|Paul "Mousie" Garner|
July 31, 1909|
Washington, D.C., USA
|Died||August 8, 2004
Glendale, California, USA
Paul Albert "Mousie" Garner (July 31, 1909 – August 8, 2004) was an American actor. Garner earned his nickname by assuming the role of a shy, simpering jokester. Garner was one of the last actors still doing schtick from vaudeville, and has been referred to as "The Grand Old Man Of Vaudeville."
He was born on July 31, 1909 in Washington, D.C.
In addition to big-time vaudeville, Mousie Garner also appeared on Broadway and in major national touring companies; in short subjects, feature films and documentaries; on network television, cable and radio shows; and in nightclubs, auditoriums and concert halls.
Mousie Garner made his stage debut as a child in 1913, singing, dancing and imitating Al Jolson in a family musical-comedy act developed by his father. While still a child, Garner entertained soldiers during World War I. By the time he was a teenager in the 1920s, he had already decided upon a career on the vaudeville stage. Garner was part of Ted Healy's new stooges after the departure of Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard. Garner, also known as "The Grand Old Man of Vaudeville," was one of over 20 comedians who worked as part of Ted Healy's stooge act with his cousin, Jack Wolf (father of Warner Wolf) and Richard "Dick" Hakins between 1922 and 1936. He was never a member of The Three Stooges at the same time as Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Curly Howard or Shemp Howard. He would later join the New Three Stooges in 1974 with official Stooge Joe DeRita. Garner continued working on stage and on screen with Dick Hakins, and either his cousin Jack Wolf or Wolf's replacement, Sammy Wolfe, in a musical comedy trio known as The Gentlemaniacs (aka: Garner, Wolf [or Wolfe] and Hakins) throughout the 1920s and '30s. The Gentlemaniacs starred in several feature films and short subjects including After the Show (1929), Swing It Professor (1937), The Hit Parade (1937), Murder With Reservations (1938) and Radio and Relatives (1938).
Serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Garner was shipped overseas and he achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant before completing his hitch. He participated in the Allied forces' North African campaign, and was injured twice on duty. He received several commendations and after recovering from his wartime injuries, Garner joined the U.S.O. to star in Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson's "Sons O' Fun", the touring version of "Hellzapoppin'". The show was staged for servicemen throughout Europe during the Allies' postwar occupation. Garner's service in the U.S.O would continue throughout both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, as he continued to entertain the troops throughout the 1950s and '60s.
While living in Los Angeles in the 1950s and '60s, Garner continued to work as a comic with U.S.O., as a touring solo and ensemble stage comedian and as a television performer. Garner appeared on The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Jack Benny Program, Cavalcade of Stars, The Jackie Gleason Show, The NBC Comedy Hour, and Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall throughout the 1950s.
Garner also worked on stage and on television with Spike Jones and His City Slickers throughout the last half of the 1950s. By the 1960s, Garner was a popular character actor on such television programs as Maverick, Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond, Lock Up, Surfside 6, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, 77 Sunset Strip, Wendy and Me, The Munsters, Petticoat Junction, No Time For Sergeants, Mister Roberts, Honey West, Mr. Terrific, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, and Julia. Throughout the 1970s, Garner continued to appeared on television variety shows like The Red Skelton Show and The Bobby Vinton Show. In the 1980s, Garner continued to accept bit roles on such television programs as CHiPs, Brothers, and Emmy Award winning Amazing Stories.
In 1964, Garner appeared in the film For Those Who Think Young and also played a bit part in Last of the Red Hot Lovers in 1972. That same year, Garner appeared in the made for TV movie Goodnight, My Love which was followed by his appearance in Frasier, the Sensuous Lion (1973) and American Raspberry (1977). In 1980, Garner appeared in the made for TV movie The Dream Merchants as well as Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980). In 1981, Garner was featured in the Richard Benjamin film Saturday the 14th and would go on to play bit parts in Rhinestone (1984) and Avenging Angel (1985). Garner also played Billy Crystal's Uncle Lou in Billy Crystal: A Comic's Line (1984) and a zany cameraman in David Lee Roth's "Just a Gigolo" (1985) music video. In 1985, Garner played a bit part in, appropriately, the film Stoogemania. In 1988, Garner appeared with Sid Caesar, Danny Thomas and Milton Berle in the made for TV film Side By Side. In 1994 he appeared in the film Radioland Murders as an homage to his work with Spike Jones and His City Slickers. He also appeared as Uncle Smackers, a character in The Onion Movie, a feature film produced by David Zucker, renowned for Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, which was released in 2008.
Garner enjoyed a successful 75 year career as a comedian and show business professional.
Mousie Garner appears in several entertainment biographies including "Spike Jones and His City Slickers: An Illustrated Biography", "Moe Howard & The Three Stooges", "The Stooge Chronicles", "The Stoogephile Trivia Book", and in 2002 he wrote the introduction to "The Three Stooges: The Triumphs and Tragedies of The Most Popular Comedy Team of All Time". His autobiography, entitled Mousie Garner: Autobiography of a Vaudeville Stooge, was published in 1999. His nephew, Stephen Garner, a professional magician from Maryland, supplied most of the pictures for the book.
After suffering from kidney problems, Garner died on August 8, 2004 at Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, California, just over a week after his 95th birthday. Garner was interred with his family at the Bnai Israel Cemetery in Oxon Hill, Maryland. He was the last major celebrity associated with Ted Healy and Three Stooges to die.
- Kissane, Sharon F. Mrotek; Garner, Paul H. (1999). Mousie Garner: autobiography of a vaudeville stooge. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-0581-3.
- AP (August 16, 2004). "Paul Garner (obit)". Toledo Blade.
- Associated Press (August 16, 2004). "Paul Garner, a Vaudeville Actor, Dies at 95". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-26.
Paul Garner, a diminutive comic actor who appeared on the vaudeville stage, in films, on television and sometimes with some of the Three Stooges, died here on Sunday. He was 95. His death, at Verdugo Hills Hospital, was confirmed by that institution's spokeswoman, Ellen Borja.