Eric Blore


Actor
Eric Blore

About

Birth Place
London, England, GB
Born
December 23, 1887
Died
March 01, 1959

Biography

Precise in speech and manner in every way, but possessed of a smarmy nature that lent a tone of acidic irony to every line he uttered, Eric Blore was a character actor well-loved by movie fans for his comic turns in such popular features as "The Gay Divorcée" (1934), "The Lady Eve" (1941) and "The Road to Zanzibar" (1941), among numerous other films. Blore was best used as a valet or man...

Photos & Videos

Biography

Precise in speech and manner in every way, but possessed of a smarmy nature that lent a tone of acidic irony to every line he uttered, Eric Blore was a character actor well-loved by movie fans for his comic turns in such popular features as "The Gay Divorcée" (1934), "The Lady Eve" (1941) and "The Road to Zanzibar" (1941), among numerous other films. Blore was best used as a valet or managerial type whose professionalism and poise masked a genuine contempt for those around him, borne out by an extraordinarily inflated ego; in this capacity, he lent memorable support to stars like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in five films, beginning in 1933 with "Flying Down to Rio" (1933), as well as Laurel and Hardy in "Swiss Miss" (1938) and the Marx Brothers in "Love Happy" (1950). After voicing Mr. Toad in the Disney feature "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" (1948), Blore's career was reduced to roles in B-pictures before his death in 1959, but his flawless comic timing made him an instantly recognizable favorite for generations of classic movie fans.

Born Dec. 23, 1887 in the Finchley district of Middlesex county, England, Eric Blore began his professional life at the age of 18 as an insurance agent. He decided to leave his profession and take up acting while on a tour of Australia, much to the chagrin of his father, who regarded performing as a "ladylike" pursuit. After a stint in the infantry during World War I, Blore began acting on the London stage, primarily in comedies. He made his film debut in a U.K. comic short, "A Night Out and a Day In" (1920) shortly before heading to New York, where he made his Broadway debut in Little Miss Bluebeard (1923), which ran for 175 performances. Blore soon became a staple of Broadway musical revues, for which he also occasionally penned song lyrics.

Blore made his Hollywood debut in a silent adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" (1926), but remained largely off-screen - save for a few uncredited turns - until 1933. That year, he gave a memorable turn as an officious hotel manager in "Flying Down to Rio," which featured the first screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Though his screen time was relatively limited, audiences were delighted by his smug turn, and Blore's screen career was launched in earnest. Like many comic character actors, Blore essentially played variations on his most popular role throughout his career. Slight in stature and blessed with a crisp, lock-jawed British accent, he was the go-to for unctuous, highly professional men whose inflated sense of self came through in their dialogue, which fairly dripped with condescension.

Following the success of "Flying Down to Rio," Blore made similar appearance in four subsequent Astaire-Rogers pictures including "The Gay Divorcée" (1934), RKO's screen adaptation of the musical "The Gay Divorce," which also featured Blore in its cast during its Broadway run. He was soon abetting such top comic talent as Laurel and Hardy in "Swiss Miss" (1938) and Martha Raye in "The Boys from Syracuse" (1940). Blore could also be counted on to inject a degree of dry comedy into genre pictures, most notably as Jamison, the faithful manservant to jewel thief-turned-private eye Michael Lanyard, a.k.a. the "Lone Wolf," in a series of 11 thrillers between 1940 and 1947.

But comedies remained his best showcase, and Blore's best moments in that field came with appearances in two of Preston Sturges' acclaimed screwball comedies. In the best of the pair, "The Lady Eve" (1941), Blore played a cagey con man posing as a British royal in order to fleece wealthy businessmen, while in "Sullivan's Travels" (1941), he reprised his manservant persona as the skeptic butler to Joel McCrea's idealistic director. Between assignments with Sturges, Blore also turned up as a dizzy diamond baron opposite Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in "The Road to Zanzibar" (1941), and as the devoted bookkeeper to casino owner Mother Gin Sling in Josef von Sternberg's cult oddity "The Shanghai Gesture" (1941). During this period, Blore also toured the country, promoting his career and his pictures as "the screen's funniest butler."

Blore continued to contribute turns as well-heeled men of authority in pictures like "The Moon and Sixpence" (1942), with George Sanders, and "Holy Matrimony" (1943), as Monty Woolley's devoted valet. But by the end of the 1940s, he struggled to find quality roles, and was reduced to glorified cameos in the Doris Day-Jack Carson musical "Romance on the High Seas" (1948) and "Fancy Pants" (1950) with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. In 1948, Blore lent his precise, clipped diction to the fun-loving J. Thaddeus Toad, a direct if amphibian descendant of his proper-but-loony career roles, in the Walt Disney animated feature "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad." After that departure, Blore turned up in just two more features: "Love Happy" (1950), the Marx Brothers' final, disappointing feature, and "Bowery to Baghad" (1955), an absurd Bowery Boys programmer which featured Blore as a dipsomaniacal genie rescued by Huntz Hall's aging "Boys." The following year, Blore retired from the screen following a debilitating stroke.

In 1959, critic Kenneth Tynan referred to the actor as the "late Eric Blore" in the pages of The New Yorker, which generated an angry request for a retraction from Blore's lawyer. The magazine's editor demanded that Tynan follow through with the request, citing with some indignation that the New Yorker had never before printed a correction in its long and storied history. Tynan complied, but Blore never lived to see the retraction, having suffered a fatal heart attack in Los Angeles on March 2, 1959 - one day before the issue containing the item hit the newsstands. Blore, whose screen persona would have undoubtedly clucked with great amusement over the farrago, was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.

By Paul Gaita

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Bowery to Bagdad (1955)
Genie
Love Happy (1950)
Mackinaw
Fancy Pants (1950)
Sir Wimbley
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Voice of J. Thaddeus Toad
Romance on the High Seas (1948)
Ship's doctor
The Lone Wolf in London (1947)
Claudius Jamison
Winter Wonderland (1947)
Luddington
The Lone Wolf in Mexico (1947)
Jamison
Abie's Irish Rose (1946)
Assistant manager [Mr. Stubbins]
Kitty (1946)
Dobson
The Notorious Lone Wolf (1946)
Jameson
Men in Her Diary (1945)
Florist
Penthouse Rhythm (1945)
Ferdy Pelham
Easy to Look At (1945)
[Billingsly] Billings
San Diego, I Love You (1944)
Nelson
Forever and a Day (1943)
Trimble-Pomfret's butler
The Sky's the Limit (1943)
Jasper
Holy Matrimony (1943)
Henry Leek
Happy Go Lucky (1943)
Mr. Vespers
Submarine Base (1943)
Spike
Passport to Suez (1943)
Llewellyn Jameson
One Dangerous Night (1943)
Jameson
Sullivan's Travels (1942)
Sullivan's valet
The Shanghai Gesture (1942)
The bookkeeper [Caesar Hawkins]
Counter-Espionage (1942)
Jameson
The Moon and Sixpence (1942)
Captain Nichols
Three Girls About Town (1941)
Charlemagne
Confirm or Deny (1941)
Mr. Hobbs
New York Town (1941)
Vyvian
The Lady Eve (1941)
Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith [also known as Pearly]
Redhead (1941)
Digby
The Captain of Koepenick (1941)
Mr. Obermueller, Mayor
Lady Scarface (1941)
Mr. Hartford
Secrets of the Lone Wolf (1941)
Jamison
The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance (1941)
Jamison
Road to Zanzibar (1941)
Charles Kimble
The Boys from Syracuse (1940)
Pinch
Earl of Puddlestone (1940)
Horatio Bottomley
'Til We Meet Again (1940)
Sir Harold Pinckard
South of Suez (1940)
Limey
The Man Who Wouldn't Talk (1940)
Horace Parker
The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady (1940)
Jamison
The Lone Wolf Strikes (1940)
Jamison
The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date (1940)
Jamison
Music in My Heart (1940)
Griggs
$1,000 a Touchdown (1939)
Henry
Island of Lost Men (1939)
Herbert
A Gentleman's Gentleman (1939)
Joy of Living (1938)
Potter
Swiss Miss (1938)
Edward
A Desperate Adventure (1938)
Trump
The Soldier and the Lady (1937)
[Cyril] Blount
Quality Street (1937)
Sergeant
Shall We Dance (1937)
Cecil Flintridge
Breakfast for Two (1937)
Butch
It's Love I'm After (1937)
Digges
Hitting a New High (1937)
Cedric Cosmo
Two in the Dark (1936)
Edmund Fish
Swing Time (1936)
Gordon
Sons O' Guns (1936)
Hobson
Smartest Girl in Town (1936)
Philbean
Piccadilly Jim (1936)
Bayliss
The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)
Stokes
The Casino Murder Case (1935)
Currie
Old Man Rhythm (1935)
Phillips
I Live My Life (1935)
Grove
To Beat the Band (1935)
Hawkins
Diamond Jim (1935)
Mr. [Sampson] Fox
Top Hat (1935)
Bates
The Good Fairy (1935)
Doctor Metz
Seven Keys to Baldpate (1935)
Professor Bolton, alias of Harrison
I Dream Too Much (1935)
Roger
Folies Bergère de Paris (1935)
François
Behold My Wife! (1934)
Benson
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
The waiter
Limehouse Blues (1934)
Slummer
Flying Down to Rio (1933)
Hammerstein's assistant
The Great Gatsby (1926)
Lord Digby

Cast (Short)

Heavenly Music (1943)
Sunday Night at the Trocadero (1937)
Himself

Life Events

Photo Collections

Top Hat - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of RKO's Top Hat (1935), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and directed by Mark Sandrich.
The Boys from Syracuse - Title Lobby Card
Here is the Title Lobby Card from Universal's The Boys from Syracuse (1940). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

I Live My Life (1935) - Brigands Are Men, Aren't They? Early business on a cruise liner off Greece, Frank Morgan is Bentley, playing cards badly, Eric Blore the servant Grove, Fred Keating the fiancè to leading lady Joan Crawford, making her first appearance as Kay, various bits of exposition, in MGM’s I LIve My Life, 1935, also starring Brian Aherne.
Ex-Mrs. Bradford, The - My Assistants Just Resigned Reluctant Doctor Bradford (William Powell) brings snoopy former wife Paula (Jean Arthur) and aide Stokes (Eric Blore) to the morgue, later getting a call from horse trainer North (Frank Thomas), then more surprises, in The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, 1936.
Sullivan's Travels (1942) - Breakfast Is Served! Hollywood director Sullivan (Joel McCrea), who's been passing himself off as a vagrant, confesses his identity to "The Girl" (Veronica Lake), who takes revenge in his swimming pool, in writer-director Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels, 1942.
Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad, The (1949) - What Have I Been Missing? Mole and Rat (voiced by Colin Campbell and Claude Allister) have their first encounter with the irascible Toad (voiced by Eric Blore) and his ride Proudbottom (Pat O’Malley), in the Disney animated feature The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad, 1949.
Breakfast For Two (1937) - Did I Bring Anything Else Home? Joining butler Butch (Eric Blore) on his journey through many gaudy rooms, he is surprised at first to find Barbara Stanwyck in his master’s shower, then not surprised to find Herbert Marshall, worse for wear, still in his evening clothes, opening Breakfast For Two, 1937.
Breakfast For Two (1937) - I'll Smash You Against The Rocks! Shipping heir Jonathan (Herbert Marshall) refuses consolation (from Etienne Girardot) over losing his firm, angrier still to find his one-night-stand Val (Barbara Stanwyck), secretly smitten with him and in league with his butler (Eric Blore), is behind it, Breakfast For Two, 1937.
Lady Scarface (1941) - Kennels Ain't Fit For A Dog! Eric Blore is a dog fancier, unaware he's answering the coded want ad for a gang meet-up, as the hotel dick (Andrew Tombes) greets cop Mason (Dennis O'Keefe), who tangles with reporter Ann (Frances Neal), while the mastermind (Judith Anderson) spots the message, in Lady Scarface, 1941.
It's Love I'm After (1937) - When You're Old And Forgotten Following their performance of Romeo And Juliet, couple Basil (Leslie Howard) and Joyce (Bette Davis) are feuding through dressing-room walls when admiring Marcia (Olivia De Havilland) pays him a visit, early in It's Love I'm After, 1937.
It's Love I'm After (1937) - A Great Loss To The Stage Matinee idol Basil (Leslie Howard) and his man (Eric Blore) overwhelm the butler (E.E. Clive) as they begin their campaign to convince the Wests (George Barbier, Spring Byington) and their daughter Marcia (Olivia De Havilland) that he's a cad, in Archie Mayo's It's Love I'm After, 1937.
It's Love I'm After (1937) - Aristocratic Hens Marcia West (Olivia De Havilland) and parents (Spring Byington, George Barbier) are unaware that their unexpected guest, actor Basil Underwod (Leslie Howard) and his man (Eric Blore) are consipring with her fiance` Henry (Patric Knowles) to make him repulsive, in It's Love I'm After, 1937.
It's Love I'm After (1937) - The Loving Triangle Matinee idol Basil (Leslie Howard) has just arranged to marry his longtime fiancee` and co-star when young Henry (Patric Knowles) appears, complaining of his own besotted girlfriend, butler Digges (Eric Blore) helping manage, in Archie Mayo's It's Love I'm After, 1937.
Ex-Mrs. Bradford, The - I Hereby Serve You From the opening about a murdered jockey, the introduction of well-to-do Doctor Bradford (William Powell), with servant Stokes (Eric Blore), and his unexpected former wife Paula (Jean Arthur), in The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, 1936.

Trailer

Bibliography