Today is the birthday of Wally Brown (1904-1961). A Massachusetts native, Brown had been monologist in vaudeville and finally made it to pictures at RKO in 1943. Initially appearing in a Leon Errol short and a Lupe Velez “Mexican Spitfire” feature, he was next teamed with Alan Carney as the studio’s answer to Abbott and Costello. The team appeared in a few features together as Brown and Carney, starting with Adventures of a Rookie (1943) and ending with Zombies on Broadway (1945), a follow-up to Val Lewton’s I Walked with a Zombie, co-starring Bela Lugosi. Throughout, Brown continued to act on his own, and had a flourishing career in films and television until he passed away. He had his own series of comedy shorts at RKO from 1949 to 1951, and appeared in such a diverse array of films as Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1956), to Mamie Van Doren’s Untamed Youth (1957) to Disney’s The Absent-Minded Professor (1961).
Because it’s the Halloween season, today we give you Brown and Carney in Zombies on Broadway:
To find out more about vaudeville 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.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy please see 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