James Henderson "Jimmy" Finlayson (August 27, 1887 – October 9, 1953) was a Scottish-American actor who worked in both silent and sound comedies. Bald, with a fake moustache, Finlayson had many trademark comic mannerisms and is famous for his squinting, outrageous 'double take', fade away head reaction, and characteristic expression "D'oh!."
Born in Larbert
to parents Alexander and Isabella (Henderson) Finlayson , he attended George Watson's College
before dropping out of the University of Edinburgh
to pursue an acting career. He won the main role in the West End
production of Bunty Pulls the Strings
. He emigrated to the U.S.
in 1912 to reprise the role on Broadway
, and dropped out of a country-wide theatrical tour in 1916 to pursue a career in Hollywood
. He married Emily Gilbert in July 1919 (per IMDb). He starred in numerous Mack Sennett
-produced comedies, most notably as one of the original Keystone Kops
. As a freelance actor late in his career, he made some of his final films in the UK. He played bit parts in films like Foreign Correspondent
, To Be or Not to Be
and Royal Wedding
. He retired owing to illness many years before his death in 1953.
However, he is most remembered for his work with Hal Roach Studios. He played roles in 33 Laurel and Hardy films, usually as a villain or a person intent on getting revenge on the pair for getting in his way, especially in the films Big Business, and Way Out West. He also starred alongside Stan Laurel in 19 films, and opposite Oliver Hardy in five films before Laurel and Hardy were teamed together.
Fin's trademark mustache was a prop used mainly in Roach movies. In many of his non-Roach movies it was absent.
Jimmy's nickname was Fin because he played a character called Fin in The Bohemian Girl and one named Mickey Finn in Way Out West. However it was more likely just a truncated version of his surname.
Finlayson used the phrase "D'Oh!" (sometimes long and drawn out, sometimes short and clipped in the style later adopted by Homer Simpson
of The Simpsons
) in the Laurel and Hardy films, "Me and My Pal", "Our Relations" and many others. At that time the word "damn" was censored in American films. As "Damn!" was and is a very common expression, Finlayson replaced it with "D'Oh!" enabling "Damn!" to be suggested but never actually uttered.
Actor Dan Castellaneta, who provides the voice of Homer Simpson in The Simpsons, claims that Homer's catchphrase "D'oh!" was based on a very similar utterance used by Finlayson in the Laurel and Hardy films. This was confirmed by Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
(see also D'oh)
Finlayson died of a heart attack
on October 9, 1953.
- He once knocked himself out by putting too much effort into a double-take routine.
- In the book Our Gang by Leonard Maltin, about the Our Gang series, Maltin shows a picture with Roach staff member Robert McGowan and Jimmie Finlayson. Child actor Mary Kornman clings to McGowan; Jackie Condon, Joe Cobb, Allen "Farina" Hoskins, and Johnny Downs stand around Finlayson and fashion "Finsquints."