|Born||in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Died||in Hesperia, California, USA (pulmonary disease)|
|Birth Name||Reginald Thomas Kirkwood|
|Height||6' 1" (1.85 m)|
Mini Bio (1)
Best remembered as strapping comic strip boxer Joe Palooka on screen in the late 1940s and early 1950s, fair-haired, amiable-looking, exceedingly athletic Joe Kirkwood, Jr. may have been the son of renowned professional golfer and trick artist Joe Kirkwood, but he was actually born Reginald Thomas Kirkwood on May 30, 1920 in Melbourne, Australia, the second of two sons. His father eventually took young Reginald and older brother Donald to the United States to live where they settled in Philadelphia for a time before moving to Florida. Joe eventually boarded at a military academy in Georgia where he excelled in sports, including golf, tennis, swimming and boxing. It was at this juncture that he started to win sports tournaments himself and decided to bill himself "Joe Kirkwood, Jr." in honor of his famous father.
Despite his sports capabilities, Joe Jr. suffered from asthma and high blood pressure and, after joining the Army in 1943, was medically discharged 8 months into his tour of duty. A year later he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force but was released again for the same disabilities.
While performing in a Los Angeles golf tournament, the handsome sportsman was noticed by director David Butler and was given a Warner Bros. screen test and signed. Not much happened and, after a few uncredited parts in such movies as Night and Day (1946), he was released. Later when Monogram had a nationwide search for someone to play their lead comic strip role of wholesome boxer Joe Palooka, they found what they were looking for in fresh-faced, handsome Joe, Jr. Co-starring comedy legend Leon Errol as his manager, 11 Palooka films were made between the years 1946 and 1951 with various actresses filming the role of Joe's girlfriend and later wife. An amateur boxer earlier, Joe did his own boxing stunts in the film. In between filming, Joe continued on the professional golfing circuit.
Following that series, little popped up outside of the Palooka association. In 1954 he starred and was associate producer of the TV series The Joe Palooka Story (1954). Real-life actress wife Cathy Downs played Palooka wife Anne in the series with Luis Van Rooten in the support role of Knobby. When the series went off the air, Downs filed for divorce claiming abandonment -- that he preferred golf over her. Kirkwood later began a long term relationship in 1968 with the much younger Joyce Woltz. It lasted and they later married in1980.
Other than a few jobs on radio, on TV and the film The Marriage-Go-Round (1961), he was now completely focused on his golf career. He later turned entrepreneur, investing smartly and buying land in the Los Angeles Valley area where he made an especially lucrative investment by building a golf course, restaurant and sports center. He later owned a bowling alley. Kirkwood died at age 86 in Hesperia, California, and is interred at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Apple Valley.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / firstname.lastname@example.org
|Joyce Ann Woltz||(1980 - 7 September 2006) ( his death)|
|Cathy Downs||(8 October 1949 - 24 December 1955) ( divorced)|