Francis Thomas Sullivan[citation needed ] (June 17, 1908[citation needed ] – December 17, 1975), known professionally as Frank Sully, was an American film actor. He appeared in over 240 films between 1934 and 1968. Today's audiences know him best as the dumb detective in the Boston Blackie features, and as the foil in many Three Stooges comedies.
After working on the vaudeville stage,[citation needed ] Sully entered the film industry in 1934. He played small parts and bits for several years at various studios, usually as tough guys. Gradually he was cast in higher-budgeted features, including Another Thin Man (1939) where Sully plays one of Nick Charles's streetwise pals, and John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940) with Sully cast as Noah Joad, whose family treks across America for a new life.
Sully's first major role came in 1941 for Monogram Pictures, a "budget" studio that often gave opportunities to ambitious actors. In the Frankie Darro campus comedy Let's Go Collegiate, Sully was featured as a dumb truck driver recruited to masquerade as a star athlete. The role gave Sully good exposure, and the actor received excellent notices. The Exhibitor noted that "Sully takes acting honors, with Darro, (Keye) Luke, and (Jackie) Moran very good in their roles."
In 1942 Sully signed with Columbia Pictures. The studio had a company policy of casting its contract players in as many films as possible, regardless of class or budget, and Sully kept busy in dozens of Columbia's feature films, series comedies, westerns, and short subjects. When the studio's series of Boston Blackie comedy-mysteries needed a new sidekick for detective inspector Farraday (Richard Lane), Sully was recruited and remained in the role of the slow-witted "Matthews" until the end of the series in 1949.
In 1943 Sully began working in Columbia's two-reel comedy unit, where he remained a familiar presence off and on through 1957. He supported star comedians Hugh Herbert, Vera Vague, Slim Summerville, Wally Vernon and Eddie Quillan, Joe Besser, and most memorably The Three Stooges. Sully is featured in such Stooge comedies as Fling in the Ring, Pardon My Backfire, and Guns a Poppin!. He is most prominent in A Merry Mix Up as the bewildered waiter who thinks he's seeing triple; Sully also narrates the film.
In addition to his film work, Sully also had bit parts in several television shows. Credits include Maverick, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Leave It to Beaver, I Love Lucy and The Beverly Hillbillies and "Charley" on Topper. Sully also had a recurring role as Danny the bartender on The Virginian.
Sully died on December 17, 1975, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Long Beach, California.[citation needed ]
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