Today is the birthday of Eddie Quillan (1907-1990). Quillan was a man with many show biz lives. 1) He started out with his parents and siblings in the family vaudeville act “The Rising Generation”, starting age seven. 2) In 1922 the whole family took screen tests for Mack Sennett. Eddie was the only one who got the call. He co-starred in about two dozen comedies for Sennett through the 20s, often as a sort of imitation Harry Langdon. 3) He graduated to good roles in major pictures in the late 20s and 30s, including Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940 — he played the no goodnik brother-in-law Connie who runs off on Rose-of-Sharon when she gets pregnant), 4) A “B” movie career in the 40s. 5) A series of comedy shorts for Columbia, teamed with Wally Vernon, produced by Jules White (1948-1956), 5) bit roles in films through the 60s, including several Don Knotts pictures, 6) tons of appearances on television from the late 50s through the late 80s. It is a certainty that you have seen his face many times!
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. Also please keep a look out for Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies From Nickelodeon to Youtube, coming out in September 2012