Cole Albert Porter was an American composer and songwriter. Born to a wealthy family in Indiana, he defied the wishes of his domineering grandfather and took up music as a profession. Classically trained, he was drawn to musical theatre. After a slow start, he began to achieve success in the 1920s, by the 1930s he was one of the major songwriters for the Broadway musical stage. Unlike many successful Broadway composers, Porter wrote the lyrics as well as the music for his songs. After a serious horseback riding accident in 1937, Porter was left disabled and in constant pain, but he continued to work, his shows of the early 1940s did not contain the lasting hits of his best work of the 1920s and'30s, but in 1948 he made a triumphant comeback with his most successful musical, Kiss Me, Kate. It won the first Tony Award for Best Musical. Porter's other musicals include Fifty Million Frenchmen, DuBarry Was a Lady, Anything Goes, Can-Can and Silk Stockings, his numerous hit songs include "Night and Day", "Begin the Beguine", "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Well, Did You Evah!", "I've Got You Under My Skin", "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "You're the Top".
He composed scores for films from the 1930s to the 1950s, including Born to Dance, which featured the song "You'd Be So Easy to Love". Porter was born in Peru, the only surviving child of a wealthy family, his father, Samuel Fenwick Porter, was a druggist by trade. His mother, was the indulged daughter of James Omar "J. O." Cole, "the richest man in Indiana", a coal and timber speculator who dominated the family. J. O. Cole built the couple a house on his Peru-area property. After high school, Porter returned to his childhood home only for occasional visits. Porter's strong-willed mother began his musical training at an early age, he learned the violin at age six, the piano at eight, wrote his first operetta at ten. She falsified his recorded birth year, changing it from 1891 to 1893 to make him appear more precocious, his father, a shy and unassertive man, played a lesser role in Porter's upbringing, although as an amateur poet, he may have influenced his son's gifts for rhyme and meter. Porter's father was a talented singer and pianist, but the father-son relationship was not close.
J. O. Cole wanted his grandson to become a lawyer, with that in mind, sent him to Worcester Academy in Massachusetts in 1905. Porter brought an upright piano with him to school and found that music, his ability to entertain, made it easy for him to make friends. Porter did well in school and came home to visit, he became class valedictorian and was rewarded by his grandfather with a tour of France and Germany. Entering Yale University in 1909, Porter majored in English, minored in music, studied French, he was a member of Scroll and Key and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, contributed to campus humor magazine The Yale Record. He was an early member of the Whiffenpoofs a cappella singing group and participated in several other music clubs. Porter wrote 300 songs while at Yale, including student songs such as the football fight songs "Bulldog" and "Bingo Eli Yale" that are still played at Yale today. During college, Porter became acquainted with New York City's vibrant nightlife, taking the train there for dinner and nights on the town with his classmates, before returning to New Haven, early in the morning.
He wrote musical comedy scores for his fraternity, the Yale Dramatic Association, as a student at Harvard – Cora, And the Villain Still Pursued Her, The Pot of Gold, The Kaleidoscope and Paranoia – which helped prepare him for a career as a Broadway and Hollywood composer and lyricist. After graduating from Yale, Porter enrolled in Harvard Law School in 1913, he soon felt that he was not destined to be a lawyer, and, at the suggestion of the dean of the law school, switched to Harvard's music department, where he studied harmony and counterpoint with Pietro Yon. Kate Porter did not object to this move. In 1915, Porter's first song on Broadway, "Esmeralda", appeared in the revue Hands Up; the quick success was followed by failure: his first Broadway production, in 1916, See America First, a "patriotic comic opera" modeled on Gilbert and Sullivan, with a book by T. Lawrason Riggs, was a flop, closing after two weeks. Porter spent the next year in New York City before going overseas during World War I.
In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, Porter moved to Paris to work with the Duryea Relief organization. Some writers have been skeptical about Porter's claim to have served in the French Foreign Legion, but the Legion lists Porter as one of its soldiers and displays his portrait at its museum in Aubagne. By some accounts, he served in North Africa and was transferred to the French Officers School at Fontainebleau, teaching gunnery to American soldiers. An obituary notice in The New York Times said that, while in the Legion, "he had a specially constructed portable piano made for him so that he could carry it on his back and entertain the troops in their bivouacs." Another account, given by Porter, is that he joined the recruiting department of the American Aviation Headquarters, according to his biographer Stephen Citron, there is no record of his joining this or any other branch of the forces. Porter maintained a luxury apartment in Paris, his parties were extrava
The Passing Show
The Passing Show was a musical revue in three acts, billed as a "topical extravaganza", with a book and lyrics by Sydney Rosenfeld and music by Ludwig Engländer and various other composers. It featured spoofs of theatrical productions of the past season; the show was presented in 1894 by George Lederer at the Casino Theatre. It led the fashion for such productions; the Casino Theatre produced a revue each summer thereafter for several seasons. In 1912, Lee and Jacob J. Shubert began an annual series of elaborate Broadway revues using the name The Passing Show of 19XX, designed to compete with the popular Ziegfeld Follies. Although a few entertainments that could be called revues had been presented by such showmen as John Brougham, The Passing Show was the first American revue to use the term, spelling it "review", its now-familiar structure was to use a thin story line to link together sketches. The show was choreographed by Augusto Francioli; the revue opened at the Casino Theatre on May 12, 1894 and ran for 145 performances before touring in the US.
The piece burlesqued theatrical productions of the past season. Among many other sketches, Paul Arthur spoofed Henry Miller, Adele Ritchie portrayed the singer Rosamund, Gus Pixley parodied Rummel, Grace Filkins parodied Rose Coghlan, Mrs. Kendal and Ada Rehan, Mabel Stephenson appeared as Hannele in a parody of the Kilyani films. John E. Henshaw and Queenie Vassar played the character Laf Quickstep and Chollie Keal; the songs included: Old Before His Time Leader of De Company B Riding in the Heavenly Rowboat Some Time Ago – Laf Quickstep The Fellow That Played the Drum – Laf Quickstep Hot Tamales – Chollie Keal, Members of the Dawdle Club and Ensemble Coxey's Army – Armand St. Julien Faversham Annesley, The Judge, District Attorney, Mr. Rowe and Mr. Rummel Round the Operas in Twenty Minutes L'Enfant Prodigue The Phalanx of PhidiasThe New York Times review of the show noted, "We do not know what a topical extravaganza is; the paper wrote that the show contained "elements of amusement" and "a momentary glance at most of the interesting entertainments" of the winter season.
"There was a good deal of pretty music by Mr. Englander, some of Mr. Rosenfeld's lines were bright, but there were great wearisome spaces of emptiness...." The title of the show was used by Lee and Jacob J. Shubert for an annual series of Broadway revues from 1912 to 1924; these were elaborate productions designed to compete with the popular Ziegfeld Follies, which had begun in 1907. Several of these featured music of Sigmund Romberg, George Gershwin, Al Sherman or Herman Finck and were presented at the Winter Garden Theatre. Willie and Eugene Howard starred in many editions of the series. Other stars included Charlotte Greenwood, Marilyn Miller, Ed Wynn, De Wolf Hopper, Charles Winninger, Fred Astaire and his sister Adele, Marie Dressler and Fred Allen. Among the famous songs first sung in the series were "Pretty Baby" and "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles". A planned revival of the series in the 1940s did not make it out of tryouts. Most of the librettos for the series were written by Harold R. Atteridge, the Shuberts' in‐house librettist, who created over forty musicals for them.
Most of the Shubert shows were staged by J. C. Huffman; the Passing Show of 1916 The Passing Show of 1918 The Passing Show at the IBDB database Notes about The Passing Show at the Shubert Archive
Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 18th century. A vaudeville was a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets, it became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent. In some ways analogous to music hall from Victorian Britain, a typical American vaudeville performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts have included popular and classical musicians, dancers, trained animals, ventriloquists, strongmen and male impersonators, illustrated songs, one-act plays or scenes from plays, lecturing celebrities and movies. A vaudeville performer is referred to as a "vaudevillian". Vaudeville developed from many sources including the concert saloon, freak shows, dime museums, literary American burlesque.
Called "the heart of American show business", vaudeville was one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America for several decades. The origin of the term is obscure, but is explained as being derived from the French expression voix de ville. A second speculation is that it comes from the 15th-century songs on satire by poet Olivier Basselin, "Vaux de Vire". In his Connections television series, science historian James Burke argues that the term is a corruption of the French "Vau de Vire", an area known for its bawdy drinking songs and where Basselin lived. Some, preferred the earlier term "variety" to what manager Tony Pastor called its "sissy and Frenchified" successor. Thus, vaudeville was marketed as "variety" well into the 20th century. With its first subtle appearances within the early 1860s, vaudeville was not a common form of entertainment; the form evolved from the concert saloon and variety hall into its mature form throughout the 1870s and 1880s. This more gentle form was known as "Polite Vaudeville".
In the years before the American Civil War, entertainment existed on a different scale. Variety theatre existed before 1860 in Europe and elsewhere. In the US, as early as the first decades of the 19th century, theatregoers could enjoy a performance consisting of Shakespeare plays, singing and comedy; as the years progressed, people seeking diversified amusement found an increasing number of ways to be entertained. Vaudeville was characterized by traveling companies touring through towns. A handful of circuses toured the country. In the 1840s, the minstrel show, another type of variety performance, "the first emanation of a pervasive and purely American mass culture", grew to enormous popularity and formed what Nick Tosches called "the heart of 19th-century show business". A significant influence came from Dutch minstrels and comedians. Medicine shows traveled the countryside offering programs of comedy, music and other novelties along with displays of tonics and miracle elixirs, while "Wild West" shows provided romantic vistas of the disappearing frontier, complete with trick riding and drama.
Vaudeville incorporated these various itinerant amusements into a stable, institutionalized form centered in America's growing urban hubs. In the early 1880s, impresario Tony Pastor, a circus ringmaster turned theatre manager, capitalized on middle class sensibilities and spending power when he began to feature "polite" variety programs in several of his New York City theatres; the usual date given for the "birth" of vaudeville is October 24, 1881 at New York's Fourteenth Street Theatre, when Pastor famously staged the first bill of self-proclaimed "clean" vaudeville in New York City. Hoping to draw a potential audience from female and family-based shopping traffic uptown, Pastor barred the sale of liquor in his theatres, eliminated bawdy material from his shows, offered gifts of coal and hams to attendees. Pastor's experiment proved successful, other managers soon followed suit. B. F. Keith took the next step, starting in Boston, where he built an empire of theatres and brought vaudeville to the US and Canada.
E. F. Albee, adoptive grandfather of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, managed the chain to its greatest success. Circuits such as those managed by Keith-Albee provided vaudeville's greatest economic innovation and the principal source of its industrial strength, they enabled a chain of allied vaudeville houses that remedied the chaos of the single-theatre booking system by contracting acts for regional and national tours. These could be lengthened from a few weeks to two years. Albee gave national prominence to vaudeville's trumpeting "polite" entertainment, a commitment to entertainment inoffensive to men and children. Acts that violated this ethos were admonished and threatened with expulsion from the week's remaining performances or were canceled altogether. In spite of such threats, performers flouted this censorship to the delight of the audience members whose sensibilities were supposedly
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. referred to as Warner Bros. and abbreviated as WB, is an American entertainment company headquartered in Burbank, California and a subsidiary of AT&T's WarnerMedia. Founded in 1923, it has operations in film and video games and is one of the "Big Five" major American film studios, as well as a member of the Motion Picture Association of America; the company's name originated from the four founding Warner brothers: Harry, Albert and Jack Warner. Harry and Sam emigrated as young children with their parents to Canada from Krasnosielc, Poland. Jack, the youngest brother, was born in Ontario; the three elder brothers began in the movie theater business, having acquired a movie projector with which they showed films in the mining towns of Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the beginning and Albert Warner invested $150 to present Life of an American Fireman and The Great Train Robbery, they opened their first theater, the Cascade, in New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1903. When the original building was in danger of being demolished, the modern Warner Bros. called the current building owners, arranged to save it.
The owners noted people across the country had asked them to protect it for its historical significance. In 1904, the Warners founded the Pittsburgh-based Duquesne Amusement & Supply Company, to distribute films. In 1912, Harry Warner hired. By the time of World War I they had begun producing films. In 1918 they opened the first Warner Brothers Studio on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Sam and Jack produced the pictures, while Harry and Albert, along with their auditor and now controller Chase, handled finance and distribution in New York City. During World War I their first nationally syndicated film, My Four Years in Germany, based on a popular book by former ambassador James W. Gerard, was released. On April 4, 1923, with help from money loaned to Harry by his banker Motley Flint, they formally incorporated as Warner Bros. Pictures, Incorporated; the first important deal was the acquisition of the rights to Avery Hopwood's 1919 Broadway play, The Gold Diggers, from theatrical impresario David Belasco.
However, Rin Tin Tin, a dog brought from France after World War I by an American soldier, established their reputation. Rin Tin Tin debuted in the feature; the movie was so successful. Rin Tin Tin became the studio's top star. Jack nicknamed him "The Mortgage Lifter" and the success boosted Darryl F. Zanuck's career. Zanuck became a top producer and between 1928 and 1933 served as Jack's right-hand man and executive producer, with responsibilities including day-to-day film production. More success came. Lubitsch's film The Marriage Circle was the studio's most successful film of 1924, was on The New York Times best list for that year. Despite the success of Rin Tin Tin and Lubitsch, Warner's remained a lesser studio. Sam and Jack decided to offer Broadway actor John Barrymore the lead role in Beau Brummel; the film was so successful. By the end of 1924, Warner Bros. was arguably Hollywood's most successful independent studio, where it competed with "The Big Three" Studios. As a result, Harry Warner—while speaking at a convention of 1,500 independent exhibitors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin—was able to convince the filmmakers to spend $500,000 in newspaper advertising, Harry saw this as an opportunity to establish theaters in cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
As the studio prospered, it gained backing from Wall Street, in 1924 Goldman Sachs arranged a major loan. With this new money, the Warners bought the pioneer Vitagraph Company which had a nationwide distribution system. In 1925, Warners' experimented in radio, establishing a successful radio station, KFWB, in Los Angeles. Warner Bros. was a pioneer of films with synchronized sound. In 1925, at Sam's urging, Warner's agreed to add this feature to their productions. By February 1926, the studio reported a net loss of $333,413. After a long period denying Sam's request for sound, Harry agreed to change, as long as the studio's use of synchronized sound was for background music purposes only; the Warners signed a contract with the sound engineer company Western Electric and established Vitaphone. In 1926, Vitaphone began making films with music and effects tracks, most notably, in the feature Don Juan starring John Barrymore; the film was silent. To hype Don Juan's release, Harry acquired the large Piccadilly Theater in Manhattan, New York City, renamed it Warners' Theatre.
Don Juan premiered at the Warners' Theatre in New York on August 6, 1926. Throughout the early history of film distribution, theater owners hired orchestras to attend film showings, where they provided soundtracks. Through Vitaphone, Warner Bros. produced eight shorts in 1926. Many film production companies questioned the necessity. Don Juan did not recoup its production cost and Lubitsch left for MGM. By April 1927, the Big Five studios had ruined Warner's, Western Electric renewed Warner's Vit
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; the word derives from Greek μουσική. See glossary of musical terminology. In its most general form, the activities describing music as an art form or cultural activity include the creation of works of music, the criticism of music, the study of the history of music, the aesthetic examination of music. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies and vertically as harmonies. Common sayings such as "the harmony of the spheres" and "it is music to my ears" point to the notion that music is ordered and pleasant to listen to. However, 20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, for example, "There is no noise, only sound."The creation, performance and the definition of music vary according to culture and social context.
Indeed, throughout history, some new forms or styles of music have been criticized as "not being music", including Beethoven's Grosse Fuge string quartet in 1825, early jazz in the beginning of the 1900s and hardcore punk in the 1980s. There are many types of music, including popular music, traditional music, art music, music written for religious ceremonies and work songs such as chanteys. Music ranges from organized compositions–such as Classical music symphonies from the 1700s and 1800s, through to spontaneously played improvisational music such as jazz, avant-garde styles of chance-based contemporary music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Music can be divided into genres and genres can be further divided into subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are subtle, sometimes open to personal interpretation, controversial. For example, it can be hard to draw the line between heavy metal. Within the arts, music may be classified as a fine art or as an auditory art.
Music may be played or sung and heard live at a rock concert or orchestra performance, heard live as part of a dramatic work, or it may be recorded and listened to on a radio, MP3 player, CD player, smartphone or as film score or TV show. In many cultures, music is an important part of people's way of life, as it plays a key role in religious rituals, rite of passage ceremonies, social activities and cultural activities ranging from amateur karaoke singing to playing in an amateur funk band or singing in a community choir. People may make music as a hobby, like a teen playing cello in a youth orchestra, or work as a professional musician or singer; the music industry includes the individuals who create new songs and musical pieces, individuals who perform music, individuals who record music, individuals who organize concert tours, individuals who sell recordings, sheet music, scores to customers. The word derives from Greek μουσική. In Greek mythology, the nine Muses were the goddesses who inspired literature and the arts and who were the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, song-lyrics, myths in the Greek culture.
According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, the term "music" is derived from "mid-13c. Musike, from Old French musique and directly from Latin musica "the art of music," including poetry." This is derived from the "... Greek mousike " of the Muses," from fem. of mousikos "pertaining to the Muses," from Mousa "Muse". Modern spelling from 1630s. In classical Greece, any art in which the Muses presided, but music and lyric poetry." Music is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. When music was only available through sheet music scores, such as during the Classical and Romantic eras, music lovers would buy the sheet music of their favourite pieces and songs so that they could perform them at home on the piano. With the advent of sound recording, records of popular songs, rather than sheet music became the dominant way that music lovers would enjoy their favourite songs. With the advent of home tape recorders in the 1980s and digital music in the 1990s, music lovers could make tapes or playlists of their favourite songs and take them with them on a portable cassette player or MP3 player.
Some music lovers create mix tapes of their favorite songs, which serve as a "self-portrait, a gesture of friendship, prescription for an ideal party... an environment consisting of what is most ardently loved."Amateur musicians can compose or perf
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film studio based in Hollywood, a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, the sole member of the "Big Five" film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood. In 1916, film producer Adolph Zukor put 22 actors and actresses under contract and honored each with a star on the logo. In 2014, Paramount Pictures became the first major Hollywood studio to distribute all of its films in digital form only; the company's headquarters and studios are located at 5555 Melrose Avenue, California, United States. Paramount Pictures is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world after the French studios Gaumont Film Company and Pathé, followed by the Nordisk Film company, Universal Studios, it is the last major film studio still headquartered in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.
Paramount Pictures dates its existence from the 1912 founding date of the Famous Players Film Company. Hungarian-born founder Adolph Zukor, an early investor in nickelodeons, saw that movies appealed to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohman and Charles Frohman he planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time. By mid-1913, Famous Players had completed five films, Zukor was on his way to success, its first film was Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth. That same year, another aspiring producer, Jesse L. Lasky, opened his Lasky Feature Play Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish known as Samuel Goldwyn; the Lasky company hired as their first employee a stage director with no film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first feature film, The Squaw Man. Starting in 1914, both Lasky and Famous Players released their films through a start-up company, Paramount Pictures Corporation, organized early that year by a Utah theatre owner, W. W. Hodkinson, who had bought and merged several smaller firms.
Hodkinson and actor, producer Hobart Bosworth had started production of a series of Jack London movies. Paramount was the first successful nationwide distributor. Famous Players and Lasky were owned while Paramount was a corporation. In 1916, Zukor maneuvered a three-way merger of his Famous Players, the Lasky Company, Paramount. Zukor and Lasky bought Hodkinson out of Paramount, merged the three companies into one; the new company Lasky and Zukor founded, Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, grew with Lasky and his partners Goldwyn and DeMille running the production side, Hiram Abrams in charge of distribution, Zukor making great plans. With only the exhibitor-owned First National as a rival, Famous Players-Lasky and its "Paramount Pictures" soon dominated the business; because Zukor believed in stars, he signed and developed many of the leading early stars, including Mary Pickford, Marguerite Clark, Pauline Frederick, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, Wallace Reid. With so many important players, Paramount was able to introduce "block booking", which meant that an exhibitor who wanted a particular star's films had to buy a year's worth of other Paramount productions.
It was this system that gave Paramount a leading position in the 1920s and 1930s, but which led the government to pursue it on antitrust grounds for more than twenty years. The driving force behind Paramount's rise was Zukor. Through the teens and twenties, he built the Publix Theatres Corporation, a chain of nearly 2,000 screens, ran two production studios, became an early investor in radio, taking a 50% interest in the new Columbia Broadcasting System in 1928. In 1926, Zukor hired independent producer B. P. Schulberg, an unerring eye for new talent, to run the new West Coast operations, they purchased the Robert Brunton Studios, a 26-acre facility at 5451 Marathon Street for US$1 million. In 1927, Famous Players-Lasky took the name Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation. Three years because of the importance of the Publix Theatres, it became Paramount Publix Corporation. In 1928, Paramount began releasing Inkwell Imps, animated cartoons produced by Max and Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios in New York City.
The Fleischers, veterans in the animation industry, were among the few animation producers capable of challenging the prominence of Walt Disney. The Paramount newsreel series Paramount News ran from 1927 to 1957. Paramount was one of the first Hollywood studios to release what were known at that time as "talkies", in 1929, released their first musical, Innocents of Paris. Richard A. Whiting and Leo Robin composed the score for the film. By acquiring the successful Balaban & Katz chain in 1926, Zukor gained the services of Barney Balaban, his brother A. J. Balaban, their partner Sam Katz (who would run the Paramount-Publix theatre chain in New York City from the thirty-five-stor
Isaiah Edwin Leopold, better known as Ed Wynn, was an American actor and comedian noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, his career as a dramatic actor. Wynn was born Isaiah Edwin Leopold in Pennsylvania, his father, who manufactured and sold women's hats, was born in Bohemia. His mother, Minnie Greenberg, of Romanian and Turkish ancestry, came from Istanbul. Wynn attended Central High School in Philadelphia until age 15, he ran away from home in his teens, worked as a hat salesman, as a utility boy, adapted his middle name "Edwin" into his new stage name, "Ed Wynn", to save his family the embarrassment of having a lowly comedian as a relative. Wynn began his career in vaudeville in 1903 and was a star of the Ziegfeld Follies starting in 1914. During The Follies of 1915, W. C. Fields caught Wynn mugging for the audience under the table during Fields' Pool Room routine and knocked Wynn unconscious with his cue. Wynn wrote and produced many Broadway shows in the subsequent decades, was known for his silly costumes and props as well as for the giggly, wavering voice he developed for the 1921 musical revue, The Perfect Fool.
In the early 1930s Wynn hosted the popular radio show The Fire Chief, heard in North America on Tuesday nights, sponsored by Texaco gasoline. Like many former vaudeville performers who turned to radio in the same decade, the stage-trained Wynn insisted on playing for a live studio audience, doing each program as an actual stage show, using visual bits to augment his written material, in his case, wearing a colorful costume with a red fireman's helmet, he bounced his gags off announcer/straight man Graham McNamee. I don't know, it won't go anyplace without a rattle!" Wynn reprised his Fire Chief radio character in two movies, Follow The Chief. Near the height of his radio fame he founded his own short-lived radio network the Amalgamated Broadcasting System, which lasted only five weeks, nearly destroying the comedian. According to radio historian Elizabeth McLeod, the failed venture left Wynn deep in debt and suffering a nervous breakdown. Wynn was offered the title role in MGM's 1939 screen adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, but turned it down, as did his Ziegfeld contemporary W. C.
Fields. The part went to Frank Morgan. Ed Wynn first appeared on television on July 7, 1936 in a brief, ad-libbed spot with Graham McNamee during an NBC experimental television broadcast. In the 1949–50 season, Ed Wynn hosted one of the first network, comedy-variety television shows, on CBS, won both a Peabody Award and an Emmy Award in 1949. Buster Keaton, Lucille Ball, The Three Stooges all made guest appearances with Wynn; this was the first CBS variety television show to originate from Los Angeles, seen live on the west coast, but filmed via kinescope for distribution in the Midwest and East, as the national coaxial cable had yet to be completed. Wynn was a rotating host of NBC's Four Star Revue from 1950 through 1952. After the end of Wynn's third television series, The Ed Wynn Show, his son, actor Keenan Wynn, encouraged him to make a career change rather than retire; the comedian reluctantly began a career as a dramatic actor in television and movies. Father and son appeared in three productions, the first of, the 1956 Playhouse 90 broadcast of Rod Serling's play Requiem for a Heavyweight.
Ed was kept goofing his lines in rehearsal. When the producers wanted to fire him, star Jack Palance said. On live broadcast night, Wynn surprised everyone with his pitch-perfect performance, his quick ad libs to cover his mistakes. A dramatization of what happened during the production was staged as an April 1960 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse episode, "The Man in the Funny Suit", starring both senior and junior Wynns, with key figures involved in the original production portraying themselves. Ed and his son worked together in the Jose Ferrer film The Great Man, with Ed again proving his unexpected skills in drama. Requiem established Wynn as a serious dramatic actor who could hold his own with the best, his performance in The Diary of Anne Frank received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 1959, Wynn appeared on Serling's TV series The Twilight Zone in "One for the Angels". Serling, a longtime admirer, had written that episode for him, Wynn in 1963 starred in the episode "Ninety Years Without Slumbering".
For the rest of his life, Wynn skillfully moved between dramatic roles. He appeared in anthology television, endearing himself to new generations of fans. Wynn was caricatured in the Merrie Melodies cartoon shorts Shuffle Off to Buffalo and I've Got to Sing a Torch Song, as a pot of jam in the Betty Boop short Betty in Blunderland, he appeared as the Fairy Godfather in Jerry Lewis' Cinderfella. His performance as Paul Beaseley in the 1958 film The Great Man earned him nominations for a Golden Globe Award for "Best Supporting Actor" and a BAFTA Award for "Best Foreign Actor"; the following year he received his first nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mr. Dussell in The Diary of Anne Frank. Six