Percy Helton


About

Born
January 31, 1894
Died
September 11, 1971

Biography

Born into show business, raspy-voiced actor Percy Helton was short in stature, but a giant among those consummate featured players of Hollywood's Golden Age. With a well-timed double-take or a deftly delivered line, he could seize the spotlight from a Fonda, Redford, or Bacall. Remembered for brief but memorable roles in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "How to Marry a Millionair...

Biography

Born into show business, raspy-voiced actor Percy Helton was short in stature, but a giant among those consummate featured players of Hollywood's Golden Age. With a well-timed double-take or a deftly delivered line, he could seize the spotlight from a Fonda, Redford, or Bacall. Remembered for brief but memorable roles in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "How to Marry a Millionaire," among many other films, Helton, the son of a vaudeville performer, first hit the professional stage in his native New York City when he was barely a toddler. A seasoned Broadway veteran before he could vote, Helton enlisted in the Army at the dawn of World War I, serving in Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces before resuming his busy stage career. Broadway success led to Hollywood and eventually to a notable role in his first talking picture, "Miracle on 34th Street"; he played a soused store Santa who's replaced by the "real" Kris Kringle at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Throughout the next four decades, Helton assayed a rogues' gallery of other onscreen drunks, punks, sidekicks and oddballs, in everything from lush, Oscar-winning musicals ("The Music Man") to gritty postwar thrillers ("Kiss Me Deadly"), from B-movie Westerns to Martin & Lewis slapstick comedies. Though he had perhaps his most substantial film role in director Robert Wise's dour 1949 boxing drama "The Set-Up," Helton never wasted a moment of screen time. Whether in a bit part on "Bonanza" or in his recurring role on "The Beverly Hillbillies" as put-upon bank clerk Homer Cratchit, his face and voice were every bit as welcome as they were ubiquitous.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Sweetface
Head (1968)
Heraldic messenger
Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966)
Fat man
Zebra in the Kitchen (1965)
Mr. Richardson
The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
Storekeeper Peevey
Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
Funeral director
4 for Texas (1963)
Ansel
The Wheeler Dealers (1963)
Ride the High Country (1962)
Where the Boys Are (1960)
Manager
Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960)
Baldy
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1959)
Waldo Pike
Ask Any Girl (1959)
Janitor
The Sheepman (1958)
Station master
The Phantom Stagecoach (1957)
Mr. Wiggins
This Could Be the Night (1957)
Charlie
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Sam Brewster
Spook Chasers (1957)
Mike Clancy
Fury at Gunsight Pass (1956)
Peter Boggs
Terror at Midnight (1956)
Speegie
Diane (1956)
Court jester
The Boss (1956)
Hotel clerk
Shake, Rattle & Rock! (1956)
Hiram
Crashout (1955)
Doctor [Louis] Barnes
Jail Busters (1955)
Warden Oswald
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Doc Kennedy
No Man's Woman (1955)
Otto Peterson
Trial (1955)
Youval
Wicked Woman (1954)
Charlie Borg
Lucky Me (1954)
Brown
White Christmas (1954)
Conductor
The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954)
Kerbelai
A Star Is Born (1954)
Gregory
About Mrs. Leslie (1954)
Hackley
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Coach driver
Geraldine (1954)
Pop
Ride, Vaquero! (1953)
Storekeeper
Call Me Madam (1953)
Senator Wilkins
Down Laredo Way (1953)
"Judge" Sully
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Benton
Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953)
Marlowe
The Stooge (1953)
Sam Robertson
The Robe (1953)
Caleb
Vice Squad (1953)
Jenner
City of Bad Men (1953)
Old timer
She's Back on Broadway (1953)
News vendor
The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953)
Mr. Hammersmith
A Girl in Every Port (1952)
Drive-in manager
I Dream of Jeanie (with the Light Brown Hair) (1952)
Mr. Horker
The Belle of New York (1952)
Bowery bum
Three Guys Named Mike (1951)
Hawkins
Inside Straight (1951)
Lawyer
The Barefoot Mailman (1951)
Dewey Durgan
Chain of Circumstance (1951)
Fogel
The Sun Sets at Dawn (1951)
Feature Syndicate
Never Trust a Gambler (1951)
Salesman
The Tall Target (1951)
Beamish
Cyrano de Bergerac (1951)
Bellerose
Night into Morning (1951)
Drunk
The Family Secret (1951)
Charlie
Darling, How Could You! (1951)
Cabby
Under Mexicali Stars (1950)
Nap Wellington
Fancy Pants (1950)
Mayor Fogarty
Riding High (1950)
Pawnbroker
A Life of Her Own (1950)
Hamburger proprietor
Wabash Avenue (1950)
Ship's captain
Copper Canyon (1950)
Scamper
The Secret Fury (1950)
Roy Palmer, justice of peace
The Set-Up (1949)
Red
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer: Boris Karloff (1949)
Abernathy
Harbor of Missing Men (1949)
"Rummy" Davis
The Crooked Way (1949)
Petey
Red, Hot and Blue (1949)
Stage manager
Chicken Every Sunday (1949)
Mr. Sawyer
Thieves' Highway (1949)
Bar proprietor
That Wonderful Urge (1949)
Drunk
Lust for Gold (1949)
Barber
My Friend Irma (1949)
Mr. Clyde
Criss Cross (1949)
Frank
Free for All (1949)
Mr. [Joe] Hershey
Hazard (1948)
Beady
Call Northside 777 (1948)
William Decker, mailman
Larceny (1948)
Charlie Jordan
Let's Live Again (1948)
"Mr. President"
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Drunken Santa Claus
The Offenders (1924)
Silver Wings (1922)
John
The Flower of Faith (1916)
Tom Judson
The Fairy and the Waif (1915)
The waif

Cast (Special)

The Life of Vernon Hathaway (1955)
Last Stagecoach West (1954)
Telegraph Operator

Cast (Short)

Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Crawford "At Home" (1939)
The Prisoner of Swing (1938)
Du Barry Did All Right (1937)

Life Events

Videos

Movie Clip

How To Marry A Millionaire - Those Income Tax People Director Jean Negulesco beginning with slick shots of Manhattan, landing in Midtown East at Sutton Place, equally sharp Lauren Bacall (as "Schatze") confers with the rental agent (Percy Helton), in How To Marry A Millionaire, 1953, also starring Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe.
Criss Cross (1949) - It All Went One Way Heretofore 100% honest armored car driver Steve (Burt Lancaster) with colleague and family friend Pop (Griff Barnett) not knowing about the heist, recalls his ex-wife (Yvonne DeCarlo) and how he first got involved, Percy Helton the bartender, in Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross, 1949.
Set-Up, The (1949) - Eggs In The Coffee From the opening scenes, manager Tiny (George Tobias) planning with Danny (Edwin Max) to throw a boxing match, trainer Red (Percy Helton) suggesting they should tell their fighter, in Robert Wise's The Set-Up, 1949.
Stooge, The (1952) - Don't Cut You Throat Jerry Lewis is wannabe singer Ted, Percy Helton his fed-up agent Sam, Dean Martin as more-successful singer Bill, who’s been convinced he needs to hire a “stooge” to make him look good, and Polly Bergen is Dean’s frustrated wife, the first meeting of the principals, in The Stooge, 1952.
Silent Partner, The -- (TV Clip) Special Oscar Opening scenes from the George Marshall-directed episode of Screen Director's Playhouse, Joe E. Brown as a famous director attending the Academy Awards, Buster Keaton his former star, ZaSu Pitts a fan in the bar next door, in The Silent Partner, 1955.
Under Mexicali Stars (1950) - Allen, Rex Allen Opening scenes introducing Homer (Buddy Ebsen), and star Rex Allen, their lawman identities not quite revealed, plus Dorothy Patrick as "Mad," Percy Helton as her father, and various villains, in Under Mexicali Stars, 1950.
Under Mexicali Stars (1950) - Old Black Mountain Trail Newly hired to help with her ranch, Rex Allen (as "himself") reassures Mad (Dorothy Patrick) about his priorities, and a tune by Fred Howard and Nat Vincent, in Under Mexicali Stars, 1950.

Bibliography