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Edward Arnold

An expert at playing rogues and authority figures, and superb at combining the two as powerful villains quietly pulling strings.

Filmography

1916      

The Strange Case of Mary Page 

 

1924      

He Who Gets Slapped 

 

1932      

Rasputin and the Empress 

 

1933      

Whistling in the Dark 

The White Sister 

The Barbarian 

Secret of the Blue Room

I’m No Angel 

Her Bodyguard 

Roman Scandals

Jennie Gerhardt 

 

1934      

Sadie McKee 

Thirty Day Princess

Wednesday’s Child 

 

1935      

Remember Last Night? 

Cardinal Richelieu 

The Glass Key 

Crime and Punishment

Diamond Jim 

 

1936      

Come and Get It 

Meet Nero Wolfe 

Sutter’s Gold

 

1937      

The Toast of New York

Easy Living 

 

1938      

The Crowd Roars 

You Can’t Take It with You 

 

1939      

Idiot’s Delight 

Man About Town 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

 

1940      

The Earl of Chicago 

Johnny Apollo 

Lillian Russell 

 

1941      

Meet John Doe

The Lady from Cheyenne 

Design for Scandal 

The Devil and Daniel Webster 

Unholy Partners

Johnny Eager

 

1942      

Eyes in the Night 

 

1943      

The Youngest Profession 

 

1944      

Kismet

Janie 

Mrs. Parkington 

 

1945      

Main Street After Dark 

Ziegfeld Follies 

Week-End at the Waldorf 

The Hidden Eye 

 

1946      

Three Wise Fools 

 

1947      

Dear Ruth 

The Hucksters 

 

1948      

Command Decision

 

1949      

Take Me Out to the Ballgame 

Dear Wife

 

1950      

The Yellow Cab Man 

Annie Get Your Gun 

 

1951      

Dear Brat

 

1952      

Belles on Their Toes 

 

1953      

City That Never Sleeps 

 

1954      

Living It Up 

Twelve Angry Men

 

1956      

The Ambassador’s Daughter 

The Houston Story 

Miami Exposé 

Awards

Edward Arnold was never nominated for an Academy Award.

Edward Arnold was born as Gunther Edward Arnold Schneider on February 18, 1890 in the Lower East Side of New York City. His schooling came at the East Side Settlement House.

Interested in acting since his youth (he made his first stage appearance at the age of 12 as Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice), Arnold made his professional stage debut in 1907. He found work as an extra for Essanay Studios and World Studios, before landing his first significant role in 1916’s The Misleading Lady. In 1919, he left film for a return to the stage, and did not appear again in movies until he made his talkie debut in Okay America! (1932). He recreated one of his stage roles in one of his early films, Whistling in the Dark (1933). His role in the 1935 film Diamond Jim boosted him to stardom. He reprised the role of Diamond Jim Brady in the 1940 film Lillian Russell. He also played a similar role in The Toast of New York (1937), another fictionalized version of real-life business chicanery, for which he was billed above Cary Grant in the posters with his name in much larger letters.

Although he was labeled “box office poison” in 1938 by an exhibitor publication (he shared this dubious distinction with Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Fred Astaire and Katharine Hepburn), he never lacked for work. Rather than continue in leading man roles, he gave up losing weight and went after character parts instead. Arnold was quoted as saying, “The bigger I got, the better character roles I received.” He was such a sought-after actor, he often worked on two pictures at the same time.

Arnold was an expert at playing rogues and authority figures, and superb at combining the two as powerful villains quietly pulling strings. He was best known for his roles in Come and Get It (1936), Sutter’s Gold (1936), The Toast of New York (1937), You Can’t Take It with You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941), and The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941). He was the first actor to portray Rex Stout’s famous detective Nero Wolfe, starring in Meet Nero Wolfe (1936), the film based on the first novel in the series.

He played blind detective Duncan Maclain in two movies based on the novels by Baynard Kendrick, Eyes in the Night (1942) and The Hidden Eye (1945).

From 1947 to 1953, Arnold starred in the ABC radio program Mr. President. He also played a lawyer, “Mr. Reynolds,” in The Charlotte Greenwood Show.

Arnold was host for Your Star Showcase, “a series of 52 half-hour television dramas … released by Television Programs of America.” The series was launched January 1, 1954, to run in 1950 cities. He also co-starred in “Ever Since the Day,” an episode of Ford Theatre on NBC.

Arnold was married three times: Harriet Marshall (1917–1927), with whom he had three children: Elizabeth, Jane and William (who had a short movie career as Edward Arnold, Jr.); Olive Emerson (1929–1948) and Cleo McLain (1951 until his death).

Arnold died at his home in Encino, California from a cerebral hemorrhage associated with atrial fibrillation, aged 66. He was interred in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

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