Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday to the "perfect fool," Ed Wynn!

[post 32]

"A comedian is not a man who says funny things. A comedian is one who says things funny." —Ed Wynn

Ed Wynn (November 9, 1886 – June 19, 1966), known to his public as “the perfect fool,” was an American vaudevillian who grew up working with W.C. Fields. He gained nationwide fame as a comedian first on radio and then on television and, in his later years, as a serious actor in television and film dramas. He was apparently the first performer to host a tv variety show from Hollywood, and on his show introduced Buster Keaton to television audiences for the first time. Here's a clip of that intro:

[Yeah, it cuts off there, but apparently Keaton did this more than once on television, because you can see him doing it on something called The Ken Murray Show in 1952 right here. It's the molasses scene from the 1917 Arbuckle movie, The Butcher Boy.]

Wynn was not a physical comedian, but his wacky props (e.g., a piano-bicycle) and giddy personality lent themselves to broad comedy with a touch of the surreal, as in this well known scene from Mary Poppins.

Visual effects fans might be interested to know that Mary Poppins was one of the first large-scale uses of chroma key technology, except they used a yellow screen rather than green or blue!

And finally, Wynn's greatest claim to fame (heh-heh) would have to be his appearing alongside Myrna Loy, Tab Hunter, and yours truly in the 1959 television remake of "Meet Me in St. Louis."

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