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…

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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

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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

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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

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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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