Here are 10 things you should know about Jimmy Conlin, born 136 years ago today. The prolific character actor transitioned from vaudeville to motion pictures in the early 1930s.
Jimmy Conlin is a face (if not a name) familiar to most movie buffs, thanks to his appearances in more than 150 features and shorts in movie career that spanned three decades.
Conlin, born October 14, 1884, in Camden, New Jersey, is perhaps best remembered today as a key member of Preston Sturges‘ stock company; he can be seen in nine of that director’s pictures, among them classics such as The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story and Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.
His scrawny physique and odd countenance made him well-suited to comedy, but it wasn’t just his appearance that got laughs. He and his first wife, Myrtle Glass, toured extensively in vaudeville, honing their comedic chops in a rough-and-tumble song-and-dance act called, appropriately enough, Conlin and Glass.
And what an act it was! The diminutive Conlin definitely got the worst of it from the more imposing Glass (she’s no taller than he is, but you’d swear she was).
The duo appeared in two Vitaphone shorts, Zip! Boom! Bang! (1929), that seems to be a lost film (though Vitaphone shorts are being recovered and restored with some frequency nowadays, so keep your fingers crossed) and Sharps and Flats (1928), which, fortunately, still exists.
I’ve been on hand for several different screenings of “Sharps and Flats” at NYC’s Film Forum during evenings devoted entirely to Vitaphone shorts, and the response has always been overwhelmingly positive. The uproarious comedy stylings of Conlin and Glass don’t seem remotely dated; they get huge laughs from the Film Forum crowds.
Ideally, you’ll one day have the opportunity to see this short in a theatre as part of an appreciative audience, but we’re confident you’ll enjoy it from the privacy of your home or office, too. Enjoy!
P.S. If you enjoyed this Conlin and Glass short, consider supporting The Vitaphone Project, a truly worthy organization devoted to the preservation of these wonderful shorts.