Prior to becoming Ayn Rand’s husband, Charles Francis “Frank” O’Connor had embarked upon an acting career, and continued to pursue and accept movie roles until the couple had been married nearly five years. Summer stock would follow, after which this Frank O’Connor would end that part of his life.
Here listed are as many films of his as have ever been listed in one place:
ORPHANS OF THE STORM (1922)
Directed by D.W. Griffith; with Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish. Frank is one of four people standing together at an elegant party about one-fifth into the movie.
THE KING OF KINGS (DeMille, 1927)
with H.B. Warner, Dorothy Cumming, Ernst Torrence, Joseph Schildkraut, and (in a bit part as slave to Mary Magdalene) Sally Rand.1 Frank--along with his future wife--is in the crowd of the procession occurring when Christ is carried on a cross.
SHADOW OF THE LAW (Paramount, 1930)
with William Powell, Natalie Moorhead, Regis Toomey. Frank is not among the billed players.
CIMARRON (RKO, 1931)
with Richard Dix, Irene Dunne. Frank is at a dinner table.
LADIES’ MAN (Paramount, 1931)
with William Powell, Kay Francis, Carole Lombard. Frank was billed 15th as News Clerk.
THREE ON A MATCH (Warner Bros., 1932)
with Bette Davis, Ann Dvorak, Joan Blondell, Warren William, Humphrey Bogart, Lyle Talbot. Frank was unbilled as a telegraph operator whose smiling face remains on screen at length during the montage which takes the story from 1919 to 1932.
HANDLE WITH CARE (FOX, December 1932)
with James Dunn and El Brendel. Frank is a police lieutenant.
GOOD-BYE LOVE (RKO, 1933)
with Luis Alberni, Phyllis Barry, Sidney Blackmer, and (6th) Mayo Methot. Frank played False Dept. of Justice agent.
SON OF KONG (RKO, 1933)
with Robert Armstrong, Helen Mack and a new miniature ape. Frank is listed 19th as the first process server; he’s one of two, the one not referred to by name as “Mickey.”
AFTER TONIGHT (RKO, 1933); film also known as “Sealed
with Constance Bennett, Gilbert Roland, and (billed 6th) Mischa Auer. Frank, billed as Officer on train, was not among the top nine members of the cast.
THE DEATH KISS (KBS, 1933)
with Bela Lugosi, David Manners. Frank's role is not among those specified in the credits.
TILLIE AND GUS (Paramount, 1933)
with W.C. Fields, Alison Skipwood, Baby LeRoy. Role information not at hand.
AS HUSBANDS GO (FOX, January 1934)
with Warner Baxter, Vivian Vinson, and Warner Oland. Frank is billed fourth, as Jake Canon, among the seven credited cast members. (Despite this being a 1934 release, this movie has been named among Frank’s credits in an authorized biography of his wife.)
The remaining credits are in question, for reasons explained shortly:
YOU’RE TELLING ME (Paramount, 1934)
with W.C. Fields, Joan Marsh, Buster Crabbe and Kathleen Howard. Frank is listed 22nd on the official cast list as a cop.
MEN OF THE NIGHT (Columbia, 1934)
with Bruce Cabot, Judith Allen, Ward Bond. Frank is boss painter, a small role.
WHIRLPOOL (Columbia, 1934)
with Jack Holt, Jean Arthur, Donald Cook and Allen Jenkins. Frank has an uncredited role as sheriff.
HIDE-OUT (MGM, 1934)
with Robert Montgomery, Maureen O’Sullivan and Edward Arnold. Frank is a policeman.
For the year 1934, film credits for “Frank O’Connor” are not necessarily for the man who was Ayn Rand’s husband. Another Frank O’Connor, one who had been a director during the 1920s (and an assistant director ca. 1919) turned from directing to acting and continued to find employment as an actor into the 1950s, almost to the time of his death in 1959. The many film credits one finds for “Frank O’Connor” in these later years are for this other man.
Frank and Ayn moved to New York at about this time and consequently Frank was not in Hollywood to take the bit roles he had been taking. Muddying the waters for researchers is that the two Frank O’Connors bear a striking resemblance to one another during the years when Ayn’s husband may have been willing to accept the ready money of any acting offers that may have come his way. By the late 1940s and particularly in the 1950s, the two Frank O’Connors ceased to resemble one another, the former director having developed a puffy face whereas Ayn’s husband continued to sport a gaunt appearance. Nonetheless, the quick shots of this other Frank O’Connor in his roles as security guards, police officers, and Western lawmen in many serials and shoot-em-ups, are often so quick as to not dispel any latent wonder as to whether it is Ayn Rand’s husband on the screen. Richard Ralston, biographer of Ayn Rand for a forthcoming book, has researched this topic and states that the Frank O’Connor who was Ayn Rand’s husband turned his back on film acting in 1934 and did not return to the screen.
For the sake of completeness, the following title is mentioned
because it has shown up on lists of Frank’s films:
FREAKS (MGM, 1932); film also known as “Nature’s Mistakes” and “Monster Show.”
This film has a “Frances O’Connor”--an armless girl!
1. The Sally Rand here is the same who achieved notoriety as a
fan dancer. She has no known relationship to Ayn Rand,
neither woman having started life with that surname. Sally
Rand had worked for DeMille before, yet it was he who suggested
that she adopt “Rand” as her professional name.
Although Ayn Rand had chosen her pseudonym prior to beginning
work for DeMille, it is coincidental that DeMille was the first
to provide movie work to these two women who would each
achieve prominence and neither of whom had the name
“Rand” until each chose to adopt it.
This page © 1998 David P. Hayes
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