Franklin Pangborn: Fussbudget


A nod today to that prissy fussbudget Franklin Pangborn (1889-1958). A native of Newark, New Jersey, he started out as a stage actor, eventually managing Alla Nazimova’s touring company before coming to Hollywood to make films. He made silent comedies with a variety of studios for the next four years, but it was really in the sound era that he made his mark as a character comedian, specializing in uptight, exasperated, officious, and undeniably swishy minor functionaries. He started the talkie era doing shorts with Sennett, RKO and Roach, but soon graduated to classic turns in such films as International House (1933), Flying Down to Rio (1933), My Man Godfrey (1936), A Star is Born (1937), Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938), W.C. Fields The Bank Dick (1940), and  Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), Two Weeks to Live (1942) with Lum and Abner, Crazy House (1943) with Olsen and Johnson, Jack Benny’s George Washington Slept Here (1942) and The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945), and practically everything by Preston Sturges. He continued to work right on up until the year of his death.

For more on comedy film history don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc. To find out more about show biz 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.

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