A native of Iowa, he came to Hollywood in 1917, in response to what he perceived as a call from God. His parish ministry in Petaluma was highly successful, including one of the first church-sponsored Boy Scout troops in California. He left there, sensing that he was bidden to establish a church mission to the nascent movie industry here.An unofficial star to commemorate Fr Dodd was recently placed on the Finley Avenue sidewalk in front of the St Mary's parish.
The church began on February 3, 1918, in a storefront on N. Vermont Avenue, but soon moved to a site on N. New Hampshire. By 1930, the new church was built on Finley Avenue.
Fr Dodd was a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and always played the part of a clergyman. Directors knew him as "One-Shot Dodd" -- he never needed to do a scene over again; he got it right the first time. Many will remember him as the Senate Chaplain in "Mr Smith Goes to Washington", with Jimmy Stewart, or the Priest in the Garden awaiting Claudette Colbert, in "It Happened One Night." His three-hundredth screen "wedding" featured Rosalind Russell as the bride. Altogether he had about 385 film roles. He also worked behind the scenes, as an advisor to the likes of Cecil B. De Mille, on both versions of "The Ten Commandments" -- black & white, and color.
It is likely that he originated the idea of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, to help out-of- work actors and actresses, then promoted the idea to Mary Pickford, Doug Fairbanks, Sr., and Charlie Chaplin, who raised the funds that Fr Dodd distributed.
A biography named him "A Candle Among the Stars." And there is a movement afoot to honor him in an appropriate way. The parish hopes to host a film festival featuring him in some of the movies in which he took roles.