September 19, 1888
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
October 6, 1953
Los Angeles, California, United States
Actor, Steel mill worker
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Cincinnati native Porter Hall made a name for himself by almost exclusively portraying evil, low-life characters in the 1930s and 1940s. While he was a gentle-mannered, church-going man in real life, Hall did very well for himself with his bad-guy image, aided in no small part by his bug-eyes and cold exterior. He originally mastered his acting chops on the theater stage, but it wasn't long before Hall made his way to the bright lights of Hollywood, debuting on-screen with two uncredited 1931 roles in the George Abbott-directed dramas "Secrets of a Secretary" and "The Cheat." He eventually graduated to side roles in films like the 1936 Cecile B. DeMille western, "The Plainsman," but Hall truly broke out in the late '30s, particularly with a role as Senator Martin Monroe in the 1939 James Stewart-starring courtroom drama, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Though Hall always found work playing side characters, never fully moving to leading man status, he became a reliable character presence throughout the 1940s and 1950s, popping up in many high-profile pictures, including the 1940 Howard Hawks screwball comedy, "His Girl Friday," the 1944 Billy Wilder film noir, "Double Indemnity," and George Seaton's 1947 Christmas feel-good film, "Miracle on 34th Street."