Carl Brisson: From the Ring to Radio

A brief thing on Danish singer, actor and sometime pugilist Carl Brisson (Carl Frederik Ejnar Pedersen, 1893-1958).

Brisson was only in about a dozen films, but three of them are moderately well-known semi classics, including two early silent films by Alfred Hitchcock, The Ring (1927) and The Manxman (1928), and the Hollywood musical Murder at the Vanities (1934), in which he introduced the song “Cocktails for Two”.

A 1923 West End revival of The Merry Widow had made Brisson an English stage star. That and early experience as a boxer (1912-15) led to his being cast as the lead in The Ring.

(looks dreamy) Mmmmmm. Danish Ring.

(shakes it off)

The American Prisoner (1929) opposite Madeleine Carroll (later of The 39 Steps, Secret Agent and My Favorite Blonde) was his first talkie. Most of his films were British, but following Murder at the Vanities, he was in two additional Hollywood movies All the King’s Horses (1935) with Edward Everett Horton, based on the Frederick Herendeen stage musical of the previous year, and Ship Cafe (1935), directed by Robert Florey, with Arline Judge and William Frawley.

Following this brief screen career, Brisson returned to singing in night clubs and hotel ballrooms. His thick accent was apparently an issue, and remained one when he starred in his own radio show in 1946, the Mutual Network’s, Voice in the Night, in which he played a singing detective. Later he appeared on Hedda Hopper’s radio program, and The Kate Smith Evening Hour. By the late ’50s, Brisson had returned to his native Copenhagen, where he died at age 65 of jaundice.

His son, Frederick Brisson (1912-84) married Rosalind Russell, and was producer on such films as The Pajama Game (1957) and Damn Yankees (1958).

For more on show biz history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on early film history read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.