Don DeFore was a popular American actor who starred in several sitcoms and movies in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. He is best known for his roles as the friendly neighbor Thorny in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and the harried employer Mr. B in Hazel. He was also a lifelong friend and supporter of Ronald Reagan, appearing with him in two films and campaigning for his presidential bid in 1976. But how did Don DeFore die? Here is what we know about his cause of death and the circumstances surrounding it.
Cardiac Arrest at 80
According to The Washington Post, Don DeFore died of cardiac arrest on December 22, 1993, at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. He was 80 years old at the time of his death. Cardiac arrest is a sudden and unexpected loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness, usually caused by an electrical disturbance in the heart that disrupts its pumping action. It can be triggered by various factors, such as heart disease, drug overdose, trauma, or severe blood loss. Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation to restore normal heart rhythm and blood flow. However, if not treated within minutes, it can result in death or permanent brain damage.
A Life Well Lived
Don DeFore was born on August 25, 1913, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Joseph Ervin DeFore and Albina Sylvia DeFore (née Nezerka). He was one of seven children and the only one to pursue an acting career. He attended the University of Iowa, where he initially studied law and played various sports before becoming interested in acting. He left the university and enrolled at the Pasadena Community Playhouse, where he won a scholarship and stayed for three years. He also wrote a play called Where Do We Go from Here? with four fellow students, which was later taken to Broadway by Oscar Hammerstein II.
DeFore made his film debut in 1936 with a bit part in Reunion. He went on to appear in many films, such as The Male Animal (1942), A Guy Named Joe (1943), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), Without Reservations (1946), It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947), Romance on the High Seas (1948), My Friend Irma (1949), and Jumping Jacks (1952). He also worked in radio, performing on such programs as Suspense, Old Gold Comedy Theater, and Lux Radio Theatre.
However, he achieved his greatest fame on television, where he played Thorny on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet from 1952 to 1957 and Mr. B on Hazel from 1961 to 1965. He earned a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his role as Thorny in 1955. He also appeared in other TV shows, such as The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Virginian, Love Boat, and Fantasy Island.
DeFore was married to Marion Holmes from 1942 until his death in 1993. They had five children: Penny, David, Ron, Dawn, and Autumn. He was also an active member of the Republican Party and a close friend of Ronald Reagan. He supported Reagan’s campaigns for governor of California and president of the United States. He was also the president of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences from 1954 to 1955.
DeFore was a well-respected and well-liked actor who brought joy and laughter to millions of viewers with his charming and humorous performances. He was also a devoted husband, father, friend, and citizen who contributed to his community and country. His death was a sad loss for his family, friends, fans, and colleagues. He is buried at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles.