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Joe E. Brown Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (20) | Personal Quotes (1) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 28 July 1892Holgate, Ohio, USA
Date of Death 6 July 1973Brentwood, California, USA  (stroke)
Birth NameJoseph Evans Brown
Height 5' 7½" (1.71 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Joe E. Brown happily claimed that he was the only youngster in show business who ran way from home to join the circus with the blessings of his parents. In 1902, the ten-year-old Brown joined a circus tumbling act called the Five Marvellous Ashtons, which toured various circuses and vaudeville theaters. Joe later began adding comedy bits into his vaudeville act and added more as it became popular. In 1920 he debuted on Broadway in an all-star review called "Jim Jam Jems". As he developed skits and comedy routines throughout the 1920s, he built up his confidence and his popularity soared. The same could not be said for his debut in movies. Hired for a non comedy role in The Circus Kid (1928), he played a lion tamer whose fate is death. He didn't register with the public until he signed with Warner Brothers in 1929 to do comedy roles in the film adaptations of Broadway shows such as Sally (1929) and Top Speed (1930). Joe would be well known for his loud yell, his infectious grin and his cavernous mouth. Since many of his films revolved around sports, his natural athletic ability, combined with the physical comedy, made them hits. In Local Boy Makes Good (1931), Joe played a botanist who becomes a track star. As he had briefly played semi-pro baseball, he was a natural for films like Fireman, Save My Child (1932), in which he played a pitcher who was also a fireman. Two of his biggest hits involved the game of baseball, Elmer, the Great (1933) and Alibi Ike (1935). In his contract with Warners, he had it written that he would have his own baseball team at the studio to play when he was able. Joe was one of the top ten moneymaking stars for 1933 and 1936. In 1937, he left Warners to make films for David L. Loew, and it was a disaster. Most of the films were cheaply made with poor production values, and only a few were successful. Two of the better ones were Riding on Air (1937) and The Gladiator (1938). Brown always called signing with Loew his biggest professional mistake and with Loew his popularity fell. By the end of the 1930's he was working in "B" material which would have been unimaginable less than five years earlier. With the advent of World War II, Joe worked tirelessly to entertain the troops while his film career floundered. Their enthusiastic response enabled Joe to overcome the death of his son, Captain Donald Brown, on a training flight. In 1947 Joe was back in the biz and back on stage in a road company tour of the comedy "Harvey". His first movie role in three years was as a small-town minister in the drama The Tender Years (1948). Even though he gave a good performance, it would be another three years before he was again on the big screen, in the big-budget 1951 remake of Show Boat (1951), in which he played Captain Hawks. When his film career became almost nonexistent, Joe worked on radio and in television. He starred as the clown in the drama The Buick Circus Hour (1952) from 1952 to 1953 and made guest appearances on a number of other shows in the 1950s and early 1960s. His peers regarded him as one of the few truly nice people in Hollywood (a short list of his contemporaries would include Jean Hersholt and Jack Benny). After a few small movie roles in the 1950s, he was discovered by a new generation as the millionaire Osgood Fielding III in Billy Wilder's classic Some Like It Hot (1959), uttering the last immortal line of the film, "Well, nobody's perfect."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jack Backstreet

Spouse (1)

Kathryn Francis McGraw (24 December 1915 - 6 July 1973) (his death) (4 children)

Trivia (20)

Interred at Forest Lawn (Glendale), Glendale, California, USA. Specific interment location: Sunrise Slope, just south of the Great Mausoleum.
Comedian.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy", by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 68-69. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Bowling Green State University dedicated one of its three theaters to him (the one in which he appeared in "Harvey" in the 1950s) as The Joe E. Brown Theatre.
In 1948, won a special Tony Award for the touring production of "Harvey," cited for "spreading theater to the country while the original performs in New York".
OH-18 in Holgate, Ohio, his birthplace, is renamed Joe E. Brown Ave.
His comical face and satchel-sized mouth seemed to overshadow the fact that Brown was a remarkably gifted athlete and had an almost deceptively ripped physique, which he maintained throughout his entire life.
Playing the flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) Brown ad-libbed, "I won't play any more" when thrown into a lake. It always got a good laugh, but it is said to be the only non-Shakespeare bit of dialogue in the film.
He had four children: two sons, Don Evan (b. December 25, 1916) and Joe L. Brown, and two daughters, Mary Katherine Ann (b. 1930) and Kathryn Francis (b. 1934). Both daughters were adopted.
His sons were both UCLA athletes.
He and his wife renewed their wedding vows on December 24, 1940. His oldest son Don gave away the bride, second son Joe was best man, and the daughters were flower girls. Daughter-in-law Virginia Newport Brown was the maid of honor.
In 1944, his daughter Mary Katherine was injured in a car accident and near death. There were so many other car accidents that night that there were not enough doctors at the hospital to care for her. Brown ran around the hospital trying to find someone to help him until finally a doctor, tired and ready to go home, recognized Brown and agreed to help his doctor. He treated her for seven hours, saving her life.
In December 1939, his daughter Kathryn suffered a skull fracture when she was thrown from a horse. Three days later, Brown was in a car accident in where his car rolled over several times and fell down a 35 foot embankment. He ended up breaking his back and collapsing a lung. His heart stopped during surgery and he was clinically dead for 40 seconds.
When his oldest son was born, Brown got sick and passed out in the delivery room.
His son Don, a member of the air corps, died in World War II in a plane accident.
The cartoon character Peter Potamus was modeled after Brown.
Joe E. Brown's son Joe L. Brown became a baseball executive and is best known for being the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the period when they won the World Series in 1960.
An ardent opponent of the Nazi regime, in 1939 Brown testified before the House Immigration Committee in support of a bill that would allow 20,000 German-Jewish refugee children into the United States. He would later adopt two German-Jewish refugee boys himself.
Was one of only two civilians awarded the Bronze Star during World War II. At his own expense he would travel frequently to Europe to entertain the troops, performing in all weather conditions and frequently in hospitals. He was even known to have done his entire routine for dying soldiers. On each trip back to the United States he would bring sacks of mail from the servicemen to deliver to their families.
Brown was a member of The Lambs, an actors club established in NYC in 1874. He joined in 1924 and was made a Life Member later.

Personal Quotes (1)

[In 1952] I'm not the comedian I once was. A comedian has to be slightly insulting, comedy has to be 70 per cent insults, and I'm always afraid today when I say something funny it may hurt someone. If another comic makes a crack about my mouth, I just can't insult him back.

Salary (1)

Hold Everything (1930) $15,000

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