Stars of Vaudeville # 557: Eddie Tamblyn
Today is the birthday of Eddie Tamblyn (1907-1957), father of Russ and Larry, grandfather of Amber. Never a star per se, he worked in vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood (which is better than some) and certainly sired stars, whom it must be acknowledged are chips off the old block.
A Yonkers native, he got his start in vaudeville at 14 in a Gus Edwards act. Because of his small size, young face, and athletic dancing prowess, he would continue to play teenage boys and college-age men for the remainder of his career. The rest of the twenties were spent alternating in small roles, understudy gigs and chrous parts in Broadway shows and touring companies…and small time vaudeville and supper club gigs with his dance act, billed variously as the Vernon Revue, the Vernon Trio and the Vernon Four. As stage work dried up in the 30s he moved his growing family to Hollywood, where he got small roles, walk-ons and extra bits. Discouraged (his last part was in 1937), he took a job in an aircraft plant during the Second World War.
Luckily, by his teen years, Eddie’s son Russ was appearing in films, where he would soon be renowned for his atheletic, acrobatic dancing abilities as well as his acting (he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Peyton Place). Fortunately, Eddie lived long enough to see Russ reach the top; sadly he wasn’t around for his many later successes. Eddie’s son Larry, who is about ten years younger than Russ, is a composer, most famous for being the keyboard player of the seminal garage band The Standells.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.