Donald O'Connor (August 28, 1925 - September 27, 2003) was a singer, dancer and actor who came to fame in a series of movies in which he co-starred with Francis the Talking Mule. He is still best known for his performance in the movie musical Singin' in the Rain, in which he performed the vaudeville-inspired comedy number "Make 'Em Laugh", written for the movie by lyricist and producer Arthur Freed.
O'Connor was born in Chicago, Illinois, into an Irish immigrant family of vaudeville entertainers. As a toddler, he and his sister were involved in a road accident, which resulted in her death. His father died of a heart attack only a few weeks later. Yet it was as a comedy actor and a song-and-dance man that he became famous. His boyish looks did not allow him to take a romantic lead, except when appearing with a bigger star such as Ethel Merman (in Call Me Madam) or Bing Crosby (with whom he appeared in his first film at the age of eleven). However, he did have a separate Hollywood career in the late 1930s, in which he played such incongruous roles as Beau Geste. During World War II, he was re-invented as a star of musical films.
When the heyday of the film musical was over, O'Connor returned to the stage, and had a short-lived television series during the late 1960s. After overcoming a drinking problem in the 1970s, he continued to make film and television appearances into the 1990s. O'Connor was still making public appearances well into 2003. One of the last known on camera interviews with Donald O'Connor was arranged by friend David Ruprecht and conducted by Steven F. Zambo. A small portion of this interview can be seen in the 2005 PBS' special The Pioneers of Primetime.
Among his last words, he is reported to have expressed thanks for the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement which he expected to win at some future date. He left behind his wife, Gloria, and four children.
Donald O'Connor is buried in the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.