Thursday, November 6, 2008
Favorite Classic Movie Stars -EDWARD ARNOLD
Edward Arnold was born Gunther Edward Arnold Schneider on February 18, 1890 on the Lower East Side of New York City. He was born as a son to German immigrants Carl Schneider and Elizabeth Ohse. Unfortunately, he was orphaned at age eleven.
Arnold was interested in acting since his youth though, and after being orphaned he supported himself with a series of manual labor jobs. He finally made his first stage appearance at age twelve playing Lorenz in an amateur production of "The Merchant of Venice". He became a professional actor at the age of fifteen, playing opposite such a great actress as Ethel Barrymore in 1907 in "Dream of a Summer Night". He found work as an extra for Chicago's Essaney Studios and New Jersey's World Studios, before landing his first significant role in 1916's "The Misleading Lady". In 1919, he left film for a return to stage and did not appear again in movies until 1932 when he made his talking debut in "Okay, America!" He recreated one of his stage roles in one of his early films "Whistling in the Dark" in 1933. His role in the 1935 film "Diamond Jim" boosted him to stardom. He reprised his role of Diamond Jim Brady in the 1940 film "Lillian Russell".
Arnold appeared in more than one hundred and fifty movies. Although he was labeled as "Box Office Poison" in 1938 by an exhibitor publication (he shared this dubious distinction with Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West. Fred Astaire and Kathrine Hepburn). he never looked for work, rather than continue in leading man roles, he gave up losing weight and went after character actor parts instead. He was quoted as saying "The bigger I got, the better character actor roles I received" He was such a sought after actor he often worked on two pictures at the same time.
With a booming baritone and piercing blue eyes, Arnold was an expert at playing rogues and authority figures. He was best known for his roles in "Come and Get It" in 1936, "Sutters Gold" also in 1936, "The Toast of New York" in 1937, "You Can't take it With You" in 1938, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" in 1939 and "The Devil and Daniel Webster" in 1941. Arnold was one of director Frank Capra's preferred actors and worked in several movies with him. He also was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1940-1942.
Starting in 1940, he became involved in Republican politics and was mentioned as a possible G.O.P. candidate for the U.S. Senate. He lost a closely contested election for Alderman and said at the time that perhaps actors were not suited to run for political office (Time has since proven him wrong). A staunch conservative, he later took a strong stand against alleged Communists in Hollywood, while trying to protect actors from the House Un-American Activities Committee. He was also co-founder of the "I am an American" foundation.
Arnold was married three times, as follows:
Harriet Marshall (1917-1927) with which he had three children, Elizabeth, Jane and William, who had a short movie career as Edward Arnold Jr.
Olive Emerson (1929-1948)
Cleo Mclain (1951- until his death)
Edward Arnold died at the age of 66 on April 26th, 1956 of a cerebral hemorrhage and is interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery.