The winner of the book giveaway is Ray (extremely significant other of Daryl.)
And the answer was Edgar Kennedy.
I realize that, even now, some of you are saying, "Who?"
Such a shame. The man was supremely funny, a talented and versatile actor who starred in his own series of two-reel short subjects that ran for 17 years. In addition to the more than 100 films in that series, he appeared in over 300 others, mostly as comic relief in dramatic presentations or as comic foil in the movies of Laurel & Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and other masters of comedy. Over 400 films - some sources would put the number at over 500, but many are lost and cannot be verified - and the man is nearly forgotten today. An absolute crying shame.
A decent brief history at Wikipedia.
Edgar Kennedy was not only a fine comedian in movies with sound. He actually began his career in silents, and was one of the original Keystone Kops, possibly the most popular ongoing series of movies during the silent era (and arguably of all-time.)
Edgar Kennedy is far left, standing, with mustache
Known as "The Master Of The Slow Burn" (which is when someone slowly becomes increasingly agitated and annoyed until his temper finally erupts like a volcano) Kennedy played a put-upon head of household in his "Average Man" series of comedies for RKO. Almost always frustrated in his efforts to remain calm by his argumentative mother-in-law (Dot Farley) and cowardly mooching brother-in-law (most often played by Jack Rice). He had a wife (usually played to scatterbrained perfection by Florence Lake), who was loving and supportive, but generally too dumb to realize how hideous her mother and brother were. The comedies worked because Kennedy's character was sympathetic, even if sometimes full of uncontrolled rage. On the all-too-rare occasions when he actually laid hands on his mother-in-law or brother-in-law, it was entirely justified. The effect for the audience was one of catharsis.
For a great taste of what these comedies were like - and a look at all four actors mentioned in the preceding paragraph - go HERE.
Aside from being a skilled comic actor, Kennedy also directed many films, among them some of the more popular in the Laurel & Hardy series. He was usually billed as "E. Livingston Kennedy" when directing, probably an effort to distance his directorial efforts from the bumbling characters he played on-screen at the Hal Roach Studios.
Another interesting tidbit? Kennedy was, before becoming a screen actor, the amateur Pacific Coast Heavyweight Boxing Champion, and he had a fair record as a professional before he figured out there were better ways to make a living aside from getting smashed in the noggin.
I could go on about the man, but what I'll do, instead, is direct you to one more website, this one run by the author of the book Ray won. The site is called - fittingly enough - Edgar Kennedy, Master Of The Slow Burn. It is lovingly maintained by Bill Cassara, the author of Kennedy's biography. Please do yourself a favor and go there. Read more about this very interesting, and unjustly forgotten, performer. If you want more, you could order the book (as I did, twice, leading to the giveaway of the second copy.) The prologue and introduction to the book are available at the site as teasers.
Speaking of the book, it will be on it's way to Ray (via Daryl) any moment now. I find it wonderfully fitting that Ray won the book. He's a swell comic actor in his own right. If you'd like an immediate laugh, go enjoy any of these short films in which Ray co-stars.
Rainy Day Old Maid
West Of Limbo
Thanks to everyone who made a guess.
I'll be gone until Monday, as I'm having the final dental work done to get my lower implanted denture, which necessitates the removal of my three remaining real bottom choppers. No doubt I'll have something to tell you about it, especially if I get the drugs for which I'm hoping.
Soon, with more better stuff.