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Joseph Calleia

Joseph Calleia ( kə-LAY; born Joseph Alexander Caesar Herstall Vincent Calleja, August 4, 1897 – October 31, 1975) was a Maltese-born American actor and singer on the stage and in films, radio and television.

After serving in the British Transport Service during World War I he travelled to the United States and began his career on the stage, initially in musical comedy, but later in original Broadway productions as Broadway (1926), The Front Page (1928), The Last Mile (1930), and Grand Hotel (1930). Calleia became a star with the play Small Miracle (1934), his first real role as a heavy, and he was put under contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Calleia excelled as the villain in Hollywood films, but he fought against typecasting and created a succession of darkly mysterious characters edged with humor in films including Algiers (1938), Five Came Back (1939), Golden Boy (1939), The Glass Key (1942) and Gilda (1946). During World War II Calleia led the Malta War Relief organization in the US, and toured for the USO and the Hollywood Victory Committee. After the war he continued to work steadily in motion pictures and television, and he starred in the 1948 London stage premiere of Arthur Miller's Tony Award-winning play, All My Sons. Calleia's performance in Orson Welles's 1958 film Touch of Evil is regarded as one of the best in his career.

Birth and Death Data: Born August 4th, 1897 (Rabat), Died October 31st, 1975 (Sliema)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1926

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, songwriter

Notes: Also listed as Joseph Spurin-Calleja or J. S. Calleja.


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia W142621 10-in. 9/15/1926 My heart is calling Lewis James Male vocal solo, with orchestra songwriter  
OKeh 80033 10-in. 5/7/1926 Adelai Bruce Wallace Male vocal solo, with instrumental quintet composer  
Brunswick E19525-E19528 10-in. 6/10/1926 Adelai Allen McQuhae Male vocal solo, with string quartet, tuba, piano, and bells composer  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Calleia, Joseph," accessed July 29, 2021,

Calleia, Joseph. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from

"Calleia, Joseph." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 29 July 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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