Today is the birthday of the great character actor Edward Andrews (1914-1985). You probably don’t know the name, but I’ll lay dollars to donuts you know that FACE! God, how I love actors like this. His agent must have been turning down work left and right. First because, he just happens to be the right guy with the right attitude and the right look for SO many roles. And second, after a certain point his face is recognizable and he becomes known for that, so you cast him in an ensemble as though he were a star (and he was, a kind of anonymous star).
An interesting thing about Edward Andrews was that he was large, both tall and heavy. So, despite the fact that he had a sweet, silly, almost child-like face, plus horn-rimmed glasses for God’s sake, he still made effective villains. The other day we watched Tea and Sympathy (1956) on television. In that film, he played an extremely nasty, insensitive, homophobic father. He had this ugly American look. He looked like a Rotarian, a guy who was a big shot in a small town and thought he was cock of the walk…but someone whom, outside his own comfort zone would collapse like a popped balloon. He once played Sinclair Lewis’s George Babbitt (in Elmer Gantry, 1960). How perfect is that?
People my age knew him from movies like Sixteen Candles (1984) and Gremlins (1984). In both cases, the directors (John Hughes and Joe Dante, respectively) clearly cast him because he was “that guy”, the perfect recognizable character actor for the part. By that point, he had been “that guy” for nearly 50 years. Read his list of roles here. Most of his work was in TV, but you’ll see. You know just who this guy is. He was a very sweaty, very funny man.
For more on film history 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. For more on show business history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.