OBITUARY: Jeffrey Lynn

Jeffrey Lynn was the tall, stalwart hero of many a Warner Brothers movie made during his seven-year contract span, which began in 1938 and was interrupted by war service. He never quite made it as a regular above- the-title star, but his good looks and sincere playing won him a place in the memories of all film fans of Hollywood's golden age.

He was born Ragnar Lind in 1909, in Auburn, Massachusetts, and took a BA degree from Bates College, Maine. The stage called, however, and he joined a New York stock company, touring in Brother Rat, a farce about three military school cadets and their flirty girlfriends. Curiously the play was bought and filmed by Warners, but without Lynn, despite the fact that they had tried him out in a Vitaphone short film. Instead he was given a small role in Cowboy From Brooklyn (1938), a Dick Powell musical in which the best song of a sorry bunch was Johnny Mercer's "Ride Tenderfoot Ride".

Lynn's manly presence registered well enough for Warners to award him a seven-year contract, and he was lucky to be cast in a strong supporting role in Four Daughters (1938). This excellent small-town soap opera starred Claude Rains as the musical father, the three Lane sisters (Rosemary, Lola and Priscilla) and Gale Page as the daughters, and a brilliant newcomer to films, John Garfield, as the shabby, self-pitying but fascinating drifter who upsets the hitherto happy family.

The film was Warners' hit of the season, and called for an immediate sequel. With the basic story exhausted (Sister Act, by Fanny Hurst), a new screenplay was contrived around the same cast, excluding Garfield's character who had "died". Entitled Daughters Courageous (1939), this sort- of sequel was another big success, with Lynn's role suitably enlarged. Warners, never the studio to retire quietly, promptly had the original film adapted once again and came up with Four Wives (1939). They followed this with a fourth film, Four Mothers (1940), each time Lynn's role becoming more central to the story.

Meanwhile Lynn was kept busy fulfilling his contract which in typical Warner style had him play supporting roles in big pictures - The Roaring Twenties (1939), with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart in Mark Hellinger's terrific gangster story - and top roles in "B" pictures. He was the star of The Body Disappears (1941), in which the eccentric Edward Everett Horton makes Jane Wyman's body disappear - literally. He invented invisibility!

In 1941 Lynn was voted as one of the Top Ten Stars of Tomorrow, an exhibitors' poll organised by the Motion Picture Herald. He came in seventh, just two places behind Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile his films grew in stature: he supported Bette Davis and Charles Boyer in All This and Heaven Too (1940) and finally attained top billing as co-star of Underground (1942) with Karen Verne.

This was a war film, and with the United States' entry into the Second World War, Lynn swiftly volunteered for service in the US Army Corps, where he was made a Special Intelligence Officer. He was discharged with the rank of Captain in 1946. His contract was not renewed by Warners, but he did return to the studio in 1949 to appear in Whiplash, a tough boxing film starring Dane Clark. Although he had plenty of film roles in the post-war years, including the all-star A Letter To Three Wives (1949), written and directed by Joseph J. Mankiewicz at Twentieth Century- Fox, it seemed as if Lynn's heroic heyday was over, at least as far as cinema went. He returned to the stage and starred in many plays, including Two for the Seasaw and a revival of Dinner at Eight.

The hungry new medium of television beckoned, however, and from 1960 Lynn played the part of a rich newspaper editor in a popular daytime serial, The Secret Storm. This live television soap opera ran for five years. Roles in other series followed, including parts in Barnaby Jones and Murder She Wrote, the Angela Lansbury series which made a point of bringing back former favourites in small supporting parts. His last major work was once again for the stage; he produced The Diary of Anne Frank at the Centre Theatre, Los Angeles, in 1986.

Denis Gifford

Ragnar Lind (Jeffrey Lynn), actor: born Auburn, Massachusetts 16 February 1906; thrice married (one son, one daughter); died Burbank, California 24 November 1995.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment