to Have Money’. On the strength of his most successful stage performance in ‘Boy Meets Girl’ (1935-37), he was contracted by producer Samuel Goldwyn to appear in Beloved Enemy (1936) as an Irish patriot. Several films later, he found his niche as the dapper sophisticate with attitude, in films like There’s Always a Woman (1938), as Nick Shane, Torrid Zone (1940), Crime by Night (1944) – a rare leading role as private eye Sam Campbell; and Mr. Skeffington (1944), as Bette Davis’s ex. He was the short-lived partner, Miles Archer, to Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941), a nervous informer in Riff-Raff (1947) and the district attorney who fails to indict Chris Cringle in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). Add to that several well-acted gangsters (Frisco Lil (1942), Fog Island (1945), Deadline for Murder (1946), to mention a few) and some unexpected comedy, particularly as Dagwood’s boss George Radcliffe in the Blondie (1957) series. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Cowan adapted perfectly to the medium of television and became a regular on several shows, alternating drama with comedy, from Perry Mason (1957)to The Munsters (1964). He gave a short, but poignant performance opposite Ida Lupino in ‘The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine’, a 1959 episode of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone (1959), as an unrecognisably aged former matinee idol.