A native of Glasgow, Scotland, Donald Meek began his career on stage at the age of 8 in "Le Voyage en Suisse." He later moved to dramatic roles and toured Australia playing Little Lord Fauntleroy. All the while he was preparing himself for a career as a gymnast.
In 1894 he joined an acrobatic team as its top-mounter after the team lost his predecessor by death. Meek narrowly missed the same fate when he fell a short time later, escaping with four compound fractures.
He then gave up his acrobatic ambitions and turned to the legitimate stage. He played stock for 22 years.
His early stage career was interrupted by the Spanish-American War. The bald head that made him familiar to film fans resulted from a fever contracted during his service in Cuba. After being turned down for service by American forces in World War I, he joined Canadian forces, but never got further than Toronto, he later lamented.
His climb to success began a few years after the war when he appeared in a New York musical called "Going Up," which was followed by a leading role in the film "Of Thee I Sing." He appeared in more than 100 movies during his career.
He often played the milquetoast character, and only occasionally enacted the menace. His favorite roles were the Little Irishman in "The Informer" and the zany toymaker in "You Can't Take It With You." He also had a recurring role as Dr. Crabtree in a series of mystery shorts.
He completed "Magic Town," an RKO picture, shortly before his death.