Edward Everett Horton, Unmistakable Character

When I was little, my first introduction to Edward Everett Horton was not exactly how I think of him now. I didn’t even know what he looked like back then. He was only a faceless voice to me. That unmistakable voice. It was graveley yet in a soft and soothing way. Perhaps because he was the voice of Fractured Fables on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, my morning routine as a small tyke.

Then I began to know him via film. One by one, I became familiar with this man through each of his film roles. And there were so many- over 120 films! I have an overt bias to films of the 1930’s, preferably the early 30’s; and EE Horton was in his prime for this era of motion pictures. He dominated comedies as the supporting character we all loved to see.  EE Horton: “I have my own little kingdom. I do the scavenger parts no one else wants and I get well paid for it.”

Born a Brooklyn kid on March 18, 1886, but his speech and demeanor allowed him to often play the part of an aristocrat, anxious fussbudget or European-cultured man servant. He started on the stage and moved into silents. But it’s his distinctive voice coupled with his “triple take” signature look that lead to him playing the favorite sidekick of 30’s comedies. It certainly didn’t hurt any that he also started many of his talkies working with none other than Ernst Lubitsch.

In real life, Horton was known to be a frugal man but he knew how to spend his money where it counts. He invested in a 22 acres estate in California with a compound of houses to share with his family- including his mother (who lived to be a centenarian) and his siblings. He never married and rumors have asserted that his lifetime partner was actor Gavin Gordon. But if so, he kept his sexuality status a very private matter as no documentation can verify with certainty. Up until cancer suddenly striking at age 83, he tirelessly worked for decades across all opportunities of acting medium. At the mere suggestion of retirement at the age of 80, he protested: ” Dear Lord! I would go right out of my mind.” I for one, I am very grateful for his hard-working commitment to his craft.

Gallery of EE Horton…

edward-everett-horton

the lovable “nervous nellie”

ROAR OF THE DRAGON

ROAR OF THE DRAGON

Playing the wing man to Fred Astaire

Playing the wing man to Fred Astaire

Horton partnered up with Astaire in five films

Horton partnered up with Astaire in five films

EEHorton_Grable

Horton k-k-kicking it with Betty Grable, in his swim trunks

EEHorton as the MadHatter

EEHorton as the MadHatter

Edward Everett Horton and Carmen Miranda

Clowning around with Carmen Miranda for “Springtime in the Rockies” (1942)

Stached EEHorton, fellow famed character actor Zazu Pitts

Stached EEHorton, fellow famed character actor Zazu Pitts

with Miriam Hopkins

with Miriam Hopkins

EEHorton_VPrice

Batman TV series favorite EE Horton chumming with co-star Vincent Price

From stage to radio to screen, Edward Everett Horton was a multi medium master

From stage to radio to screen, Edward Everett Horton was a multi medium master including reviving his role as Henry in “Springtime For Henry” over 3,000 times

Eedward_horton_old

a delightful smile from a truly delightful man who lived a full life indeed

This piece was written in conjunction with the 3rd annual WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON hosted by Aurora of ONCE UPON A SCREEN, Paula of PAULA’S CINEMA CLUB and yours truly. Review day one, day two and day three of the fabulous list of talented entries for more reading enjoyment!

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Comments

  1. AMEN! Tireless triple-take terrific-ness! LOVE HIM! 😀

    Aurora

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  2. I learned so much (he was from Brooklyn not Britain!) about beloved Mr. Horton here – and was reminded of something I can’t believe I forgot, that he was part of (also beloved) Rocky & Bullwinkle, one of the great animated series of all time. My brother and I were addicted.

    As great as Astaire was paired with Rogers, I don’t think anyone surpassed Edward Everett Horton as Astaire’s non-dancing partner.

    Great post on one of the best “sidekick” players ever.

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    • Oh those Rocky & Bullwinkle shows were the best, were’nt they? Yeah, the Brooklyn thing threw me for a loop too. Who would have ever guessed that, eh? Thanks for reading my post!

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  3. I saw EEH in one silent movie (La boheme) and it was so frustration to see that familiar face and not to hear his familiar voice. I don’t think he had any lines in his last movie (Cold Turkey), but he was still the consummate funny man. Loved the gallery.

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    • Thanks, Patricia!! There are still films of his out there that I have yet to see and hope to eventually see them all. But I could (and have) watch his 30’s comedies over and over again….

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  4. I had no idea he did Fractured Fables! I haven’t seen those in years (long before I ever started watching his movies) and I suddenly really want to go back and see those. 🙂 He’s always one of the highlights of anything he’s in!

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  5. Wonderful tribute, Kellee. Edward Everett Horton is one of my all-time faves. Whenever you see his name in the credits you know you’re in for a treat.

    Here’s to EE Horton! *clink!*

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  6. The very definition of a movie character! Just seeing him (or hearing him) makes me smile. Your post made me smile, too! 🙂

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  7. Those triple takes! He is indeed an unmistakeable character. I also adore him in the early 1930s roles, but hurray that he kept working for so long! Thanks for a wonderful post and for co-hosting this amazing blogathon!

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  8. I also remember Horton’s voice from Fractured Fairy Tales – and his film his presence, both visually and aurally, was so distinct! One of my absolute faves, thanks so much!

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  9. Amazing tribute – Edward Everett Horton is such a deserved contender for this blogathon. HIs name is like a quality hallmark. I think my favourite films are the ones he starred in with Astaire and Rogers – a perfect complement to their personalities.

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  10. Yes, I also remember first as the incomparable narrator of “Fractured Fairly Tales.” But then I saw him in THE GAY DIVORCEE and became a EEH fan for life. He was always delightful, but I specially enjoy your pairings with Eric Blore.

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  11. Thanks for the wonderful tribute. Although I have long been a fan of Horton’s work, I never actually knew much about the man himself. Born in Brooklyn? Wow. I always pegged him as upper-crust of England type of guy. Just goes to show how great of a character the man really was. Keep up the good work!

    M. Allen for Classic Movie Hub

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  12. What a great post! Horton was one of those greats that we sometimes take for granted. I love the spotlight you’ve placed on him. Well deserved.

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  13. Mary Lovell says:

    When Mr Horton was in Massachusetts performing in the summer theater here, he stayed with my Mother’s friends in Magnolia, Massachusetts. I grew up (now 57) hearing about how wonderful he was. My Mother’s friends looked forward to his visits in the summer. They loved him and so enjoyed his company. Anyway, I wanted to let people know that he was also a very nice and entertaining person- off the stage too.

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  14. One of my favorites, too! Hope you enjoyed the short with him I played at Capitolfest.

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    • YES! EE Horton has one of the most soothing voices that make me feel safe. I honestly think it’s because of his narration of Fractured Fairy Tales from my childhood memories!

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  2. […] Outspoken & Freckled on the aristocrat, anxious fussbudget with the signature triple-take, Edward Everett Horton. […]

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