Happy 112th Birthday, Sterling Holloway!

Character actor Sterling Holloway was born 112 years ago today in Cedartown, Georgia. Here are 10 SH Did-You-Knows:

  • Holloway was the first of two sons born to grocer (and Cedartown mayor for one year when Sterling Jr. was seven years old) Sterling P. Holloway, Sr. and his wife, Rebecca.
  • Holloway graduated from Georgia Military Academy in 1920 and though only 15, he immediately left the South for New York City to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (Spencer Tracy was a classmate and friend).
  • In his late teens, Holloway joined a touring company of The Shepherd of the Hills, performing in a series of one-nighters out west. Afterwards, he returned to NYC, where he performed small roles in Theatre Guild productions. He also was cast in the Rodgers and Hart review The Garrick Gaieties, in which he introduced the popular standard Manhattan.
  • In 1926, Holloway moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in pictures, and he would go on to appear in 100 of them. His bushy red hair and prominent features made him a natural for comedies, and he got his start in silent pictures, appearing in three shorts and one feature (Casey at the Bat [1927]).
  • In 1932, after four years without a film role (a director had reportedly told him he was “too repulsive” for silent pictures), Holloway began to work in talkies, where his high-pitched, chalky voice served him well, and he kept very busy indeed. From 1932-35, he averaged 10 pictures (some of them short subjects) a year.
  • Over the course of his 50-year, Holloway appeared in (or did voice work for) more than 100 features and shorts, and made nearly as many television appearances.
  • In addition to his picture and television work, Holloway worked frequently on radio, a medium to which his unique and memorable voice was well-suited. Among the shows to which Holloway lent his talents were The Railroad Hour, The United States Steel Hour, Suspense, Lux Radio Theater and Fibber McGee and Molly.
  • Holloway was one of the first actors to make the jump to television, appearing in 1949 on the anthology series Your Show Time, which featured half-hour adaptaions of literary short stories from the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson. It was the first American dramatic series to be shot on film and the first series to win an Emmy award.
  • Holloway frequently did voice work for animated features, including Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1942), Alice in Wonderland (1951), The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970) and perhaps most famously, he provided the voice of Winnie the Pooh in Disney’s popular series of Pooh featurettes.
  • College Street, where the Holloway family resided in Cedartown, is now called Sterling Holloway Place and there’s a plaque at the site of his boyhood home.

Happy birthday, Sterling Holloway, wherever you may be!

Sterling Holloway

Thrills and chills, at no cost to you

Halloween is upon us, a time when we’re reminded that sometimes less is more, that suggestion can sometimes be more effective than graphic representation.

Which is why we appreciate that the good folks over at OTRcat.com are again offering free streams and downloads of a handful of old-time radio programs, each with a Halloween theme. No graphic violence or gore for us, please. We prefer to shudder in our seat due to a sense of creeping dread rather than leap out of it in reaction to some shocking bit of cinematic violence.

Here are horror and mystery programs—Inner Sanctum, Quiet Please, and Suspense, among others—and even an episode of the popular comedy show The Great Gildersleeve.

And if you find listening to these few frightening offerings whets your appetite for more, now’s the time to take the leap, as the folks at OTRcat are offering their collections of scary programs at 20% off. We’re not certain just how long the savings will last, so hurry over.

We’ll share with you one of our favorites among the programs available at the site, an episode of The Whistler, a series that ran from 1942 until 1955 and was adapted into a movie series starring Richard Dix.

The Whistler: “Death Comes at Midnight” (October 18, 1942)

As we’ve said before, we have nothing whatsoever to do with OTRcat.com; we certainly don’t make a dime from promoting the site and its wares. We just like their product and the fact that they’re willing to occasionally give away some of what they’re selling. Anyone who introduces more people to old-time radio is okay in our book.