November 4, 1927 |
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Bobby Breen (born November 4, 1927) is a former Canadian-born actor and singer who reached major popularity as a child star in the 1930s.
Life and Career
He made his professional debut at age four in a night club in Toronto and was an immediate sensation. He made his radio debut soon after. He played in vaudeville and his sister paid for his musical education. Breen went to Hollywood in 1935. His first major appearance was on Eddie Cantor's weekly radio show in 1936, and he soon became the leading child star at RKO Radio Pictures. He is best remembered today for his films, and for the fact that he was a boy soprano. His first film was Let's Sing Again (1936), followed by eight more, including Rainbow on the River (1936), Make a Wish (1937), Hawaii Calls (1938), Way Down South (1939), and his last film, Johnny Doughboy (1942). He was RKO's biggest child star at this time and, while he played the leading part, his co-stars included famous actors like Basil Rathbone, Alan Mowbray, Charlie Ruggles, May Robson and Dolores Costello.
He continued working as a singer in nightclubs and a musical performer in stock theatre, later serving as a guest pianist for the NBC Symphony Orchestra on radio, and hosting a local TV show in New York. He also recorded briefly for the Motown label, singing on two singles and an unreleased album in 1964. In 1953, Breen appeared on ABC's reality show, The Comeback Story, to explain how his career nose-dived as he entered his teen years and how he fought to recover.
As of 2002[update], Breen was living with his family in Tamarac, Florida and worked as the owner/operator of Bobby Breen Enterprises, a local talent agency, and even appeared sometimes as a singer at smaller concerts.
- Let's Sing Again (1936)
- Rainbow on the River (1936)
- Make a Wish (1937)
- Hawaii Calls (1938)
- Breaking the Ice (1938)
- Fisherman's Wharf (1939)
- Way Down South (1939)
- Escape to Paradise (1939)
- Johnny Doughboy (1942)
In popular culture
- Breen was one of the people represented on the cover of The Beatles' album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
- Lenny Bruce mentioned Breen in his comedy routines "Hitler and the MCA" and "The Palladium".
- beautiful-records.com, "Discography, Motown (1-1099)". Retrieved April 28, 2008
- Callahan, Mike and Edwards, David, "Motown Album Discography, Part 1 (1961-1981)". Retrieved April 28, 2008
- Once Upon a Time in Paradise: Canadians in the Golden Age of Hollywood, p. 53, at Google Books
- "Where's Brando?", Boston Globe, March 24, 2007