Tuesday, September 21, 2010
OK, yesterday I offered a contest for a free book. Nobody won it. And the reason for that has nothing to do with your intelligence.
The book is a biography of a comedian. In order to win the book, I asked for folks to name a comedian - any comedian - in the comments section here. And you folks named a whole slew of really fine comedians.
Here are the guesses that were made:
Joe E. Brown
Dick Van Dyke
Jerry Van Dyke
None of them was the one. Too bad, because there are a number of folks on that list of whom I'd love to read a biography, with Sid James, Joe. E. Brown, Charlie Callas, Henny Youngman, and James Finlayson heading the list.
(Did I mention I love supporting players, character actors, and otherwise obscure [at least to American audiences] comics?]
Anyway, I'm afraid I severely overestimated the possibility that any of you would name this fellow. He's been out of the public eye for a long time, and the films he starred in - which were many, albeit mostly two-reelers - haven't been played on TV, or even in revival movie houses, for decades. If I named the folks he supported - that is, those people whose own starring vehicles he appeared in - you'd be able to narrow it down by reviewing cast listings for their films, I suppose. But, I wanted to give first crack at the book to somebody who really, truly loved this guy and might have named him without a whole bunch of clues. Since that didn't happen yesterday, I'm going to give some rather obvious clues (at least, they should make his identity obvious to those who know of him, even though I'm sure some of you will still say, "Who?", when I finally reveal his name. Shame, that, as he was pretty much a household name back in his day.)
Please try to guess who he is from the following hints. Since you may read my blog at a wildly varying time from others, and I'll be making it relatively obvious - at least to those of you who know of him - I wouldn't want to give a vast edge to anyone in my own time zone. Therefore, I'll take all correct answers given by 8am, Wednesday, September 21st, U.S. Eastern Time, throw them into a hat, and choose a winner at random. So, if somebody else has already made the guess you would have made, don't let that stop you from making the same guess.
(And I'll ask one favor. If you DON'T like this fellow, let me know. I can't imagine why you wouldn't, but I want the book to go to someone who truly enjoyed his work.)
Here we go...
1 - Some of his appearances on film were in silent movies, but his own starring roles were all made with sound. In the silents, however, he appeared in some of the most-watched movies ever made during that era.
2 - He appeared in films with Laurel & Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, Doris Day, Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, and the "Our Gang" (or "Little Rascals") kids.
3 - He had one shtick, or bit of business, he almost always performed within his later filmed appearances. He was, as a matter of fact, sometimes referred to as "The Master Of ... " that shtick.
That might be enough to give it away to someone who knows the guy and appreciates him. If none of you get it today, I guess I'll have to assume I'm the only guy in the world who still loves him. That would make me very sad.
Oh, well. Post your guess (ONE per customer, please) in the comments, and best of luck. I'll give the results tomorrow.
Soon, with that.