Happy 120th Birthday, Charles Butterworth!

Charles Butterworth was born 120 years today in South Bend, Indiana. He’s in the rarefied company of greats like Roland Young, Charles Ruggles and Edward Everett Horton when it comes to making 1930s comedies just that much funnier. Here are ten CB Did-You-Knows:

  • Butterworth earned a law degree from the University of Notre Dame, but never practiced, instead entering the journalism field.
  • He worked as a journalist for the Chicago American. During those years, he established friendships with Heywood Hale Broun and humorist Frank Sullivan, who was instrumental in Butterworth getting radio work.
  • When Butterworth first arrived in New York, he worked for the New York Times as a circulation department canvasser.
  • Butterworth also worked as a secretary to author J. P. McEvoy, who was at the time writing the book for a musical called Americana. This gave Butterworth an entrée into the world of theater. He would go on to appear in several Broadway musicals of the 1920s, among them Allez Oop, Good Boy, Sweet Adeline and Flying Colors.
  • His first credited film appearance (following a couple of brief, uncredited appearances) was in The Life of the Party (1930).
  • Butterworth was known to be adept with humorous ad libs, so much so that some of the screenwriters he worked with in Hollywood came to rely on his ability to fill out an underwritten part with pithy lines of his own making.
  • Butterworth was very close friends with fellow humorist Robert Benchley. Benchley is sometimes credited with the line quoted in today’s quote graphic, but he said Butterworth, who spoke the line in Every Day’s a Holiday (1937), but is said to have orginally ad-libbed the quip after falling into a pool at a party.
  • Butterworth’s familiar screen character is said to have been the inspiration for cereal mascot Cap’n Crunch.
  • He died in 1946 in a single-car automobile accident on Sunset Boulevard. It’s been suggested in some corners that his death was not accidental, that he was despondent over the passing of his pal Benchley some months earlier, but that’s not ever been proven.
  • At the time of his death, Butterworth was engaged to actress Natalie Schafer, who would later be cast as Mrs. Thurston Howell III on the television sitcom Gilligan’s Island.

Happy birthday, Charles Butterworth, wherever you may be!

Charles Butterworth

Happy 130th Birthday, Edward Everett Horton!

Edward Everett Horton, born 130 years ago today in Brooklyn, New York, was one of a small cadre of character actors—we’d include Roland Young and Charles Ruggles in that select group—who could be counted upon to provide a boost to any movie comedy of the 1930s and ’40s in which they appeared, and happily, he seems to turn up in about every third film from that era.

Among the classic films he appears are pictures such as Holiday (both the 1930 and 1938 versions!), The Front Page (1931), Trouble in Paradise (1933), Design for Living (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Arsenic and Old Lace, and the list goes on and on. He also worked extensively in television, including his gig as the narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales on Rocky and His Friends.

Happy birthday, Mr. Horton, wherever you may be!

Edward Everett Horton

Question of the day

We won’t lie to you (we never do) — we’ve been disappointed that there haven’t been more comments here at Cladrite Radio since our launch some months back.

But it turns out that (as a kindly member of the Cladrite Clan pointed out to us today) our settings didn’t allow comments (boy, are our faces red)!

We’ve rectified that problem now, and you can comment to your heart’s content. And to celebrate our finally solving this previously unrecognized problem, we’re bumping our first Question of the Day entry to the top of the page, so those of you who’d like to share your favorite obscure pre-1955 movie with us can finally do so.

Sorry for the confusion!

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What’s your favorite pre-1955 movie that you’re convinced no one else (no one among your friends and family, anyway) has seen?

Ours would be the 1932 Ernst Lubitsch classic Trouble in Paradise. Starring Herbert Marshall, Kay Francis, and Miriam Hopkins, with stellar turns in smaller roles by Charles Ruggles, Edward Everett Horton, and C. Aubrey Smith, this wonderful romantic comedy is well nigh perfect — sly, sexy and sophisticated, exuding the famous Lubitsch touch from start to finish.

It’s not a movie for the callow, but for anyone who’s lived a bit, it fairly sparkles.

How about you — what’s the one lesser-known pre-1955 picture you’d urge your friends (and us) to see?