The Irish Mafia (Pat O'Brien, Frank McHugh, Ralph Bellamy, Spencer Tracy)


In the late 1930's a small group of actor friends began to meet together to converse and to exchange opinions and stories. Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky dubbed them the "Irish Mafia", but they preferred to call their group the "Boy's Club". The original members of the club were Frank McHugh, James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, and Spencer Tracy, all of whom were Irish-Americans hence the name Irish Mafia. Later Lynne Overman was added to their group and then Ralph Bellamy and Frank Morgan. They also had occasional guest of Bert Lahr, Lou Calhern, and Jimmy Gleason. They would all get together to talk and laugh, and they would occasionally use the group as a sounding board to discuss ideas about their latest movies. By the mid-forties the group began to break up. First, Lynne Overman died and then Frank Morgan. McHugh went back East eventually settling in Connecticut. Bellamy went back to New York, and Cagney eventually headed East also. Tracy and O'Brien remained in California, but O'Brien was often away traveling in one-man acts and road shows. Even so many of the members kept in contact by telephone and occasional meetings. Tracy passed away in 1967. McHugh, O'Brien, and Cagney all passed away in the eighties. Bellamy, the last of the group, died in 1991.

Angels with Dirty Faces Poster with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien


James Cagney


James Cagney (1899-1986)

Irish Meter: 0%
75% (He had a Norwegian grandfather)
James Cagney is now a legend in motion picture history. He is often remembered for his tough guy gangster roles. This characterization, however, was far from his real personality. His friends knew him to be a kind, quiet, reserved man, but a man who would take no nonsense. His most famous roles were those of Tom Powers in The Public Enemy, Rocky Sullivan in Angels with Dirty Faces , George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Cody Jarrett in White Heat.

Pat O'Brien as Knute Rockne


Pat O'Brien (1899-1983)

Irish Meter: 0%
100% (Cork and Galway)
Longtime known as Hollywood's Irishman in residence, Pat O'Brien is best known for his roles as Irishmen, priests, reporters, and football coaches. He started his career playing a series of egotistical smart alecs and tough guys and later progressed to playing holy Catholic types. He was always out going and friendly, and he was known as a good conversationalist and story teller. His close friend Jimmy Cagney described him as "always the life of the party". O'Brien's best known roles are those of Hildy Johnson in The Front Page , Father Jerry Connolly in Angels with Dirty Faces , Father Francis Duffy in The Fighting 69th , and Knute Rockne in Knute Rockne: All American.

Spencer Tracy


Spencer Tracy (1900-1967)

Irish Meter: 0%
50% (His mother was of English descent)
Spencer Tracy is considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of all time. He worked well in both comedy and drama, and he seemed to act each scene with ease and authenticity. He is often best remembered for his films with great classic actress Katharine Hepburn. Some of his most famous films are Captains Courageous, Adam's Rib, Boy's Town, and Father of the Bride.

Frank McHugh

"Little Frank"

Frank McHugh (1898-1981)

Irish Meter: 0%
100% (???)
Frank McHugh is often remembered for his comic relief and character roles. He was born in Pennsylvania into a large family of actors, including his brother Matt, his father Cutie, and his sister Kitty. His most famous role was that of Father Timothy O'Dowd in Going My Way. Other of his more popular film roles were in The Front Page, Here Comes the Navy, The Irish in Us, The Fighting 69th, 'Til We Meet Again, Mighty Joe Young, and The Last Hurrah.

Frank Morgan

"Big Frank"

Frank Morgan (1890-1949)

Irish Meter: 0%
0% (He was of German descendency)
Real name: Francis Wuppermann
Born: New York, New York
Died: Los Angeles, California
Frank Morgan is well remembered for his many character roles. He was born into the large family of a New York manufacturers in 1890, and at the age of twenty-four he became an actor. He started out acting on the stage and in 1916 he debuted in his first movie, The Girl Philippa. One of his brothers, Ralph, was also a notable actor. Frank Morgan acted in many different roles throughout the course of his career, but he is most remembered for his role as the wizard in The Wizard of Oz.

Ralph Bellamy


Ralph Bellamy (1904-1991)

Irish Meter: 0%
0% (He was of English/French descendency)
Full name: Ralph Rexford Bellamy
Born: Chicago, Illinois
Died: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California
Ralph Bellamy is most remembered for his role as President Franklin Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello. He is remembered more recently for his roles in Trading Places and Coming to America.

Lynne Overman


Lynne Overman (1887-1943)

Irish Meter: 0%
0% (He was of Scandinavian descendency)
Born: Maryville, Missouri
Died: Santa Monica, California
Lynne Overman is remembered for various character roles and bit parts in several movies. Unlike most of the other members of the Irish Mafia, he worked for Paramount Pictures and not Warner Brothers.

Little Frank and Bing Crosby in Going My Way Big Frank in The Wizard of Oz
Bing Crosby and "Little Frank" in Going My Way "Big Frank" in The Wizard of Oz


James Cagney-Pat O'Brien movies

  • Here Comes the Navy (1934)
  • Devil Dogs of the Air (1935)
  • Ceiling Zero (1935)
  • The Irish in Us (1935)
  • Boy Meets Girl (1938)
  • Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
  • Torrid Zone (1940)
  • The Fighting 69th (1940)
  • Ragtime (1981)

  • James Cagney-Frank McHugh movies

  • The Crowd Roars (1932)
  • Footlight Parade (1933)
  • Here Comes the Navy (1934)
  • Devil Dogs of the Air (1935)
  • The Irish in Us (1935)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
  • A Dream Comes True (1935)
  • Boy Meets Girl (1938)
  • The Roaring Twenties (1939)
  • The Fighting 69th (1940)
  • City for Conquest (1940)
  • A Lion is in the Streets (1953)

  • James Cagney-Ralph Bellamy movies

  • Picture Snatcher (1933)
  • Boy Meets Girl (1938)

  • Frank McHugh-Frank Morgan movies

  • Sunday Night at the Trocadero (1938)

  • Pat O'Brien-Frank McHugh movies

  • The Front Page (1931)
  • Here Comes the Navy (1934)
  • Devil Dogs of the Air (1935)
  • The Irish in Us (1935)
  • Page Miss Glory (1935)
  • Stars Over Broadway (1935)
  • Submarine D-1 (1937)
  • Boy Meets Girl (1938)
  • Indianapolis Speedway (1939)
  • 'Til We Meet Again (1940)
  • The Fighting 69th (1940)
  • Marine Raiders (1944)
  • The Last Hurrah (1958)

  • Pat O'Brien-Ralph Bellamy movies

  • Air Mail (1932)
  • Destination Unknown (1933)
  • Boy Meets Girl (1938)

  • Pat O'Brien-Frank Morgan movies

  • Bombshell (1933)

  • Pat O'Brien-Spencer Tracy movies

  • The People Against O'Hara (1951)
  • The Last Hurrah (1935)

  • Spencer Tracy-James Cagney movies

  • Hollywood Hobbies (1934) -short-

  • Spencer Tracy-Frank McHugh movies

  • The Last Hurrah (1958)

  • Spencer Tracy-Frank Morgan movies

  • Boom Town (1940)
  • Tortilla Flat (1942)

  • Spencer Tracy-Ralph Bellamy movies

  • Disorderly Conduct (1932)
  • Young America (1932)

  • Spencer Tracy-Lynne Overman movies

  • Edison, the Man (1940)

  • His Girl Friday Poster with Ralph Bellamy
    Cary Grant, Rosilin Russel, and Ralph Bellamy in His Girl Friday

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