Today is the birthday of Hollywood character actor Dub Taylor (1907-1994). You know Dub Taylor. He’s the one who’s not Strother Martin. He’s the grizzled, leering old cracker who appeared in the ensembles of westerns and comedies and comedy-westerns from the late 1930s to the eve of his death in the early 90s. The 1970s seems like the peak of his career; it was almost as though producers didn’t dare make a movie with a rural or southwestern setting that didn’t have him in it.
Mind you, he was never the sidekick. His characters were always cheerful but treacherous, the kind of a man who sells souvenir postcards at the lynching. Prominent films he’s in included Bonnie and Clyde, and practically everything by Sam Peckinpah, including Major Dundee, The Wild Bunch and Pat Garret and Billy the Kid. But really when I say he was in everything, I mean he was in everything and rather than tire myself out with typing, I give you the link here.
Why do we celebrate him today? Why, he was in vaudeville for five years, playing harmonica and xylophone, until Frank Capra plucked him from obscurity and cast him as Ed in You Can’t Take it With You in 1938. (You’ll recall, come to think of it, that Ed played the xylophone).
Here’s a little promo for a recent documentary made about him.
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 my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc