Jerome Palmer Cowan was an American stage, film, and television actor. At eighteen he joined a travelling stock company, shortly afterwards enlisting in the United States Navy during World War I. After the war he returned to the stage and became a vaudeville headliner, then gained success on the New York stage. He was spotted by Samuel Goldwyn and was given a film contract, his first film being Beloved Enemy.
He appeared in more than one hundred films, but is probably best remembered for two roles in classic films: Miles Archer, the doomed private eye partner of Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon and Thomas Mara, the hapless district attorney who has to prosecute Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street.
The New York City-born actor also played Dagwood Bumstead's boss Mr. Radcliffe in several installments of Columbia Pictures' Blondie series. He also appeared in Deadline at Dawn, June Bride, and High Sierra.
In 1959 he played Horatio Styles in the episode "Winter Song" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western television series, The Alaskans, with Roger Moore. That same year, he made two guest appearances in the CBS courtroom drama series, Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr.