Once Canadian-born actor Jonathan Hale became well known for his portrayal of well-to-do businessmen, he was fond of telling the story of how he'd almost been a man of wealth in real life--except for an improvident financial decision by his father. A minor diplomat before he turned to acting, Hale began appearing in minor film roles in 1934, showing up fleetingly in such well-remembered films as the Karloff/Lugosi film The Raven (1935), the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera (1935) and the first version of A Star is Born (1937).
In 1938, Hale was cast as construction executive J. C. Dithers in Blondie, the first of 28 "B"-pictures based on Chic Young's popular comic strip. Though taller and more distinguished-looking than the gnomelike Dithers of the comics, Hale became instantly synonymous with the role, continuing to portray the character until 1946's Blondie's Lucky Day (his voice was heard in the final film of the series, Beware of Blondie, though that film's on-camera Dithers was Edward Earle). During this same period, Hale also appeared regularly as Irish-brogued Inspector Fernack in RKO's "The Saint" series. After 1946, Hale alternated between supporting roles and bits, frequently unbilled (e.g. Angel on My Shoulder, Call Northside 777 and Son of Paleface); he had a pivotal role as Robert Walker's hated father in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951), though the part was confined to a smidgen of dialogue and a single long-shot. Hale worked prolifically in television in the '50s, with substantial guest roles in such series as Disneyland and The Adventures of Superman. In 1966, after a long illness, Jonathan Hale committed suicide at the age of 75, just months before the TV release of the Blondie films that had won him prominence in the '30s and '40s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi