Screenshot of trailer for
Topper Takes a Trip, 1939
January 23, 1889|
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||July 20, 1958
Laguna Beach, California, U.S.
Franklin Pangborn (January 23, 1889 – July 20, 1958) was an American comedic character actor. Pangborn was famous for small, but memorable roles, with a comic flair. He appeared in many Preston Sturges movies as well as the W. C. Fields films International House, The Bank Dick, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. For his contributions to motion pictures, Pangborn received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street on February 8, 1960.
Pangborn was born in Newark, New Jersey.
In the early 1930s, Pangborn worked in short subjects for Mack Sennett, Hal Roach, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Pathé Exchange, almost always in support of the leading players. (He played a befuddled photographer opposite "Spanky" McFarland in the Our Gang short subject Wild Poses, for example.) He also appeared in scores of feature films in small roles, cameos, and in recurring gags of various types.
One of those character actors who always played essentially the same character no matter the situation, Pangborn portrayed a prissy type of person, polite, elegant, and highly energetic, often officious, fastidious, somewhat nervous, prone to becoming flustered but essentially upbeat, and with an immediately recognizable high-speed patter-type speech pattern. He typically played an officious desk clerk in a hotel, a self-important musician, a fastidious headwaiter, an enthusiastic birdwatcher, and the like, and was usually put in a situation of frustration or was comedically flustered by someone else's topsy-turvy antics.
Pangborn's screen character, which might be described at times as prissy or flighty, was often considered a gay stereotype, although such a topic was too sensitive in his day to be discussed overtly in the dialogue. A rare exception occurred in International House, which was filmed before the Hays Office fully censored filmmaking, and was notable for several risqué references (by 1933 standards). In this scene, Professor Quail, played by W. C. Fields, has just landed his autogyro on the roof of the titular hotel in the Chinese city of Wuhu, but he does not know for sure where he is. Pangborn is the hotel manager:
Professor Quail: Hey! Where am I?
Professor Quail: Woo-Hoo to you sweetheart! Hey Charlie! where am I?
(Fields then removes the flower from his lapel)Professor Quail: Don't let the posy fool you!
Pangborn was an effective foil for many major comedians, including Fields, Harold Lloyd, Olsen and Johnson, and The Ritz Brothers. He appeared regularly in comedies (including several directed by Preston Sturges) and musicals of the 1940s. When movie roles became scarce, he worked in television, including The Red Skelton Show (in which he played a Murderous bandit) and a This Is Your Life tribute to his old boss, Mack Sennett. Pangborn was briefly the announcer on Jack Paar's The Tonight Show in 1957, but was fired after the first few weeks for a lack of "spontaneous enthusiasm" and replaced by Hugh Downs.
- Exit Smiling (1926) – film debut
- Getting Gertie's Garter (1927)
- Cradle Snatchers (1927)
- The Rejuvenation of Aunt Mary (1927)
- On Trial (1928)
- A Blonde for a Night (1928)
- Lady of the Pavements (1929)
- Not So Dumb (1930)
- Cheer Up and Smile (1930)
- Her Man (1930)
- A Lady Surrenders (1930)
- A Woman of Experience (1931)
- Stepping Sisters (1932)
- The Loud Mouth (1932 short)
- The Half-Naked Truth (1932)
- Sing, Bing, Sing (1933 short)
- International House (1933)
- Professional Sweetheart (1933)
- Bed of Roses (1933)
- Headline Shooter (1933)
- Menu (1933 short) (uncredited)
- Wild Poses (1933 Little Rascals short)
- Flying Down to Rio (1933) (uncredited)
- Manhattan Love Song (1934)
- Strictly Dynamite (1934)
- Many Happy Returns (1934)
- Young and Beautiful (1934)
- Tomorrow's Youth (1934)
- The Headline Woman (1935)
- 1,000 Dollars a Minute (1935)
- Don't Gamble with Love (1936)
- Doughnuts and Society (1936)
- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) (uncredited)
- My Man Godfrey (1936) (uncredited)
- Three Smart Girls (1936)
- Easy Living (1937)
- It Happened in Hollywood (1937)
- It's All Yours (1937)
- Stage Door (1937)
- She Married an Artist (1937)
- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938)
- Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)
- Joy of Living (1938)
- Vivacious Lady (1938)
- Always Goodbye (1938)
- Three Blind Mice (1938)
- Four's a Crowd (1938)
- Carefree (1938)
- Just Around the Corner (1938)
- The Girl Downstairs (1938)
- Topper Takes a Trip (1938)
- Broadway Serenade (1939)
- 5th Ave Girl (1939)
- Public Deb No. 1 (1940)
- Christmas in July (1940)
- The Bank Dick (1940)
- Where Did You Get That Girl? (1941)
- A Girl, a Guy and a Gob (1941)
- The Flame of New Orleans (1941)
- Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)
- Weekend for Three (1941)
- Sullivan's Travels (1941)
- Mr. District Attorney in the Carter Case (1941)
- Tillie the Toiler (1941)
- Now, Voyager (1942)
- George Washington Slept Here (1942)
- The Palm Beach Story (1942)
- Obliging Young Lady (1942)
- Strictly in the Groove (1942)
- George Washington Slept Here (1942)
- Reveille with Beverly (1943)
- Stage Door Canteen (1943)
- Holy Matrimony (1943)
- Crazy House (1943)
- My Best Gal (1944)
- Allergic to Love (1944)
- Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
- The Great Moment (1944)
- The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945)
- Tell It to a Star (1945)
- Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946)
- Calendar Girl (1947)
- I'll Be Yours (1947)
- The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947)
- Romance on the High Seas (1948)
- My Dream Is Yours (1949)
- Down Memory Lane (1949)
- The Story of Mankind (1957)
- "Franklin Pangborn | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- "Franklin Pangborn". latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- Franklin Pangborn's last performance, on The Red Skelton Show, April 22, 1958
- Mann, William J. (October 11, 2001). Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910–1969. Viking. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-670-03017-0.
- "Obituary – Franklin Pangborn". Los Angeles Times. July 23, 1958. p. C12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Franklin Pangborn.|
- Franklin Pangborn on IMDb
- Franklin Pangborn at the Internet Broadway Database
- Franklin Pangborn at Find a Grave
|The Tonight Show announcer