April 9, 1900
Allen Curtis Jenkins was born Alfred McGonegal on Staten Island, New York, on April 9, 1900. He studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In his first stage appearance, he danced next to James Cagney in a chorus line for an off-Broadway musical called Pitter-Patter, earning five dollars a week. He also appeared in eight Broadway plays between 1923 and 1962, including The Front Page (1928). His big break came when he replaced Spencer Tracy for three weeks in the Broadway play The Last Mile. He originated the character of Frankie Wells in the Broadway production of Blessed Event and reprised the role in the 1932 film adaptation.
Jenkins was called to Hollywood by Darryl F. Zanuck and signed first to Paramount Pictures and shortly afterward to Warner Bros. His first role in films came in 1931, when he appeared as an ex-convict in the short Straight and Narrow. Jenkins was labeled “the greatest scene-stealer of the 1930s” by the The New York Times. He was in 42nd Street (1933), Pillow Talk (1959), and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).
In 1939 he appeared with Lucille Ball in the film Five Came Back.
He made his television debut in a November 1952 episode of “Racket Squad”.
He was seen in three episodes of “I Love Lucy,” all as policemen. “New Neighbors” (ILL S1;E21) was filmed on January 25, 1952 and aired on March 3, 1952. Jenkins plays the officer who nearly gets his head blown off by the Ricardos and Mertzes home militia. He’s also the one who lets them out of jail when it is revealed that the new neighbors aren’t dangerous spies, but actors!
In “Ricky and Fred are TV Fans” (ILL S2;E30), filmed on May 22, 1953, and first aired on June 22, 1953, he played Officer Jenkins (badge #585) who discovers Lucy about to cut the wires to the apartment building. When they get away, he finds them with their hand in the till at the corner diner. He ends up hauling them down to the station to face Sergeant Nelson.
Finally, in “Too Many Crooks” (ILL S4;E23) filmed on October 29, 1953, and aired on November 30, 1953 he was investigating Madame X. Lucy thinks it’s is Ethel, and Ethel thinks it’s Lucy.
Jenkins later voiced the character of Officer Charlie Dibble on the Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon, “Top Cat” (1961–62).
He appeared on one episode of Desilu’s “The Real McCoys” in October 1962. He also did an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show” in January 1964, filmed on the Desilu lot.
Coincidentally, his final screen role was an appearance in the remake of The Front Page starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon in 1974.
Jenkins publicized his own alcoholism and was the first actor to speak in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate about it. He was involved in beginning the first Alcoholics Anonymous programs in California prisons for women.
He was married to Mary Landee from 1931 to 1962 when they divorced. They had three children.
Allen Jenkins died on July 20, 1974 after undergoing surgery.