Image of Ed Wynn

Ed Wynn

Isaiah Edwin Leopold (November 9, 1886 – June 19, 1966), better known as Ed Wynn, was an American actor and comedian noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, and his later career as a dramatic actor. Ed Wynn first appeared on television on July 7, 1936 in a brief, ad-libbed spot with Graham McNamee during an NBC experimental television broadcast. In the 1949–50 season, Ed Wynn hosted one of the first network, comedy-variety television shows, on CBS, and won both a Peabody Award and an Emmy Award in 1949. Buster Keaton, Lucille Ball, and The Three Stooges all made guest appearances with Wynn. This was the first CBS variety television show to originate from Los Angeles, which was seen live on the west coast, but filmed via kinescope for distribution in the Midwest and East, as the national coaxial cable had yet to be completed. Wynn was also a rotating host of NBC's Four Star Revue from 1950 through 1952. After the end of Wynn's third television series, The Ed Wynn Show (a short-lived situation comedy on NBC's 1958–59 schedule), his son, actor Keenan Wynn, encouraged him to make a career change rather than retire. The comedian reluctantly began a career as a dramatic actor in television and movies. Father and son appeared in three productions, the first of which was the 1956 Playhouse 90 broadcast of Rod Serling's play Requiem for a Heavyweight. Ed was terrified of straight acting and kept goofing his lines in rehearsal. When the producers wanted to fire him, star Jack Palance said he would quit if they fired Ed. (However, unbeknownst to Wynn, supporting player Ned Glass was his secret understudy in case something did happen before air time.) On live broadcast night, Wynn surprised everyone with his pitch-perfect performance, and his quick ad libs to cover his mistakes. A dramatization of what happened during the production was later staged as an April 1960 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse episode, "The Man in the Funny Suit", starring both senior and junior Wynns, with key figures involved in the original production also portraying themselves. Ed and his son also worked together in the Jose Ferrer film The Great Man, with Ed again proving his unexpected skills in drama. Requiem established Wynn as a serious dramatic actor who could easily hold his own with the best. His role in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) won him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Also in 1959, Wynn appeared on Serling's TV series The Twilight Zone in "One for the Angels". Serling, a longtime admirer, had written that episode especially for him, and Wynn later in 1963 starred in the episode "Ninety Years Without Slumbering". For the rest of his life, Wynn skillfully moved between comic and dramatic roles. He appeared in feature films and anthology television, endearing himself to new generations of fans.


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Born:
Nov 9, 1886 In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
39
First Appeared:
In the movie Follow the Leader 1930-12-06
Latest Project:
Movie Shemp Cocktail: A Toast to the Original Stooge 2008-01-01
Known For
Poster of Shemp Cocktail: A Toast to the Original Stooge
Poster of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color
Filmography
Movie Shemp Cocktail: A Toast to the Original Stooge Ed Wynn 2008-01-01
Movie That's Entertainment, Part II (archive footage) 1976-05-17
Movie The Gnome-Mobile Rufus 1967-07-17
Movie The Daydreamer The Emperor 1966-06-01
Movie Those Calloways Ed Parker 1965-01-28
Movie That Darn Cat! Mr. Hofstedder 1965-12-02
Movie The Greatest Story Ever Told Old Aram 1965-02-15
Series The Hollywood Palace Unknown 1964-01-04
Movie Mary Poppins Uncle Albert 1964-08-27
Movie Son of Flubber A.J. Allen 1963-01-16
Series Burke's Law Unknown 1963-09-20
Movie The New March of Dimes Presents: The Scene Stealers Himself 1962-01-06
Movie The Absent-Minded Professor Fire Chief 1961-03-16
Movie Babes in Toyland Toymaker 1960-09-13
Movie Cinderfella Fairy Godfather 1960-12-18
Series Rawhide Unknown 1959-01-09
Movie The Diary of Anne Frank Fritz Pfeffer 1959-03-18
Series The Twilight Zone Sam Forstmann 1959-10-02
Movie Meet Me in St. Louis Grandpa 1959-04-26
Movie Marjorie Morningstar Uncle Samson 1958-04-24
Series Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Unknown 1958-10-06
Movie The Great Man Paul Beaseley 1956-12-01
Series The Steve Allen Show Unknown 1956-06-24
Series The Dinah Shore Chevy Show Unknown 1956-10-05
Movie Requiem for a Heavyweight Army 1956-10-11
Series December Bride Unknown 1954-10-04
Series Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Unknown 1954-10-27
Series General Electric Theater Unknown 1953-02-01
Series This Is Your Life Unknown 1952-10-01
Movie Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter (voice) 1951-07-03
Series Hallmark Hall of Fame Unknown 1951-12-24
Series The Colgate Comedy Hour Unknown 1950-09-10
Series The Emmy Awards Unknown 1949-01-25
Series The Ed Sullivan Show Unknown 1948-06-20
Movie Stage Door Canteen Ed Wynn 1943-06-24
Movie The Chief Henry Summers 1933-11-03
Movie Turn Back the Clock Cigar Store Customer (uncredited) 1933-08-25
Movie Hollywood on Parade 1932-06-05
Movie Follow the Leader Crickets 1930-12-06