Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Stupidity Is Ray's Gain!

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

Subliminal Tactics

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.


The Good Cook said...

Oh man... I thought it was Jerry Lewis. Duh.

Hope you get the good drugs you are hoping for.

Michelle H. said...

Never would have guessed. Make sure you get extra med doses.

Pam said...

Interesting but never heard of him. I agree with Michelle on the extra. Hope it goes well.

Craig said...

Congrats to Ray; there are obviously some seriously committed connoisseuers of comedy around here. . .

And hey, if you're gonna get radical dental work, you might as well enjoy the drugs. . . Be sure to tell us what planets you get to visit. . . ;)

Uncle Skip, said...

Good luck with the dentist. When you're finished we'll have to compare the final products.

Daryl said...

He is happy to have won ... tho I do think letting him enter is like cheating since he very old and therefore knows who all the old actors are/were ... and thank you for pimping his videos .. they are working on another adventure with Cody & Slim

3GirlKnight said...


Congrats Ray!

Chris said...

Edgar Kennedy. The "Curly Joe" to JFK, RFK, and the rest.

Maybe not.

Quirkyloon said...

That hair! What a statement. Let's hope Lady Gaga sees it and imitates it for the next red carpet walk!

You anticipated us well. I, too, didn't know who this man was.

But he sounds like great fun. I'm a great fan of slow burners.

hee hee

Cricket said...

Never would have guessed. Movies/TV is an area of supreme ignorance for me. I'll have to check out those links.

Best wishes for the dental work. Ugh.

We have the technology, we can rebuild him...

Eva Gallant said...

Duh! I still don't have a clue!

Buck said...

Good luck with the dentist, Jim.

Uncle Skip, said...

Oh yead! And as Don Adams would say,"Missed it by that much." >| |<

Maggie May said...

Not sure that I've ever heard of him so I wouldn't have guessed in a million years.
I liked the fair way you did this comp!

If you have time (being an American Citizen) pop over to mine & see if you can come up with anything.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

slommler said...

Take the drugs and the gas too!! I believe in a no pain dental procedure!!

i beati said...

i miss you alrady and wish i was brave enough I need an entire mouth full spur me on- please- I chicken out every

Moannie said...

I've been rather lax lately and missed this quiz, not that I would have known the answer. Thought it might be an update on your fight against the beloved's that going I wonder?

Good luck at the dentist. Poor love.

Carolina said...

Shoot! He would have been my second guess.
Had I had a clue who he was.
Congratulations to the winner. Well deserved, since he's one of the few who knows about 'the other Kennedy'.

lime said...

congrats to ray and thanks for introducing me to edgar!

GreenJello said...

I didn't know about him! :) Thanks for the tip!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I'm a fan of ALL those comics...but didn't know about him!! Totally cool!! But not cool that you have to have more dental work!!! Hope it goes well, and that they give you plenty of pain killers!!! Hugs, Janine

Angela Christensen said...

If I'd been reading as religiously as I should have, I might have guessed - I'm one of those people who'd watch Turner Classic Movies and baseball all the time, left to my own devices.

Been thinking about you these last few days, hoping all is well. Thanks for your recent kind comments on my own blog, and I have my fingers crossed for those post-dental procedure drugs!

Sandra said...

What an interesting post. He didn't look familiar to me until you mentioned Laurel & Hardy. Then I thought, "Oh, yeah. I think I remember him playing their boss!"
I remember L&H shorts being played between the two feature movies (along with the news reel and a cartoon) in the movie theater when I was little.

Thanks for the memories. :)

rc said...

I choose "Benny Hill".

And while you're on those meds, do you think you might go on-line and order two sets of "The Complete and Unadulterated Megaset"?

Chris Stone said...

hope your dental work went well! and that pic... well he looks like the answer of something. lol.