Today is the birthday of Glenn Anders (1889-1981). If you’re like me, he’s one of your favorite things about Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai (1947) . Then comes the inevitable question: Who IS that guy?
It turns out he got his start in vaudeville on the Orpheum Circuit in the nineteen-teens. I haven’t had any luck in learning what his act was, although I do note that his first film role was Leon, the Acrobat in Sally of the Sawdust (1925). But Anders had also gone to drama school prior to the vaudeville work, so he may simply have been acting in dramatic sketches.
Anders only made a handful of films in his long (40+ year) career; the bulk of his career was spent in the theatre. He had prominent roles in over three dozen Broadway plays, including the original productions of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude (1928-1929) and Dynamo (1920), Sidney Howard’s They Knew What They Wanted (1930), and Laurence Stallings’ adaptation of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (1930). He retired after the late 1950s.
To find out more 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.