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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 19 September 1889Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Date of Death 26 June 1973Fallbrook, California, USA  (heart attack)
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The ultimate milquetoast and ineffectual boss in comedy outings, meek character actor Ernest Truex was a small (5'3"), adenoidal, very well-dressed fellow, a popular avuncular type in later years who enjoyed a seven-decade-long career. He was born September 19, 1889, in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of a physician. Raised in Rich Hill, Missouri, he was actually trained in acting by one of his father's actor/patients (in exchange for mounting medical bills). An acting prodigy, Truex performed Shakespeare as a small child and was at one time dubbed "The Youngest Hamlet" by promoters (the five-year-old actually played the "ghost" of Hamlet). Upon his father's death when Ernest was nine, he and his mother toured the West in a show billed as "The Child Entertainers," in which the young talent recited everything from "Othello" to "Romeo and Juliet." Making appearances in stock and vaudeville, he took his first Broadway bow as a teenager with "Wildfire" starring Lillian Russell in 1908, and continued in the same vein with "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1910) and "Very Good Eddie" (1915), which also featured his first wife, actress Julia Mills. In 1913, he appeared on Broadway with Mary Pickford in the popular play "A Good Little Devil."

That same year Truex made his film debut with Pickford in Caprice (1913), then appeared with her in the film version of A Good Little Devil (1914). With his film career now off and running, he found a fairly comfortable niche for himself as mild-mannered, mischievous heroes in comedy capers. He played the title role in Artie, the Millionaire Kid (1916), as well as the protagonist in Come on In (1918) and Good-Bye, Bill (1918), not to mention a number of humorous shorts. His last silent film, Six Cylinder Love (1923) as Gilbert Sterling, came from an earlier Broadway success.

Truex continued to rack up a strong body of stage work in the late 1920s and early 1930s. His first wife had died around this time and he married stage actress Mary Jane Barrett, appearing with her in New York in such plays as "The Third Little Show" (1931), "The Hook-Up (1935), and "Fredericka" (1937). They had one child. In 1934 Truex directed, co-produced, and starred in the play "Sing and Whistle" which co-starred Sylvia Field. She would later become his third wife upon his divorce from Ms. Barrett, and came into her own in later years as the kindly Mrs. Wilson on the Dennis the Menace (1959) sitcom. They had three children, one of whom, Barry Truex, would go on to have an acting career of his own.

A much sought-after character lead and farceur after the arrival of sound, Truex appeared in a host of standout roles in such comedies as Get That Venus (1933), Whistling in the Dark (1933) (another stage success), Everybody Dance (1936), a British musical comedy that co-starred Cicely Courtneidge, and Mama Runs Wild (1937). Forever the henpecked husband or exasperated executive, he was an avid scene stealer in The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938), Bachelor Mother (1939), the classic His Girl Friday (1940), Lillian Russell (1940) and Christmas in July (1940). Broadway triumphs kept rolling in as well with "Best Sellers," "George Washington Slept Here" and "Androcles and the Lion."

The quality of his films fell off in the postwar years and he started scouting out TV projects. He appeared as a regular on the Mister Peepers (1952) series, as a grandfather in Jamie (1953), a boss in The Ann Sothern Show (1958), and as "Pop" in the December Bride (1954) spin-off Pete and Gladys (1960). Truex died on June 27, 1973, in Fallbrook, California, of a heart attack at age 83.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Sylvia Field (1937 - 26 June 1973) (his death) (3 children)
Mary Jane Barrett (? - ?) (divorced) (1 child)
Julia Mills (? - ?) (her death)

Trivia (4)

Grew up in Rich Hill, Missouri. There he entered acting school at age five. When he was nine, he went on a tour through Missouri and Kansas as "The Child Wonder in Scenes from Shakespeare."
Cremated - ashes scattered somewhere in California
Father of actor Barry Truex; step-father of actress Sally Moffet.
His stepdaughter Sally Moffet was married to actor Mike Kellin.

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