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Bert Lahr

Bert Lahr

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Also Known As: Irving Lahrheim Died: December 4, 1967
Born: August 13, 1895 Cause of Death: massive internal hemorrhage and complications from cancer
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, burlesque performer, vaudevillian, stockroom clerk, errand boy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the leading burlesque and vaudeville stars who went on to Broadway musical comedies, Bert Lahr had a fitful and rather unremarkable film career highlighted only by his delightful turn as the Cowardly Lion in the now classic 1939 version of "The Wizard of Oz". Born to a German immigrant father in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, the precocious Lahr dropped out of school at age 15 and quickly found success with the Seven Frolics, a children's stage act. Altering his last name from Lahrheim to Lahr, he went on to a successful career as a burlesque comic (performing "Dutch" characters, replete with accent) and later in an acted paired with his future wife Mercedes Delpino, eventually playing the Palace Theater in 1925. After debuting on Broadway in "Harry Delmar's Revels" in 1927, Lahr had his first major success in a stage musical playing the prize fighter hero of "Hold Everything" (1928-29). Several other musicals followed, notably "Flying High" (1930), Ziegfeld's "Hot-Cha!" (1932) and "The Show Is On" (1936), which teamed him with Beatrice Lillie in a show conceived and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Audiences loved Lahr's penchant for mugging. twisting his face into comic grotesques and...

One of the leading burlesque and vaudeville stars who went on to Broadway musical comedies, Bert Lahr had a fitful and rather unremarkable film career highlighted only by his delightful turn as the Cowardly Lion in the now classic 1939 version of "The Wizard of Oz". Born to a German immigrant father in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, the precocious Lahr dropped out of school at age 15 and quickly found success with the Seven Frolics, a children's stage act. Altering his last name from Lahrheim to Lahr, he went on to a successful career as a burlesque comic (performing "Dutch" characters, replete with accent) and later in an acted paired with his future wife Mercedes Delpino, eventually playing the Palace Theater in 1925. After debuting on Broadway in "Harry Delmar's Revels" in 1927, Lahr had his first major success in a stage musical playing the prize fighter hero of "Hold Everything" (1928-29). Several other musicals followed, notably "Flying High" (1930), Ziegfeld's "Hot-Cha!" (1932) and "The Show Is On" (1936), which teamed him with Beatrice Lillie in a show conceived and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Audiences loved Lahr's penchant for mugging. twisting his face into comic grotesques and ad-libbing hilarious quips. Often onstage, he would perform routines that became signature pieces, like his famous "Stop in the name of the fire house" routine.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 American Lifestyles (1987) ("The Nightclub Boom" - "Show Business: The Postwar Years")
2.
 The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968) Professor Spats
3.
 The Second Greatest Sex (1955) [Sheriff] Joe [McClure]
4.
 Rose Marie (1954) Barney McCorkle
5.
 Mister Universe (1951) Joe Pulaski
6.
 Always Leave Them Laughing (1949) Eddie Egan
7.
 Meet the People (1944) The commander
8.
 Sing Your Worries Away (1942) Chow Brewster
9.
 Ship Ahoy (1942) "Skip" Owens
10.
 The Wizard of Oz (1939) "Zeke" [/The Cowardly Lion]
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1910:
Spent three years touring with Seven Frolics, a children's vaudeville act; adopted stage surname of Lahr
1913:
At age 18, joined the Columbia burlesque circuit; perfected act playing burlesque "Dutch" characters
:
Served in the US Navy during WWII
1919:
With Mercedes Delpino, formed act Lahr & Mercedes
:
Was first comedian and stage manager for "Roseland Girls"
:
Had biggest success in burlesque in "Keep Smiling"
1925:
First played NYC's Palace Theater
1927:
Broadway debut in "Harry Delmar's Revels"; show closed in 16 weeks
:
Had year-long run as the prize fighter hero of the musical "Hold Everything"
1930:
Appeared in the stage show "Flying High"
1931:
Feature film debut in "Flying High"
1932:
Starred in "Hot-Cha!", produced by Florenz Ziegfeld
1936:
Played opposite Beatrice Lillie in "The Show Is On", staged and conceived by Vincente Minnelli
1939:
Portrayed the Cowardly Lion/Zeke in "The Wizard of Oz"
:
Starred opposite Ethel Merman in the Cole Porter musical "DuBarry Was a Lady"
1944:
Reunited onstage with Beatrice Lille to star in Billy Rose's "Seven Lively Arts", featuring songs by Cole Porter
1946:
Made rare dramatic appearance onstage in "Burlesque"
1948:
Toured in "Make Mine Manhattan" in the role originated by Sid Caesar; appeared in film version
1949:
Reprised stage role in the TV adaptation of "Burlesque" (NBC)
1951:
Starred in the revue "Two on the Aisle"
1956:
Returned to the stage opposite Tom Ewell in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, Florida
1956:
Played opposite E G Marshall in the Broadway production of "Waiting for Godot"
1956:
Had leading roles in two TV productions, "Androcles and the Lion" and "School for Wives"
:
Starred in the Broadway production "Hotel Paradiso", featuring Angela Lansbury
1959:
Appeared alongside Nancy Walker, Dick Van Dyke and Shelley Berman in the revue "The Girls Against the Boys"
1959:
Starred in the unsold pilot "Mr. O'Malley" (CBS)
1960:
Made first appearance in Shakespeare, cast as Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Autolycus in "The Winter's Tale"
1962:
Appeared in "The Beauty Part" by S J Perelman
1964:
Won Tony Award for turn as Volpone in the musical "Foxy"
1964:
Played the father in the TV production of "The Fantasticks" (NBC)
:
Appeared in a series of TV commercials for Lay's Potato Chips
1967:
Collapsed during filming of last movie, "The Night They Raided Minsky's"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Mercedes Delpino. Vaudevillian. Teamed with Lahr in a a dance aact from c. 1919; had common law marriage until they officially wed on August 29, 1929; Lahr was granted an annulment in 1940 on the grounds that Delpino was clinically insane; mother of his son Herbert.
wife:
Mildred Schroeder. Actor. Married from February 11, 1940 until his death in 1967; mother of his son John and daughter Jane.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jacob Lahrheim. Upholsterer. German immigrant; settled in the Yorkville section of Manhattan.
son:
Herbert Lahr. Born in 1929; mother, Mercedes Delpino; survived him.
son:
John Lahr. Author, critic. Born on July 12, 1941; mother, Mildred Lahr; survived him.
daughter:
Jane Lahr. Mother, Mildred Lahr; survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Notes on a Cowardly Lion"

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