Don Barclay (actor)

Don Barclay
Born Donn Van Tassel Barclay
(1892-12-26)December 26, 1892
Ashland, Oregon, U.S.
Died October 16, 1975(1975-10-16) (aged 82)
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
Resting place California
Occupation Actor, artist, caricaturist
Years active 1915–1964

Don Barclay (December 26, 1892 – October 16, 1975) was an American actor, artist and caricaturist whose many roles stretched the period from the Keystone Cops in 1915 to Mary Poppins in 1964 and whose many paintings and caricatures of celebrities filled establishments worldwide and are archived in the Library of Congress.

The more experienced comedian, Don Barclay helped and later became roommates with a rookie actor in Bristol, England named Archie Leech. Barclay and Leech developed a two-man comedy show together in New York. Leech later became better known as Cary Grant and Grant rejoined Barclay beginning in 1920 in New York and Hollywood where they were often roommates. They remained lifelong best friends.[1]

Barclay portrayed hundreds of roles on films and voices for Walt Disney who considered Barclay a good luck charm.[2] He is perhaps most recognized now for his portrayal of Admiral Boom's first mate, Mr. Binnacle[3] in the Disney family film Mary Poppins. His character was a former naval officer and next door neighbor to the Banks family.

Barclay eventually became such a successful caricature painter of celebrities on his sets that he eventually made more money as an artist than as an actor and left acting to become a full-time artist. He was prolific, turning out hundreds of caricatures of celebrities for saloons all over the nation as well as for servicemen in barracks.[4] Two examples of his painted caricatures featuring Bob Hope, "Old Four Eyes" [5] and "Bob Hope and Elf",[6] are featured on the official Library of Congress website devoted to Bob Hope (Old Four Eyes is mislabeled in attribution as "Dan Barclay" - "Bob Hope and Elf" is correctly attributed at the bottom of the LOC page).[7] Actress/Director Diane Keaton purchased a clown painting by Barclay which led to her collecting clown paintings and the publication of the book by the actress called "Clown Paintings".[8] Bob Hope collected a series of ceramic mugs featuring Frank Sinatra, Joan Crawford, Jimmy Durante and Lou Costello produced by Barclay based on Don Barclay's caricatures which were auctioned at Julien Estates auction of the Bob Hope Estate in Los Angeles.[9][10] Additional rare Barclay celebrity mug collection pieces were found at Hake's Americana & Collectibles [11] and are also included in the definitive Birnkrant Collection of Mickey Mouse & Comic Characters AKA "Mouse Heaven" collection made famous by a movie of the same name.[12]

During the time preceding World War II Barclay spent time with General Claire Lee Chennault's 14th AAF famous Flying Tigers unit (then known as the "China Blitzers") where he illustrated every person in the group.[13][14][15]

From October to November 1943, Barclay did a one-man USO show #302 for the troops; touring every base in North Africa, Arabia, India, and China with his act and drawing caricatures of the men as he went. When he later returned to China in 1945 he estimated he had drawn over 10,000 caricatures of servicemen.[16]

Selected filmography

Sketch by Barclay of film director Arthur Hotaling "explaining the gentle art of throwing a custard pie."


  1. Roommates with Cary Grant,.
  2. Walt Disneys good luck charm,.
  3. Averlyman Movie Screencature website featuring photo of Don Barclay as Mr. Binnacle and others,.
  5. Old Four Eyes,.
  6. Bob and Elf,.
  7. Faces of Bob Hope Library of Congress website exhibit,.
  8. Story of his work being purchased by Diane Keaton and the resultant book from Clown Paintings book description from Publishers Weekly at official Barnes and Noble Entry,.
  9. Don Barclay works auctioned at Julien Estates as part of the Bob Hope Estate,.
  10. Don Barclay works auctioned at Julien Estates as part of the Bob Hope Estate archived 2014 8 6,.
  11. Barclay celebrity mug collection at Hake's Americana,.
  12. Barclay celebrity mug collection at the famous Birnkrant Comic Characters Collection,.
  13. Image of historical document mentioning Don Barclay's visit to the Flying Tigers unit,.
  14. Fold3 actual image of Don Barclay in aircraft with famous Flying Tigers unit,.
  15. Fold3 image of Don Barclay sketching Flying Tigers unit members,.
  16. Don Barclay tours every base in Africa and China in one man USO show during the war,.

External links

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