Douglas McPhail (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 09, 2022

Good luck has been a constant companion to Douglas McPhail. His earliest ambition was to become a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company and he has always been able to do those things which would speed him on his way.

He was born in Los Angeles on April 16. His father was a salesman for one of the big oil companies. His mother fostered his yearning for music and encouraged him to accompany her to concerts and opera.

Before starting school, he traveled with his family to Sacramento, Portland, and Oakland. They finally settled in San Francisco where the boy attended grade school. When his father’s business brought them back to Los Angeles, he attended high school in Beverly Hills.

While there he was able to further his ambitions, for his parents secured a singing teacher for the youth, and at the same time he was able to indulge his love for the stage by taking part in school plays and attending all classes offered on the drama. He was manager of the high school track team.

Quit School for Travel

Graduating, he entered Santa Monica Junior College with the idea of preparing for the legal profession, his father’s desire. McPhail quit college at the end of his first year and shipped as seaman on a freighter bound for South America. He had been told that there was a demand for singers there.

He secured jobs singing in night clubs with American bands. Returning home, he continued voice study and secured small parts in light opera in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Between these, he was earning enough money to pay for his singing lessons by working as attendant in a service station.

Motion Picture Extra

Some of his friends persuaded him to join them as extra workers in pictures. Since this was allied to his ambition, he was easily persuaded to register as an extra.

His first job was in the chorus of “Born to Dance” at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This was followed by others, none of which promised anything in the way of fame, but all of which added fuel to the fire of his ambition.

When casting was being done for “May-Time,” he was given a bit part. This led to his big “break,” for, while working in the picture, he attracted the attention of Jeanette MacDonald, she being impressed with the quality of his voice. She encouraged him to continue studying and to add dramatic courses to his singing lessons.

He didn’t know that Miss MacDonald had praised his voice to studio executives, until he received a note requesting him to report for a screen and voice test.

Things then happened quickly. Jack Chertok, in charge of short subject production for M-G-M, was contemplating a series of miniature operettas.

Contract With M-G-M

His attention was called to McPhail. He looked at the screen test. Calling the youth, he signed him as leading man.

McPhail is six feet tall, weighs 170 pounds. He is a blonde, with curly hair. He has every chance to realize his ambition, for he will be doing the kind of work he loves.

His favorite sport is fishing and he often accompanies his father on mountain trips for trout. He also angles for fish of the deep sea variety.

He likes picture-making, too, but he still insists that he won’t be happy until he reaches the Metropolitan Opera Company.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937