A tribute today tp comic actor Henry Gribbon (1885-1961). Gribbon began as a teenage singer in vaudeville, then joined the comedy team of Heelan and Helf. Subsequent stage credits included supporting Stella Mayhew in the show Flo Flo, and stints working for the likes of Flo Ziegfeld, the Shuberts and George M. Cohan. Affectionately known as “Silk Hat Harry”, Gribbon mostly played stuffy, irate comical villains in the pictures, working off and on for Mack Sennett between 1915 and 1932, sporadically going back into vaudeville, and taking work at other studios like L-KO, Fox Sunshine, Al Christie, Universal and Century.
Gribbon continued to star in comedy shorts well into the talking era, for Sennett, as well as RKO-Pathe (1931), Vitaphone (1934), and Educational (1936-1938). Along the way, he also played roles in some classic comedy features such as Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman (1928), Joe E. Brown’s You Said a Mouthful (1932) and Eddie Cantor’s The Kid from Spain (1932).
Meanwhile he’d begun to return to Broadway with 1934’s Alley Cat. Following his last film in 1938, he was to do 4 more Broadway shows through 1944, including Delicate Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, Mr. Big and Meet a Body.
To learn more about silent and slapstick comedy check out 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
To find out 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.