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Monty Woolley

Monty Woolley

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Also Known As: Edgar Montillion Woolley Died: May 6, 1963
Born: August 17, 1888 Cause of Death: kidney and heart ailment
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, professor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

If ever an actor was closely identified with one role, it’s Monty Woolley for playing Sheridan Whiteside, the irascible and overbearing house guest who refuses to go away in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942). Playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart had modeled the character of “Sherry” after their close friend, theater critic and radio personality Alexander Woolcott, and had imagined him playing the role when the stage comedy debuted on Broadway in 1939. But Woolcott’s busy schedule meant that Woolley stepped into the play for its initial run of 783 performances, then sealed his identification with the role by repeating it in the film version and, eventually, on television. Woolley’s two Oscar nominations came for other roles – as Best Actor for The Pied Piper (1942) and Best Supporting Actor for Since You Went Away (1944). He also won a Best Actor award from the National Board of Review for Pied Piper. But the actor fondly known as “The Beard” for his immaculately groomed white whiskers, will always be remembered by audiences as the acid-tongued, wheelchair-bound Whiteside. Edgar Montillion Woolley was born into a socially prominent family on August 17, 1888, in Manhattan. He received...

If ever an actor was closely identified with one role, it’s Monty Woolley for playing Sheridan Whiteside, the irascible and overbearing house guest who refuses to go away in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942). Playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart had modeled the character of “Sherry” after their close friend, theater critic and radio personality Alexander Woolcott, and had imagined him playing the role when the stage comedy debuted on Broadway in 1939. But Woolcott’s busy schedule meant that Woolley stepped into the play for its initial run of 783 performances, then sealed his identification with the role by repeating it in the film version and, eventually, on television.

Woolley’s two Oscar nominations came for other roles – as Best Actor for The Pied Piper (1942) and Best Supporting Actor for Since You Went Away (1944). He also won a Best Actor award from the National Board of Review for Pied Piper. But the actor fondly known as “The Beard” for his immaculately groomed white whiskers, will always be remembered by audiences as the acid-tongued, wheelchair-bound Whiteside.

Edgar Montillion Woolley was born into a socially prominent family on August 17, 1888, in Manhattan. He received degrees from both Yale and Harvard and taught English and drama at Yale, where his students included Stephen Vincent Benét and Thornton Wilder. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I. His close friendship with composer/songwriter Cole Porter led him into the theatrical life in New York City, where he directed musicals and revues, many in association with Porter.

At age 47 Woolley gave up the academic life altogether to pursue a career as a performer, making his Broadway debut in the hit musical On Your Toes (1936). That same year he made his movie debut with an uncredited bit for 20th Century Fox in Ladies in Love. Then he settled in at MGM to play a series of doctors, lawyers and professors in such movies as Everybody Sing (1938), The Girl of the Golden West (1938), Lord Jeff (1938) and Dancing Co-Ed (1939).

The Pied Piper is a drama set during World War II, with Woolley in his Oscar-nominated role as a cantankerous Englishman on holiday in France when the Nazis invade. Reluctantly, he agrees to transport a group of French children into England. In another WWII outing, David O. Selznick’s Since You Went Away, Woolley is a jaded but sympathetic boarder in Claudette Colbert’s home while her husband is at war.

Woolley must have been amused by the antiseptic portrait drawn of his friend, the high-living Cole Porter, in the Warner Bros. biopic Night and Day (1946), with Cary Grant as Porter and Woolley playing himself. Woolley took the top-billed lead in the musical Irish Eyes Are Smiling (1944), playing an irascible Broadway producer with a more-than-passing resemblance to Sheridan Whiteside.

Woolley starred with British comedienne Gracie Field in two films, Holy Matrimony (1943) and Molly and Me (1945). He reunited with Cary Grant in the delightful comedy The Bishop’s Wife (1947), playing an atheist professor who is nonetheless charmed by guardian angel Cary. Woolley had another lead (with Marilyn Monroe in support!) in As Young as You Feel (1951), a comedy about a man who fights back when he’s forced to retire. Woolley returned to MGM for his final film, a version of the operetta Kismet (1955) in which he plays an unaccustomedly agreeable Omar.

Woolley, a part of the theatrical gay underground from the Roaring ’20s, never married and died in Albany, NY, in 1963.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Kismet (1955) Omar
2.
 As Young As You Feel (1951) John Hodges
3.
 The Bishop's Wife (1948) Professor Wutheridge
4.
 Miss Tatlock's Millions (1948) Miles Tatlock
5.
 Night and Day (1946) Himself
6.
 Molly and Me (1945) John Graham
7.
 Since You Went Away (1944) Col. William G. Smollett
8.
 Irish Eyes Are Smiling (1944) Edgar Brawley
9.
 Holy Matrimony (1943) Priam Farll, also known as Henry Leek
10.
 Life Begins at Eight-Thirty (1942) Madden Thomas
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Taught at Yale between 1919 and 1936
1936:
Broadway acting debut
1937:
First film role in "Live, Love and Learn"

Education

Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts -
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1911

Contributions

albatros1 ( 2007-10-03 )

Source: Wikipedia The Internet Encyclopedia

Monty Woolley (August 17, 1888 - May 6, 1963) was an American actor. Born Edgar Montillion Woolley in New York City, Woolley was a professor and lecturer at Yale University (one of his students was Thornton Wilder) who began acting on Broadway in 1936. He was typecast as the wasp-tongued, supercilious sophisticate. His most famous role is that of the cranky radio wag forced to stay immobile because of a seemingly-injured hip in 1942's The Man Who Came to Dinner, which he had performed onstage before taking it to Hollywood. In the film, he caricatured Alexander Woollcott, a radio and press celebrity of the 1930s and 1940s. He was also a frequent radio presence as a guest performer on such shows as The Fred Allen Show, Duffy's Tavern, The Big Show, and others. He was an intimate friend of Cole Porter while a student at Yale and in later years. They enjoyed many amusing disreputable adventures together in New York and on foreign travels. He played himself in Warner Bros..' pseudo-biopic about Cole Porter's life, "Night and Day" (1946), a highly fictionalized account of Porter's very unorthodox professional and personal life. According to Bennett Cerf in Try and Stop Me, Woolley was at a dinner party and suddenly belched. A woman sitting nearby glared at him; he glared back and said, "What did you expect--chimes?" Cerf said that Woolley liked the line so much he insisted that it be added to the script of his next stage role. Like Clifton Webb (another larger-than-life personality), Woolley signed with 20th Century Fox in the 1940's and appeared in many films through the mid-1950's. Woolley has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Academy Awards and Nominations 1945 - Nominated - Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Since You Went Away 1943 - Nominated - Best Actor in a Leading Role - The Pied Piper

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