Percy Helton

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Percy Helton
Percy Helton.jpg
Helton in Criss Cross (1949)
Born
Percy Alfred Helton

(1894-01-31)January 31, 1894
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 11, 1971(1971-09-11) (aged 77)
Resting placePierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary
OccupationActor
Years active1896–1970
Spouse(s)
Edna Eustace Helton
(m. 1931⁠–⁠1971)

Percy Alfred Helton (January 31, 1894 – September 11, 1971)[1] was an American stage, film, and television actor. He was one of the most familiar faces and voices in Hollywood of the 1950s.

Career[edit]

A Manhattan native, Helton began acting at the age of two, appearing in vaudeville acts with his British-born father, Alfred "Alf" Helton[2] (born William Alfred Michel).[citation needed] He was a cast member in the Broadway production of Julie BonBon (1906).[1] Helton went on to perform in stock theater[3] and in other Broadway plays.

Helton joined the United States Army in World War I. Deployed to Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his duty with the 77th Infantry Division's 305th Field Artillery.[4]

Helton returned to acting and singing professionally after his discharge from the army. However, in one of his subsequent stage roles he was required to shout and scream his lines during much of the play. The resulting stress and damage to his vocal cords after repeated performances left him permanently hoarse, with a raspy falsetto voice and a breathy delivery.[citation needed] That change in his voice altered Helton's career. He remained in acting but chiefly as a character actor in a wide range of films and television programs in the 1950s and 1960s. Among those programs were three guest appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of Asa Cooperman in the 1961 episode "The Case of the Pathetic Patient", as a pawn broker in the 1961 episode "The Case of the Torrid Tapestry." and as a hotel clerk in the 1965 episode "The Case of the Careless Kitten."

Films in which he performed include Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Criss Cross (1949), The Set-Up (1949), Kiss Me Deadly (1955), and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). He co-starred in several films noir, including Wicked Woman (1953).

Personal life and death[edit]

Helton married actress Edna Helton (née Eustace) on October 24, 1931, and was married to her until his death. They had no children.[citation needed]

He died at age 77 at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center on September 11, 1971, the year of his final film appearance. His ashes are inurned at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles, California.

Partial filmography[edit]

Television appearances[edit]

Commercial Appearances[edit]

  • Mandom, Japanese Perfume Commercial (1976) as Hotel Doorman

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Percy Helton". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on March 4, 2020. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  2. ^ "What's-His-Name Is Really Last Of Leprechauns". Valley Times. California, North Hollywood. March 15, 1969. p. 20. Retrieved March 4, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Juvenile Roles Were Specialty of Percy Helton". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. April 21, 1935. p. 57. Retrieved March 4, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Obituary, "Percy Helton, Actor in 200 Films, is Dead." The New York Times. September 14, 1971. Retrieved April 6, 2017.

Helton is not listed on the US Army rolls as having received the Distinguished Service Cross in WWI. This story was probably the result of an overzealous Hollywood agent.

External links[edit]