Today is the birthday of Eddie Bracken (1915-2002), best known today for his tour de force turns in two Preston Sturges films The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero (1944).
Bracken started out in kiddie acts in vaudeville at the age of 9. He was also one of the stars of the “Kiddie Troupers” series of comedy film shorts, which were intended to be competition to Our Gang/ the Little Rascals.
In 1933, he began to get parts in Broadway shows; his performance in 1939’s Too Many Girls put him over the top. He was cast in the film version the following year and became a familiar face on movie screens until 1953, when he left movies to return to the stage (although he continued to do lots of television). Although I was delighted to see his stuttering visage in a recent screening of John Landis’s 1991 marred-masterpiece Oscar. Bracken’s last role was on an episode of Ed in 2000.
To find out more about vaudeville and former Kiddie Troupers like Eddie Bracken, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous