Two True Cootes

Albert Bert” Coote (1867-1938) was the son of Robert Coote (1834-1888) a popular British music composer. Bert first went onstage himself at age five, appearing throughout his childhood in melodramas and other entertainments such as Babes in the Wood, East Lynne, Robin Hood, and Gulliver’s Travels. In 1895 he scored a hit as the title character in The New Boy, the advertising materials for which, some believe, were a genius for the Alfred E. Neuman character later adopted as the mascot for Mad Magazine. Coote also toured American vaudeville circuits for 20 years scoring a particular hit with a sketch called “A Lamb on Wall Street”. Late in life, Coote appeared in four films: Greek Street (1930), Such is the Law (1930), Bracelets (1931) and Two Hearts in Waltz Time (1934). His son was:

Robert Coote (1909-1982) is best known for his roles in the original productions of two Broadway musicals: Pickering in My Fair Lady (1956) and Pelinore in Camelot (1960). Coote was a member of the British colony in Hollywood, and good friends with David Niven. Coote’s 74 British and American screen credits include such things as A Yank at Oxford (1938), Gunga Din (1939), Powell-Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), The Three Musketeers (1948), The Elusive Pimpernel (1950), Orson Welles’ Othello (1951), Scaramouche (1952), The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), Danny Kaye’s Merry Andrew (1958), The Horse’s Mouth (1958), and The V.I.P.s (1960). His stodgy, old-fogy perrsonality was put to good use in youth comedies in the ’60s, such as The Swinger (1966), The Cool Ones (1967), and Prudence and the Pill (1968). He also played one of the critics upon whom Vincent Price wreaks his revenge in the exquisite Theatre of Blood (1973). His final appearance was on William Conrad’s Nero Wolfe series in 1981.

For more on the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.