The Casino Murder Case (1935).
|Born||23 December 1887|
|Died||2 March 1959 (aged 71)|
(m. 1917; died 1919)
Eric Blore Sr. (23 December 1887 – 2 March 1959) was an English actor and writer. His early stage career, mostly in the West End of London, centred on revue and musical comedy, but also included straight plays. He wrote sketches for and appeared in variety. In the 1930s Blore acted mostly in Broadway productions. He made his last London appearance in 1933 in the Fred Astaire hit Gay Divorce. Between 1930 and 1955 he made more than 60 Hollywood films, becoming particularly well known for playing butlers and other superior domestic servants. He retired in 1956 for health reasons, and died in Hollywood in 1959 at the age of 71.
Life and career
Blore was born in Finchley, a north-London suburb on 23 December 1887, son of Henry Blore and his wife Mary, née Newton. He was educated at Mills School, Finchley, and after leaving school he worked for an insurance company. He was drawn to a theatrical career, and in 1908 he made his first appearance on the stage at the Spa Theatre, Bridlington in the musical comedy The Girl from Kays. In the same year he went to Australia, where he appeared with a concert party, "The Merrymakers". In the English provinces he appeared in the musical comedy The Arcadians (1910), the pierrot show The March Hares (1911) and Barry Jackson and Basil Dean's Fifinella (1912).
In April 1913 Blore made his first appearance in London, at the Empire, Leicester Square in C. H. Bovill's revue All the Winners, in which he was praised by The Observer. He also appeared at the Empire in Bovill's and P. G. Wodehouse's revue Nuts and Wine (1914). During the First World War Blore enlisted and served in the South Wales Borderers and later joined the Royal Flying Corps, before being assigned to run the 38th Divisional Concert Party in France ("The Welsh Wails") 1917–1919.
Blore wrote several sketches for revue and variety, including "Violet and Pink" (1913); "A Burlington Arcadian" (1914); "The Admirable Fleming" (1917); "Yes, Papa" (1921); "French Beans" (1921) and his most enduring sketch, "The Disorderly Room", written while he was in the army, and first given in London by Stanley Holloway, Tom Walls, Leslie Henson, Jack Buchanan and the author. It was taken up by Tommy Handley who starred in it in music halls around the country and on BBC radio in the 1920s and 30s.
West End and Broadway
In the early 1920s Blore toured in variety and appeared in the West End in Angel Face (1922) a "musical farce" with music by Victor Herbert, heading a cast that included Sylvia Cecil and the young Miles Malleson, and The Cabaret Girl, joining the cast in mid-run.
In August 1923 Blore appeared for the first time on Broadway, playing the Hon. Bertie Bird in Little Miss Bluebeard, and on his return to London he appeared in the same part at Wyndham's Theatre. After the death of his first wife, Violet (née Winter), Blore married Clara Macklin in 1926. In the same year he returned to New York, playing Teddie Deakin in The Ghost Train. The play, which ran in London for 655 performances did less well on Broadway, and closed after 61 performances. Blore remained in the US for the next seven years; his Broadway roles were Reggie Ervine in Mixed Doubles, Sir Calverton Shipley in Just Fancy, Sir Basil Carraway in Here's How, the King of Arcadia in Angela, Captain Robert Holt in Meet the Prince, Lieutenant Cooper in Roar China, Bertie Capp in Give Me Yesterday and Roddy Trotwood in Here Goes the Bride. In 1932 he toured as Cosmo Perry in The Devil Passes, before returning to Broadway to play the waiter in Cole Porter's Gay Divorce, which starred Fred Astaire and Claire Luce.
Gay Divorce ran for 248 performances, closing in July 1933, to allow Astaire and Luce to go to London to play in the piece at the Palace Theatre. Blore and Erik Rhodes from the Broadway cast also appeared in the London production, which ran for five months. This was Blore's last London stage show. As The Times put it, he joined "the select company of English actors who were persuaded to journey to California" to appear in Hollywood films, along with the likes of C. Aubrey Smith and Ronald Colman.
Blore made more than 60 films between 1930 and 1955. He was particularly known for playing superior butlers, valets and gentlemen's gentlemen. The Times commented that he and another English actor, Arthur Treacher, "made a virtual corner in butler parts … no study of an upper class English or American household was complete without one or other of them". Treacher was tall and thin with a haughty and austere manner; Blore was "shorter and slightly tubby … a trifle more eccentric in manner but equally capable of registering eloquent but unspoken disapproval". His less lofty air enabled him to deliver the line, "If I were not a gentleman's gentleman I could be such a cad's cad."
In 1943 Blore returned to Broadway, replacing Treacher during the run of Ziegfeld Follies, and made his final stage appearance at Los Angeles in September 1945, playing Charles Mannering in the unsuccessful Tchaikovsky-based musical Song Without Words.
Blore retired after suffering a stroke in 1956. Taken ill in February 1959 he was moved from his Hollywood home to the Motion Picture Country Hospital, where he died of a heart attack on 1 March, aged 71. He was survived by his widow, Clara, a son, Eric Jr., and one grandchild.
|Laughter (1930)||angel in party scene|
|Tarnished Lady (1931)||jewellery counter clerk|
|Flying Down to Rio (1933)||Butterbass, Hammerstein's assistant|
|The Gay Divorcee (1934)||waiter|
|Behold My Wife! (1934)||Benson|
|Limehouse Blues (1934)||slummer|
|Folies Bergère de Paris (1935)||François|
|Old Man Rhythm (1935)||Phillips|
|Top Hat (1935)||Bates, Hardwick's valet|
|Diamond Jim (1935)||Sampson Fox|
|I Dream Too Much (1935)||Roger Briggs|
|Seven Keys to Baldpate (1935)||Prof. Harrison Boulton|
|The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)||Stokes|
|Sons o' Guns (1936)||Hobson|
|Piccadilly Jim (1936)||Bayliss|
|Swing Time (1936)||Gordon|
|Smartest Girl in Town (1936)||Lucius Philbean, Dick's valet|
|Quality Street (1937)||recruiting sergeant|
|The Soldier and the Lady (1937)||Blount|
|Shall We Dance (1937)||Cecil Flintridge|
|It's Love I'm After (1937)||Digges|
|Breakfast for Two (1937)||Butch, blair's valet|
|Hitting a New High (1937)||Cedric Cosmo, aka Captain Braceridge Hemingway|
|Joy of Living (1938)||Potter, the butler|
|Swiss Miss (1938)||Edward Morton|
|A Gentleman's Gentleman (1939)||Heppelwhite|
|Island of Lost Men (1939)||Herbert|
|The Lone Wolf Strikes (1940)||Jamison|
|'Til We Meet Again (1940)||Sir Harold Pinchard|
|The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady (1940)||Jamison|
|The Boys from Syracuse (1940)||Pinch|
|Earl of Puddlestone (1940)||Horatio Bottomley|
|The Lady Eve (1941)||Sir Alfred Mcglennan Keith|
|The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance (1941)||Jamison|
|Road to Zanzibar (1941)||Charles Kimble|
|Confirm or Deny (1941)||Mr. Hobbs|
|Sullivan's Travels (1941)||Sullivan's valet|
|The Shanghai Gesture (1941)||Caesar Hawkins, the bookkeeper|
|The Moon and Sixpence (1942)||Captain Nichols|
|Happy Go Lucky (1943)||Betsman|
|One Dangerous Night (1943)||jamison|
|Forever and a Day (1943)||Sir Anthony's butler|
|Heavenly Music (1943 short)||Mr. Frisbie|
|The Sky's the Limit (1943)||Jackson, the butler|
|Passport to Suez (1943, part of the Lone Wolf series)||Llewellyn Jameson|
|Holy Matrimony (1943)||Henry Leek|
|San Diego, I Love You (1944)||Nelson, butler|
|Easy to Look At (1945)||Billings|
|Men in Her Diary (1945)||florist|
|I Was a Criminal (1945)||Obermüller, the mayor|
|The Notorious Lone Wolf (1946)||Jameson|
|Winter Wonderland (1946)||Luddington|
|Abie's Irish Rose (1946)||Stubbins|
|The Lone Wolf in Mexico (1947)||Jamison|
|The Lone Wolf in London (1947)||Jamison|
|Romance on the High Seas (1948)||ship's doctor|
|The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949, Short)||J. Thaddeus Toad (voice)|
|Love Happy (1949)||Mackinaw|
|Fancy Pants (1950)||Sir Wimbley|
|Babes in Bagdad||cast member|
|Bowery to Bagdad (1955)||genie of the lamp|
Notes and references
- Parker, p. 77
- "Mr Eric Blore", The Times, 3 March 1959, p. 12
- "All the Winners, The Observer, 13 April 1913, p. 9
- "At the Play", The Observer, 28 December 1913, p. 4
- Holloway and Richards, pp. 23, 60 and 190
- "Eric Blore", British Film Institute. Retrieved 13 June 2020
- "Plays of the Year", The Play Pictorial, October 1922, p. 131
- Herbert, p. 231
- Gaye, p. 1532; and "The Ghost Train", IMDB. Retrieved 13 June 2020
- "Gay Divorce", IMDB. Retrieved 13 June 2020
- "Palace Theatre, The Times, 3 November 1933, p. 12
- "Theatres", The Times, 7 April 1934, p. 8
- "Ziegfeld Follies of 1943", IBDB. Retrieved 13 June 2020
- "Eric Blore, Perfect Film Butler Dies", The Knoxville News-Sentinel, 2 March 1959, p. 2
- Herbert, Ian (ed) (1978). Whos Was Who in the Theatre. London and Detroit: Pitman Publishing and Gale Research. OCLC 297602028.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Holloway, Stanley; Richards, Dick (1967). Wiv a Little Bit o' Luck: The Life Story of Stanley Holloway. London: Frewin. OCLC 3647363.
- Parker, John (ed) (1922). Who's Who in the Theatre (fourth ed.). London: Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons. OCLC 473894893.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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