Erik Rhodes (actor, born 1906)

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Erik Rhodes
Born Ernest Sharpe
(1906-02-10)February 10, 1906
El Reno, Oklahoma Territory, U.S.
Died February 17, 1990(1990-02-17) (aged 84)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Years active 1934–1976
Spouse(s) Emala Rhodes (1972–1984) (her death)[1]

Erik Rhodes (February 10, 1906 – February 17, 1990) was an American film and Broadway singer and actor. He is best remembered today for appearing in two classic Hollywood musical films with popular dancing team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, The Gay Divorcee (1934) and Top Hat (1935).


Born Ernest Sharpe at El Reno, Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, USA, Rhodes started performing on the Broadway stage in A Most Immoral Lady (1928) using his birth name Ernest Sharpe. This was followed by two musicals The Little Show (1929) and Hey Nonny Nonny! (1932).

He first used the name Erik Rhodes when he appeared on Broadway in Gay Divorce (1932) and again in London in 1933. In this show, he gave a memorable comic portrayal of a spirited, feather-brained, thick-accented Italian character that impressed RKO executives enough to bring him to Hollywood to reprise the role in the film version, The Gay Divorcee (1934).[2]

His last film in the pre-war years was On Your Toes (1939). By the end of the war, he was very socially active in New York City often seen with Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg, his onetime companion, and the Nordstrom Sisters at popular watering holes such as the Stork Club and 21 Club.[citation needed]

Between 1947 and 1964, he was back on Broadway in The Great Campaign, Dance Me a Song, Collector's Item, Shinbone Alley, Jamaica, How to Make a Man, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In the Cole Porter musical Can-Can, he appeared as a lecherous art critic, and introduced the song "Come Along With Me".

Among his television appearances, he played the role of murder victim Herman Albright in the 1961 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Violent Vest."

He married his wife Emala in 1972 and they lived in New York City until the early 1980s.[citation needed] He died of pneumonia in Oklahoma City at age 84 and is interred with his wife in the El Reno Cemetery in El Reno, Oklahoma.





  1. ^
  2. ^ The different spellings of Gay Divorce (Broadway play, 1932) and The Gay Divorcee (film, 1934) are not a typographic error. When the film was made, film censors objected to the description of a divorce as "gay" (in the traditional meaning of the word — happy, cheerful). Hence, the title change.

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