Henry Armetta

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Henry Armetta
Henry Armetta in The Big Store trailer.jpg
In The Big Store (1941) - trailer
Born Enrico Armetta
(1888-07-04)July 4, 1888
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Died October 21, 1945(1945-10-21) (aged 57)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack[1]
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City
Occupation Actor
Years active 1915–1945; his death
Spouse(s) Iole Armetta (1920-1945) (his death) (3 children)

Henry Armetta (July 4, 1888 – October 21, 1945) was an Italian-born American character actor who appeared in at least 150 American films, starting in silents around 1915 to 1946, when his last film was released posthumously.


Armetta was born Enrico Armetta in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. At the age of 14, he stowed away on a boat and came to America. The authorities were ready to send him back when an Italian came forwards to act as his sponsor. He delivered groceries, sold pizzas and performed other menial tasks to get by and eventually ended up working as a pants presser in New York City at a well known club where he managed to befriend actor/producer Raymond Hitchcock, who got him a chorus part in his play A Yankee Consul.[citation needed]

He moved to Hollywood in 1920 and easily found work as stereotypical Italian, often playing a barber, grocer or restaurant owner. He went on to appear in over 152 films (at least 24 films in 1934 alone), often uncredited. In 1938 he appeared in Everybody Sing with Judy Garland, Allan Jones, and Fanny Brice. In 1941, he memorably played the father of a large Italian family shopping for beds in The Big Store opposite the Marx Brothers.[citation needed]

A much thinner Armetta was briefly glimpsed in one of his last appearances in the 1945 Technicolor musical Anchors Aweigh. He died the same year of a heart attack in San Diego. He was survived by his wife, Yole Armetta, and three children. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[2]

Partial filmography[edit]

Henry Armetta with Bobby Breen in Let's Sing Again (1936)


External links[edit]