Donald Hughes

born: 23 November 1912
Manhattan, New York,
United States of America
died: 18 February 1974
Lake Side, Lake County, California,
United States of America
(age 62)

American child actor. The following research and bio comes from Jim Jarvis:

Donald Thomas Hughes (sometimes Thomas Donald) was born to Thomas J. Hughes and Elizabeth Loretta Cash in Manhattan, NYC.This is confirmed at Vitalsearch.com and his 1942 WWII Draft Card. The Dad was a professional golfer and golf instructor. Sometime between 1920 and 1922, the entire family moved to Los Angeles, CA. The family consists of Thomas J. (the Father), Loretta E. (the Mother), Donald T. (the Son) and Dorothy (the Daughter). In NYC in 1920, the Mom's sister, Dorothy Mantell was living with them. She was a stage and vaudeville actress but remained in NYC and years later married an entertainment impresario with a P.T. Barnum personality (my opinion).
Apparently, the parents separated by 1923 as they are at separate residences according to the LA City Directory. In November 1922, a theater in San Pedro put on a fashion show featuring "celebrities". The newspaper blurb said, "Dorothy and Donald Hughes, famous film kiddies, will model all children's wear......."

The 1924 LA City Directory has:
Loretta E. Hughes..........photo player......h. 420 W. 2nd St.
Donald T. Hughes..........photo player.......r. 420 W. 2nd St.
Dorothy Hughes...........photo player......r. 420 W. 2nd St.


The 1925 LA City Directory has:
Mrs. Loretta Hughes.....photoplayer.......h.1512 Maltman Ave.
Donald Hughes............photoplayer........r. 1512 Maltman Ave.
Dorothy Hughes..........photoplayer.........r. 1512 Maltman Ave.

By 1930, in LA, Donald is living with his Mom and sister; going to school and working as a gas station attendant. Oddly, the sister Dorothy, has records saying she was born in NYC, Denver and San Francisco. Unlike Donald, Vitalsearch.com does not show her in the NYC birth records. The Dad is in the census, NYC as a "married lodger" and working as a professional golfer.
In 1933, Donald was jailed for 6 months for writing and forging bad checks. This was a habit he couldn't break and was in and out of prison as a convicted felon and parole violator through at least 1959. He went to San Quentin Prison in 1939 and was released in 1941. He married Virginia Woodall in Hollywood (July 1943). She was a "Texas girl" who went to Hollywood to study acting and break into movies. They had a daughter in Houston, TX in 1944. There are indications that he was previously married to "Bernice Unknown" and divorced in CA in 1940 even though his 1943 marriage certificate says that was "his 1st marriage" and a "radio technician". In May of 1948 he was sent to Huntsville TX Prison for (you guessed it) writing bad checks: a 4 year sentence. This prison record says that his profession was "producer-public relations-radio announcer-writer". This fits with Nancy Lane's bio of Donald at Virginia's Findagrave site. She says:
"On July 31, 1943, in St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Hollywood, she married Thomas Donald Hughes, long associated with the screen and stage and at that time a sound man for the Columbia Broadcasting Stations. "
After an early release from Huntsville Prison in 1951, Donald migrated to Petaluma, CA. There, in 1959, he was sent to jail for (you guessed it) passing bad checks.

AUTHOR'S NOTES:There were several candidates for ANM's Donald Hughes who I eliminated. One fan magazine "answer man" column told readers that he was the son of leading actor, Lloyd Hughes. Yes, Lloyd had a son named Donald Hughes except he was born in 1926.
There was an actor and later set designer, Frank Elmo Hughes and his actress wife who had a son, Ralph Lawrence Hughes, born Jan. 1913. The parents divorced in 1920 and the Mom remarried in 1921 a man named "Edwards" who adopted Ralph and he became Ralph Lawrence Edwards. In 1922 they moved to Seattle, WA for a few years and were back in CA by the 1930 Census. This is the 5% "un-confidence" as I can't conclusively show that this "kid" was not in LA during the time Donald Hughes was making films, but he would have had to take the name "Donald" for acting purposes and I don't find any references to him or his Step-dad related to any part of the entertainment industry. (Although at age 17, Ralph worked as an usher at a theater while going to school, if that counts?)
In 1931, there was a Donald Hughes acting "kid" parts on radio in LA. He was born about 1920 and I couldn't find any reference to him in movies.
Real name: Donald Thomas Hughes
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.

5


1923
The Big Show!
Harold Lloyd impersonator

1923
Derby Day
Boy

1924
Tire Trouble
Boy

1924
Commencement Day
Boy

1925
Better Movies
Boy

Acknowledgements & sources:
"U.S. Draft Cards, WWII Young Men, 1940-1947" at Ancestry.com : reg. 1942 Nov. 23: no profession: his Mom's address: probably in prison)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPHL-W31 (1974 death: CA Death Index)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JBQF-G6X (1974 death: Social Security Death Index)
https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=SPNP19221111.2.94&srpos=2&e=-------en--20--1-byDA-txt-txIN-%22donald+hughes%22-------1 (1922 "famous film kiddies": Dorothy and Donald Hughes)
https://rescarta.lapl.org/ResCarta-Web/jsp/RcWebSimpleSearch.jsp;jsessionid=9947F5CEA1473115FB5305918E19416B (1923-1925 LA Dir)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/636013070/?terms=%22dorothy%2Bmantell%22 (1936 Dorothy Mantell and husband)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MJB6-1VZ (1920 Census NYC: Donald and family & actress aunt Dorothy Mantell)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XC8Q-JF7 (1930 C LA: Donald T. is going to school and working as a gas station attendant: 3504 Glenhurst St)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9WY-H1G (1940 C CA: Donald is in San Quentin Prison)
San Quentin State Prison Register, 1938-1942 at Ancestry.com 1939 Jan: Violate probation: forgery: bad checks)
https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?dbid=2143&h=233747&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=2238 (1949 profession: radio announcer, etc.)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/625567637/?terms=%22donald%2Bt.%2Bhughes%22 (1959 Nov: "Mendocino Beacon": to prison again)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/14811368 (Nancy Lane's bio of Donald)
Jim Jarvis (detailed research)
Drina Mohacsi (identification in the Our Gang films)
Matthew Lydick (information)

This page was last updated on: 23 May 2020