Bobby Clark (comedian)

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Robert Edwin Clark (June 16, 1888 – February 12, 1960), known as Bobby Clark, was a minstrel, vaudevillian, performer on stage, film, television and the circus. Known for his painted-on eyeglasses, he was part of a comedy team with Paul McCullough for 36 years.

Bobby Clark & Paul McCullough, in Kickin' the Crown Around

Early years[edit]

He was born in Springfield, Ohio. While still in grammar school he formed a friendship with classmate Paul McCullough. The two attended tumbling classes, and began performing an acrobatic act in minstrel shows and later in the Ringling Brothers' Circus.[1] The team worked as clowns from 1906 to 1912. In 1912 they made their debut in vaudeville with a pantomime act built around the simple act of placing a chair on top of a table.[1] In 1922 they starred in Irving Berlin's Broadway show Music Box Revue.[2]

Film career[edit]

Beginning in 1929, they made a series of about 35 short comedy films, for FOX and RKO, some of which are still extant. The comedy is surprisingly broad and ribald, given the era.

Clark & McCullough performed together until McCullough's suicide in March 1936.

In 1939 Clark appeared on Broadway in The Streets of Paris, sharing the stage with a new comedy act: Abbott & Costello.

Clark appeared on television during the 1950–51 television season, in the 8–9 pm Sunday night time slot of The Colgate Comedy Hour; however, Clark's four episodes were among those sponsored by Frigidaire and titled simply The Comedy Hour.

The Goldwyn Follies, his last and only film without Paul McCullough, in 1938, was the first Technicolor film produced by Samuel Goldwyn.

The Clark & McCullough shorts were made for an adult audience, with Clark writing much of the dialogue. Like Wheeler & Woolsey’s films, they were not released for television, being considered too vulgar. So, they did not enjoy the renaissance of popularity with a new generation, on television, like The Three Stooges, or Laurel & Hardy.

Bobby Clark with Leni Stengel, in Kickin' the Crown Around (1933)

Stage work[edit]

He appeared on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. His reputation grew as he tackled roles in plays such as Sheridan's The Rivals, as well as in musical comedies and revues.

Starting in 1942, producer Mike Todd cast him in five Broadway shows, all of them successful: the musical revue Star and Garter with Gypsy Rose Lee (1942–43); the Cole Porter musical Mexican Hayride (1944–45); Molière’s The Would-Be Gentleman (1946); and the revues As the Girls Go (1948) and Michael Todd's Peep Show (1950).

He came out of retirement to tour with Damn Yankees, 1956–58, in the role created on Broadway by Ray Walston.

As well as his better-known stage and film credits, Clark directed and appeared in such Restoration comedy as Congreve's Love For Love, and lectured on this period of theatre at the American Theater Wing.[3]

Bobby Clark died in New York City in 1960.

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Angele Gaignat from 1923 until his death.[4]

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Slide, Anthony (2012). The encyclopedia of vaudeville. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. 100. ISBN 1617032506.
  2. ^ Slide, Anthony (2012). The encyclopedia of vaudeville. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. 101. ISBN 1617032506.
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0163714/bio
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0163714/bio

External links[edit]