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Edward Everett Horton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edward Everett Horton
Edward Everett Horton.jpg
Horton in 1941
Edward Everett Horton Jr.

(1886-03-18)March 18, 1886
New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 29, 1970(1970-09-29) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California
Other namesE.E. Horton
Edward Horton
Edward E. Horton
Alma materOberlin College (no degree)
Brooklyn Polytechnic
Columbia University
  • Actor
  • singer
  • dancer
Years active1906–1970

Edward Everett Horton Jr. (March 18, 1886 – September 29, 1970) was an American character actor.[1] He had a long career in film, theater, radio, television, and voice work for animated cartoons.

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  • Lonely Wives (1931) | Full Movie | Edward Everett Horton | Esther Ralston | Laura La Plante


Early life

Horton was born in Kings County, New York (now Brooklyn, New York City) to Edward Everett Horton, a compositor for The New York Times, and his wife, Isabella S. (née Diack) Horton.[2] His father had English and German ancestry, and his mother was born in Matanzas, Cuba to George and Mary (née Orr) Diack, natives of Scotland.[3] He attended Boys' High School, Brooklyn and Baltimore City College, where he later was inducted into its Hall of Fame.[4]

He was a student at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he majored in German. However, he was asked to leave after he climbed to the top of a building and, after a crowd gathered, threw off a dummy, making them think he had jumped. He attended the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn for one year, until the school discontinued its arts courses; he moved on to Columbia University, "until I got fouled up with The Varsity Show of 1909. This was the first time I had really ever been on the stage... After that, to put it gently, Columbia and I came to an amicable parting of the ways. They were just as glad to see me go as I was to get out."[5] That concluded Horton's collegiate period.

Stage and film career

Horton had begun his stage career in 1906, singing and dancing and playing small parts in college, vaudeville, and Broadway productions. His father persuaded him to adopt his full name professionally. "Originally, I went under the name of Edward Horton. My father said, 'I think you're making a mistake, Edward. Anybody could be Edward Horton, but nobody else could be Edward Everett Horton.' I said, 'I think I like that.'"

In 1919, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he began acting in Hollywood films. His first starring role was in the comedy Too Much Business (1922), and he portrayed the lead role of an idealistic young classical composer in the comedy Beggar on Horseback (1925). In 1927–29, he starred in eight two-reel silent comedies produced by Harold Lloyd for Paramount Pictures release. He made the transition to sound films with Educational Pictures in 1929, in a series of sound-comedy playlets. As a stage-trained performer, he found more film work easily and appeared in some of Warner Bros.' movies, including The Terror (1928) and Sonny Boy (1929).

Horton soon cultivated his own special variation of the double take (an actor's reaction to something, followed by a delayed, more extreme reaction). In Horton's version, he smiled ingratiatingly and nodded in agreement with what just happened; then, when realization set in, his facial features collapsed entirely into a sober, troubled mask.

Horton starred in many comedy features in the 1930s, usually playing a mousy fellow who put up with domestic or professional problems to a certain point and then finally asserted himself for a happy ending. He is best remembered, however, for his work in supporting roles. These include The Front Page (1931), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Alice in Wonderland (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934, the first of several Astaire/Rogers films in which Horton appeared), Top Hat (1935), Biography of a Bachelor Girl (1935), Danger - Love at Work (1937), Lost Horizon (1937), Holiday (1938), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Pocketful of Miracles (1961), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), and Sex and the Single Girl (1964). His last role was in the comedy film Cold Turkey (1971), in which his character communicated only through facial expressions.

Horton continued to appear in stage productions, often in summer stock. His performance in the play Springtime for Henry became a perennial in summer theaters.[6]

Horton was so prolific he sometimes found himself committed to two projects at the same time. One project would be in progress while the second project suddenly came up sooner than expected, forcing Horton to make other arrangements. In 1953, Horton announced on the ABC-TV game show The Name's the Same that his next picture would be one of the Ma and Pa Kettle comedies. A scheduling conflict compelled Horton to bow out, and his role in Ma and Pa Kettle at Home was played by Alan Mowbray.

In 1960, Horton was approached by his former director Frank Capra to work in the new film Pocketful of Miracles. Horton wanted to rejoin Capra, but had a commitment to finish a stage run of the play Once Upon a Mattress; the show wouldn't be closing for another two weeks. Horton phoned Buster Keaton, who had played the same role in an earlier production, and asked if Keaton could replace him. Keaton finished the play's run, and Horton made the Capra film.

Radio and television

From 1945 to 1947, Horton hosted radio's Kraft Music Hall. An early television appearance came in the play Sham, shown on The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre on December 13, 1948. During the 1950s, Horton worked primarily in television. One of his best-remembered appearances is in an episode of I Love Lucy, broadcast in 1952, in which he is cast against type as a frisky, amorous suitor. In 1960, he guest-starred on The Real McCoys as J. Luther Medwick, grandfather of the boyfriend of series character Hassie McCoy (Lydia Reed). In the story, Medwick clashes with the equally outspoken Grandpa Amos McCoy (played by Walter Brennan).

He remains, however, best known to the Baby Boomer generation as the venerable narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (1959–61),[7] an American animated television series that originally aired from November 19, 1959, to June 27, 1964.

In 1962, he portrayed the character Uncle Ned in three episodes of Dennis the Menace. In 1965, he guest-starred in an episode of The Cara Williams Show and also played the medicine man, Roaring Chicken, in F Troop. He echoed this role, portraying Chief Screaming Chicken, on Batman as a pawn to Vincent Price's Egghead.

Personal life

Edward Everett Horton never discussed his private life publicly, but in 1968 he granted an interview to writers Bernard Rosenberg and Harry Silverstein in which he reviewed his life and career, punctuated by self-effacing remarks ("Nobody's older than I am. Oh, a few people are, but they are not in circulation").[8] Published in 1970, the interview only skims through his personal relationships. Horton recalled that, rather than dating or nightclubbing, he would invite his female co-stars to attend parties he was throwing. "I never married. However, I have not given up hope. This is Leap Year [1968], you know."[9]

Horton never married and his longtime companion was actor Gavin Gordon with whom he had appeared in a 1931 production of Noël Coward's 'Private Lives'. In 1970 Horton was diagnosed with cancer and died on September 29, 1970 at his home in San Fernando, California. He was 84 years old.==Death and legacy== Horton died of cancer in 1970 at age 84 in Encino, California. His remains were interred in Glendale's Whispering Pines section of Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.[10]

In 1925, Horton purchased several acres in the district of Encino, Los Angeles and lived on the property at 5521 Amestoy Avenue until his death. He named the estate Belleigh Acres, and it contained Horton's own house and houses for his brother, his sister and their respective families.[1] In 1939, the author F. Scott Fitzgerald rented a house on the estate - he was working on his unfinished novel The Last Tycoon in his final years. In the 1950s, the state of California forced Horton to sell a portion of his property for construction of the Ventura Freeway. The freeway construction left a short stump of Amestoy Avenue south of Burbank Boulevard, and shortly after his death the city of Los Angeles renamed that portion Edward Everett Horton Lane.[11]

Edward Everett Horton Lane begins in the shadow of the Ventura Freeway and ends at Burbank Boulevard. On the other side of the boulevard is a bus stop, also named for Edward Everett Horton, between bus stops at Aldea and Balboa. The borderline of Anthony C. Beilenson Park is directly across the street from the corner of Burbank Boulevard and Edward Everett Horton Lane. The opposite end of the lane leads to a foot bridge that overlooks the Ventura Freeway and ends on the Amestoy Avenue side.[citation needed]

British radio DJ and comedian Kenny Everett adopted the name of Everett in honor of Horton, who was a childhood hero of his. (His real name was Maurice Cole).[12]

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Horton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6427 Hollywood Boulevard.[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1922 Too Much Business John Henry Jackson (film debut)
The Ladder Jinx Arthur Barnes
A Front Page Story Rodney Marvin
1923 Ruggles of Red Gap Ruggles Credited as Edward Horton
The Vow of Vengeance
To the Ladies Leonard Beebe
1924 Flapper Wives Vincent Platt
Try and Get It Glenn Collins
The Man Who Fights Alone Bob Alten
Helen's Babies Uncle Harry with Clara Bow and Baby Peggy
1925 Beggar on Horseback Neil McRae
Marry Me John Smith #2
The Business of Love Edward Burgess
1926 La Bohème Colline
The Nutcracker Horatio Slipaway
Poker Faces Jimmy Whitmore
The Whole Town's Talking Chester Binney
1927 Taxi! Taxi! Peter Whitby
No Publicity Eddie Howard silent short
Find the King Eddie Fairchild silent short
1928 Dad's Choice Eddie silent short
Behind the Counter Eddie Baxter silent short
Horse Shy Eddie Hamilton silent short
Scrambled Weddings Eddie Howe silent short
Call Again Eddie silent short
Vacation Waves Eddie Davis silent short
The Terror Ferdinand Fane
Miss Information Representative Vitaphone sound short
1929 Ask Dad Dad sound short
The Eligible Mr. Bangs Mr. Bangs sound short
The Right Bed Bobby Kent sound short
Trusting Wives sound short
Prince Gabby sound short
Good Medicine sound short
Sonny Boy Crandall Thorpe
The Hottentot Sam Harrington
The Sap The Sap
The Aviator Robert Steele
1930 Take the Heir Smithers
Wide Open Simon Haldane
Holiday Nick Potter
Once a Gentleman Oliver
Reaching for the Moon Roger - the Valet
1931 Kiss Me Again René Alternative title: Toast of the Legion
Lonely Wives Richard Smith / Felix, the Great Zero
The Front Page Roy V. Bensinger
Six Cylinder Love Monty Winston
Smart Woman Billy Ross
The Age for Love Horace Keats
1932 But the Flesh Is Weak Sir George Kelvin
Roar of the Dragon Busby
Trouble in Paradise François Filiba
1933 Soldiers of the King Sebastian Marvello
A Bedtime Story Victor Dubois
It's a Boy Dudley Leake
The Way to Love Prof. Gaston Bibi
Design for Living Max Plunkett
Alice in Wonderland The Mad Hatter
1934 Easy to Love Eric
The Poor Rich Albert Stuyvesant Spottiswood
Success at Any Price Fisher
Uncertain Lady Elliot Crane
Sing and Like It Adam Frink - Producer
Smarty Vernon
Kiss and Make-Up Marcel Caron
Ladies Should Listen Paul Vernet
The Merry Widow Ambassador Popoff
The Gay Divorcee Egbert Fitzgerald
1935 Biography of a Bachelor Girl Leander 'Bunny' Nolan
The Night Is Young Baron Szereny
All the King's Horses Count Josef von Schlapstaat
The Devil Is a Woman Gov. Don Paquito 'Paquitito'
$10 Raise Hubert T. Wilkins leading role
In Caliente Harold Brandon
Going Highbrow Augie Winterspoon
Top Hat Horace Hardwick
The Private Secretary Reverend Robert Spalding
Little Big Shot Mortimer
His Night Out Homer B. Bitts leading role
Your Uncle Dudley Dudley Dixon leading role
1936 Her Master's Voice Ned Farrar leading role
The Singing Kid Davenport Rogers
Nobody's Fool Will Wright leading role
Hearts Divided John
The Man in the Mirror Jeremy Dilke dual role, lead
Let's Make a Million Harrison Gentry leading role
1937 Lost Horizon Alexander P. Lovett
The King and the Chorus Girl Count Humbert Evel Bruger
Oh, Doctor Edward J. Billop leading role
Shall We Dance Jeffrey Baird
Wild Money P.E. Dodd leading role
Danger – Love at Work Howard Rogers
Angel Graham
The Perfect Specimen Mr. Grattan
The Great Garrick Tubby
Hitting a New High Lucius B. Blynn
1938 Bluebeard's Eighth Wife The Marquis De Loiselle
College Swing Hubert Dash
Holiday Professor Nick Potter
Little Tough Guys in Society Oliver
1939 Paris Honeymoon Ernest Figg
The Gang's All Here Treadwell
That's Right—You're Wrong Tom Village
1941 You're the One Death Valley Joe Frink
Ziegfeld Girl Noble Sage
Sunny Henry Bates
Bachelor Daddy Joseph Smith
Here Comes Mr. Jordan Messenger 7013
Week-End for Three Stonebraker
The Body Disappears Professor Shotesbury
1942 The Magnificent Dope Horace Hunter
I Married an Angel Peter
Springtime in the Rockies McTavish
1943 Forever and a Day Sir Anthony Trimble-Pomfret
Thank Your Lucky Stars Farnsworth
The Gang's All Here Peyton Potter
1944 Her Primitive Man Orrin
Summer Storm Count 'Piggy' Volsky
Arsenic and Old Lace Mr. Witherspoon
San Diego, I Love You Philip McCooley
Brazil Everett St. John Everett
The Town Went Wild Everett Conway
1945 Steppin' in Society Judge Avery Webster
Lady on a Train Mr. Haskell
1946 Cinderella Jones Keating
Faithful in My Fashion Hiram Dilworthy
Earl Carroll Sketchbook Dr. Milo Edwards
1947 The Ghost Goes Wild Eric
Down to Earth Messenger 7013
Her Husband's Affairs J. B. Cruikshank
1955 Max Liebman Presents: The Merry Widow Baron Zelta TV movie
1956 Saturday Spectacular: Manhattan Tower Noah TV movie
1957 The Story of Mankind Sir Walter Raleigh
1961 Pocketful of Miracles Hudgins, butler
1963 One Got Fat Narrator short subject
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Mr. Dinckler
1964 Sex and the Single Girl The Chief
1967 The Perils of Pauline Caspar Coleman
1969 2000 Years Later Evermore
1971 Cold Turkey Hiram C. Grayson (non-speaking role) (final film role); released posthumously

Partial television credits

Year Title Role Episode(s)
1949 The Ford Theatre Hour (The Man Who Came to Dinner) Sheridan Whiteside 1 episode
1952 I Love Lucy Mr. Ritter 1 episode
1956 General Electric Theater Mr. Parkinson 1 episode
1957 Playhouse 90 Mr. Carver 1 episode
1959–1964 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends Narrator, Fractured Fairy Tales All episodes
1960 The Real McCoys J. Luther Medwick 1 episode
1962 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Senator Crabtree 1 episode
1962–1963 Dennis the Menace Ned Matthews 3 episodes
1963 Our Man Higgins Rawley "Who's on First?" with Don Drysdale
1965 Burke's Law Wilbur Starlington 1 episode
1965 F Troop Roaring Chicken 6 episodes
1966 Batman Chief Screaming Chicken episodes 47 and 48
1969 It Takes a Thief Lord Pelham-Gifford 1 episode
1970 Nanny and the Professor Professor Clarendon 1 episode
1971 The Governor & J.J. Doc Simon 2 episodes

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Musical Comedy Theater On an Island with You[14]


  1. ^ a b Fowler, James (April 12, 1997). "Horton's House Grew with Film Career". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  2. ^ "Actor Edward Everett Horton Dies at 84". Dayton Beach Morning Journal. October 1, 1970.
  3. ^ "Edward Everett Horton, Jr". Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  4. ^ Bernstein, Neil (2008). "Notable City College Knights". Baltimore, MD: Baltimore City College Alumni Association.
  5. ^ Edward Everett Horton, interviewed by Bernard Rosenberg and Harry Silverstein in The Real Tinsel, Macmillan, 1970.
  6. ^ Aliperti, Cliff (December 7, 2011). "Edward Everett Horton – Biography of the Beloved Character Actor". Immortal Ephemera. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  7. ^ Desowitz, Bill (August 27, 1999). "Something 'Fractured,' Something New". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  8. ^ Edward Everett Horton, interviewed by Bernard Rosenberg and Harry Silverstein in The Real Tinsel, Macmillan, 1970.
  9. ^ Edward Everett Horton, interviewed by Bernard Rosenberg and Harry Silverstein in The Real Tinsel, Macmillan, 1970.
  10. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 22166). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  11. ^ "Edward Everett Horton's Encino Ranch Estate and the 101 Freeway; How A Celebrity Lost His Ranch to Suburbanization". San Fernando Valley Blog. April 4, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  12. ^ Larkin, Colin (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Seventies Music. Virgin, Muze. p. 148. ISBN 0753501546.
  13. ^ "Edward Everett Horton".
  14. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 23, 2015 – via open access

Listen to

Further reading

  • Rosenberg, Bernard, and Silverstein, Harry (1970). "Edward Everett Horton". The Real Tinsel (hardcover) (First ed.). New York: MacMillan. ISBN 978-1199462787.
  • Alistair, Rupert (2018). "Edward Everett Horton". The Name Below the Title : 65 Classic Movie Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age (softcover) (First ed.). Great Britain: Independently published. pp. 125–128. ISBN 978-1-7200-3837-5.

External links

Media related to Edward Everett Horton at Wikimedia Commons

This page was last edited on 25 March 2023, at 19:49
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