<ptext-align:>Edward Everett Horton (March 18, 1886 – September 29, 1970) was an American character actor. He had a long career in film, theater, radio, television and voice work for animated cartoons. He is especially known for his work in the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
<ptext-align:>Horton was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Isabella S. Diack and Edward Everett Horton. His mother was born in Matanzas, Cuba to Mary Orr and George Diack, immigrants from Scotland. Horton attended the Boys' High School, Brooklyn, and Baltimore City College high school in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was inducted into that school's Hall of Fame. He attended college at Brooklyn Polytechnic and Columbia University, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. He began his college career at Oberlin College, Ohio. He was asked to leave after an incident where he climbed to the top of the Service Building, and after collecting an audience, threw off a dummy, causing the viewers to think he had jumped. His sense of humor exceeded that of the college administration.
<h2text-align:>Stage and film career
<ptext-align:>Horton started his stage career in 1906, singing and dancing and playing small parts in Vaudeville and in Broadway productions. In 1919, he moved toLos Angeles, California, and started getting roles in Hollywood films. His first starring role was in the 1922 comedy film Too Much Business
, and he portrayed the lead role of an idealistic young classical composer in Beggar on Horseback
in 1925. In the late 1920s he starred in two-reel silent comedies for Educational Pictures, and made the transition to talking pictures with Educational in 1929. As a stage trained performer, he found more film work easily, and appeared in some of Warner Bros.' early talkies, including The Hottentot
and Sonny Boy
. His distinctive voice was one of his trademarks.
<ptext-align:>Horton originally went under his given name, Edward Horton. His father persuaded him to adopt his full name professionally, reasoning that there might be other actors named Edward Horton, but only one named Edward Everett
<ptext-align:>Horton's screen character was instantly defined from his earliest talkies: pleasant and dignified, but politely hesitant when faced with a potentially embarrassing situation. Horton soon cultivated his own special variation of the time-honored double take (an actor's reaction to something, followed by a delayed, more extreme reaction). In Horton's version, he would smile ingratiatingly and nod in agreement with what just happened; then, when realization set in, his facial features collapsed entirely into a sober, troubled mask.
<ptext-align:>Horton starred in many comedy features in the 1930s, usually playing a mousy fellow who put up with domestic or professional problems to a certain point, and then finally asserted himself for a happy ending. He is best known, however, for his work as a character actor in supporting roles. Some of his noteworthy films include The Front Page
(1931), Trouble in Paradise
(1932), Alice in Wonderland
(1933), The Gay Divorcee
(1934), Top Hat
(1935, one of several Astaire/Rogers films in which Horton appeared), Danger - Love at Work
(1937), Lost Horizon
(1938),Here Comes Mr. Jordan
(1941), Arsenic and Old Lace
(1944), Pocketful of Miracles
(1961),It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
(1963), and Sex and the Single Girl
(1964). He last appeared in a non-speaking role in Cold Turkey
<ptext-align:>Horton continued to appear in stage productions, often in summer stock. His performance in the play Springtime for Henry
became a perennial in summer theaters.
<ptext-align:>Author F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in a cottage on Horton's estate for a time in the late 1930s.
<h2text-align:>Radio and television
<ptext-align:>From 1945 to 1947, Horton hosted radio's Kraft Music Hall
. During the 1950s, Horton worked in television. One of his most famous appearances is on an episode of CBS's I Love Lucy
, in which he is cast against type as a frisky, amorous suitor. (Horton, a last-minute replacement for another actor, received a special, appreciative credit in this episode.) Beginning in 1959, he narrated the "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment of the The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
. In 1960, he guest starred on ABC's sitcom, The Real McCoys
, as J. Luther Medwick, grandfather of the boyfriend of series character Hassie McCoy (Lydia Reed). In the story line, Medwick clashes with the equally outspoken Grandpa Amos McCoy (Walter Brennan).
<ptext-align:>In 1962, he portrayed the character 'Uncle Ned' in three episodes of the CBS television series Dennis the Menace
. In 1965, he played the medicine man, Roaring Chicken, in the ABC sitcom F Troop
. He parodied this role, portraying "Chief Screaming Chicken" on ABC's Batman
as a pawn to Vincent Price's Egghead in the villain's attempt to take control of Gotham City.
<h2text-align:>Death and influence
<ptext-align:>Horton died of cancer at age 84 in Encino, California. He is buried in Glendale's Whispering Pines section of Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
<ptext-align:>Shortly after he died, the city of Los Angeles renamed a portion of Amestoy Avenue, the dead-end street where he lived in the district of Encino, "Edward Everett Horton Lane". For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Horton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6427 Hollywood Boulevard.
<ptext-align:>In a scene in Friz Freleng's cartoon Hare Trigger
, Yosemite Sam (in his debut) calls himself "the meanest, toughest, rip-roarin'-est, Edward Everett Horton-est hombre what ever packed a six-shooter!"