Felix Knight: Tom-Tom from Toyland

Here’s another post in celebration of a distant relative of mine, opera singer Felix Knight (1908-1998), best remembered for playing Tom-Tom in the Laurel and Hardy holiday movie Babes in Toyland (1934).

Knight was born the son of a Georgia cotton farmer, who died in a hunting accident when the lad was but five. The family then moved to Florida, which is where Knight first began to sing professionally as a teenager. By 1929 he moved to Hollywood, where he took serious vocal classes and began to sing on the radio. Knight’s career was mostly in radio, live theatre, record albums, and television — he did very little film work. Other than Babes in Toyland, you can also see him in The Bohemian Girl (1936), also with Laurel and Hardy; as well as Caravan (1934) with Charles Boyer and Loretta Young; and the shorts Carnival Day (1935) and Springtime in Holland (1936). On Broadway he appeared in It Happens on Ice (190-41), The Merry Widow (1942), and Once Over Lightly (1942). After serving in World War Two, he became a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company for many years. He sang at the Hollywood Bowl with Lily Pons, at Town Hall, and at Carnegie Hall, and was featured on such radio programs as the Schaefer All-Star Parade, NBC’s Music Appreciation Hour, RCA Magic Key, Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air, The Ford Sunday Evening Hour, and Music Hall of the Air. His last years were spent as a singing instructor.

To learn more about show business history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy like the films of Laurel and Hardy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.