Dean Jagger was an Academy Award-winning character actor known for his firm but kindly demeanor in more than 150 films. Jagger won his Oscar as best supporting actor in the 1949 film "Twelve O'Clock High," a World War II character drama. Both the film itself and the lead actor, Gregory Peck, were nominated for Academy Awards, but Jagger was the film's only winner. The bald, 6-foot-2 actor also won an Emmy in 1979 for his performance on a religious television program, "This Is the Life."
Known for his paternal charm and warmth, Jagger joked about playing roles as "everybody's father," including the father of Audrey Hepburn in "The Nun's Story" and of Elvis Presley in "King Creole."
One of Jagger's best-known roles was inspired by his fatherly appeal: the beloved general in "White Christmas," the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby singing the Irving Berlin title classic. Jagger's sentimental portrayal inspires Crosby's character, Bob Wallace,"one of the general's former Army soldiers, to go to great lengths to save the general's Vermont inn from demise by filling it with soldiers from the general's former World War II division on Christmas eve.
Among Jagger's other films were "Wings in the Dark," "13 Hours by Air," "A Yank in London," "Rawhide," "The Robe," "Elmer Gantry," "Jumbo," "The Kremlin Letter" and "The Game of Death."
Born in Lima, Ohio, Jagger grew up on an Indiana farm and recalled reciting favorite verses to the cows as he milked. At 17, he taught elementary pupils in a rural school. He studied at Wabash College in Greencastle, Ind., but dropped out after two years and went to Chicago determined to become an actor. After studying at Chicago's Conservatory of Drama, he began his career in vaudeville and on stage in the 1920s. Jagger made his film debut in 1929 in one of the last silent films, "The Woman From Hell," starring Mary Astor.
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