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Ed Wynn

Ed Wynn

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Also Known As: Isaiah Edwin Leopold Died: June 19, 1966
Born: November 9, 1886 Cause of Death: cancer of the neck
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: actor, producer, playwright, vaudevillian, hat salesman, utility boy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Hugely popular vaudeville and Broadway comedian who, after being boycotted by the Shuberts for organizing an actor's strike, continued his success by writing and producing his own shows. Billed as "The Perfect Fool" after the title of one of his Broadway shows, Wynn was known for his trademark zany hats, misfit clothes, oversized shoes, lisping speech, fluttering hands, squeaky giggling and his exit line, "I'll be back in a flash with more trash." Progenitor of a topsy-turvy career, Wynn conquered radio with his first-time broadcast of a full-length comedy show to a radio audience in 1922 and followed with his own popular radio series as the Texaco "Fire Chief" (1932-35). He pioneered in combining his comedy routines with spoofs of the sponsor's commercial messages. Primarily a visual comic, he reemerged in the following decade as a popular figure in the new medium of television, winning the first Emmy Award as Most Outstanding Live Personality. In the late 50s, after having appeared in only a handful of films, Wynn began a successful career as a character actor, playing his first dramatic role in "The Great Man" (1956) and following with an Oscar-nominated performance as the Dutch dentist in "The...

Hugely popular vaudeville and Broadway comedian who, after being boycotted by the Shuberts for organizing an actor's strike, continued his success by writing and producing his own shows. Billed as "The Perfect Fool" after the title of one of his Broadway shows, Wynn was known for his trademark zany hats, misfit clothes, oversized shoes, lisping speech, fluttering hands, squeaky giggling and his exit line, "I'll be back in a flash with more trash." Progenitor of a topsy-turvy career, Wynn conquered radio with his first-time broadcast of a full-length comedy show to a radio audience in 1922 and followed with his own popular radio series as the Texaco "Fire Chief" (1932-35). He pioneered in combining his comedy routines with spoofs of the sponsor's commercial messages. Primarily a visual comic, he reemerged in the following decade as a popular figure in the new medium of television, winning the first Emmy Award as Most Outstanding Live Personality. In the late 50s, after having appeared in only a handful of films, Wynn began a successful career as a character actor, playing his first dramatic role in "The Great Man" (1956) and following with an Oscar-nominated performance as the Dutch dentist in "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1959). He alternated dramatic roles with the comedies "Cinderfella" (1960), "The Absentminded Professor" (1961) and "Mary Poppins" (1964). Father of actor Keenan Wynn (1916-86) who co-starred with him in "The Great Man" and the 1956 Rod Steiger teleplay "Requiem for a Heavyweight".

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 American Lifestyles (1987) ("The Nightclub Boom" - "Show Business: The Postwar Years")
2.
 The Gnome-Mobile (1967) Rufus
3.
 The Daydreamer (1966) The Emperor
4.
 The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) Old Aram
5.
 Dear Brigitte (1965) Captain
6.
 Those Calloways (1965) Ed Parker
7.
 That Darn Cat (1965) Mr. Hofstedder
8.
 Mary Poppins (1964) Uncle Albert
9.
 The Patsy (1964)
10.
 Son of Flubber (1963) A. J. Allen
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Ran away from home and joined the Thurber-Nasher Repertoire Company, traveling stage company as backstage helper and occasional onstage player at age 15
:
Returned home when repertory company went bankrupt; sold hats
:
Moved to New York at age 16
1903:
Began vaudeville career
:
Teamed with Jack Lewis as Win and Lose for two years
:
Became successful solo vaudeville comic before age 18
1910:
Broadway debut in short-lived musical, "The Deacon and the Lady"
1914:
Made stage debut in "Ziegfeld Follies of 1914"
1919:
Joined actor's strike, subsequently boycotted by Shuberts
1920:
Wrote and produced own shows beginning with Broadway musical revue, "Ed Wynn's Carnival"
1922:
Made first broadcast of a full-length comedy show to a radio audience
1927:
Film debut, "Rubber Heels"
1930:
First sound film, "Follow the Leader"
1932:
Starred in his first radio series, "The Fire Chief"
:
Suffered nervous breakdown; retired briefly; had a highly publicized income tax settlement for $510,000 with government during 1930s
1940:
Returned to Broadway in "Boys and Girls Together"
:
Hosted independent variety show on TV, "The Ed Wynn Show"
1957:
Played first straight dramatic film role in "The Great Man" (filmed 1956, released 1957)
1956:
Played dramatic role in Rod Serling's teleplay, "Requiem for a Heavyweight" on "Playhouse 90"
:
Starred on TV in own situation comedy, "The Ed Wynn Show"
1964:
Had featured role in the Disney film "Mary Poppins"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Central High School: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -

Notes

"No one can exceed him in solid, impenetrable asininity. But no one can, at the same time, be more amiable, well-meaning and attractive. Nature gave him a large and solemn face which seemed to promise an unending series of well-intentioned blunders, and his art, succeeds, somehow, in giving the impression that his career has been more the result of the following with an admirable consistency Polonius's advise--"To thine own self be true.'"--Joseph Wood Krutch wrote in "The Nation" (quoted in "New York Times" obituary, June 20, 1966)

Wynn's name is honored in the last two call letters of radio station WNEW, the only vestige of the proposed Amalgamated Broadcasting System in which he played a prominent role.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Hilda Keenan. Actor. Married in 1914; divorced in 1937; daughter of Irish-American actor Frank Keenan.
wife:
Frieda Mierse. Showgirl. Married 1937; divorced 1939; married one month after divorce from Hilda Keenan.
wife:
Dorothy Elizabeth Nesbitt. Married 1946; marriage dissolved 1955.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Joseph Leopold. Women's hat manufacturer and retailer. Born near Prague.
mother:
Minnie Leopold. Born of Sephardic Jews in Istanbul, Turkey.
grandson:
Tracy Keenan Wynn. Screenwriter.
grandson:
Ned Wynn. Author of autobiographical "We Will Always Live in Beverly Hills" (1991).
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Philosophy of a Fool"

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