Bert Wheeler

Albert Jerome "Bert" Wheeler (April 7, 1895 January 18, 1968) was an American comedian who performed in Broadway theatre, American comedy feature films, and vaudeville acts. He was the comedy partner of Robert Woolsey, and together they formed a successful double act called Wheeler & Woolsey.[1]

Bert Wheeler
Wheeler in 1941
Born(1895-04-07)April 7, 1895
DiedJanuary 18, 1968(1968-01-18) (aged 72)
NationalityAmerican
OccupationActor, Comedian
Years active19201962
Known forWheeler & Woolsey
Spouse(s)
Margaret Grae
(m. 1915; div. 1926)

Bernice Wheeler
(m. 1928; div. 1936)

Sally Haines
(m. 1937; div. 1939)

Patsy Orr
(m. 1940; div. 1950)

Olga Desmondae Rieman
(m. 1951; died 1966)
Children1

Biography

Wheeler was born in Paterson, New Jersey on April 7, 1895.[1]

He worked with Robert Woolsey on Broadway until their film debut in 1929, Rio Rita, established them in the Hollywood film industry.[1][2]

In the early 1940s, after Robert Woolsey had died, Bert Wheeler struggled to restart his career. Their friend and former film costar Dorothy Lee agreed to tour with him in a vaudeville act. He also worked on radio on programs starring Frank Sinatra.[3]

He continued to work off and on through the 1960s. In 1950 he appeared with Jackie Gleason on the early TV variety hour Cavalcade of Stars. His last theatrical films were two slapstick short films for Columbia Pictures, filmed in 1950 and produced by Jules White. He also kept up a busy schedule of live performances in nightclubs and on the legitimate stage, in such plays as Harvey (in the leading role of Elwood P. Dowd) and Three Wishes for Jamie. In 1955 Wheeler co-starred with Keith Larsen in the CBS western series Brave Eagle; Wheeler played the "half-breed" Smokey Joe, known for his tall tales and tribal wisdom.

Bert Wheeler died of emphysema in New York City on January 18, 1968.[1]

Filmography

(As per the AFI database)[4]

Title Year Role Notes
Captain Fly-by-Night 1922 Governor
Rio Rita 1929 Chick Bean
Dixiana 1930 Peewee
The Cuckoos 1930 Sparrow
Half Shot at Sunrise 1930 Tommy Turner
Hook, Line and Sinker 1930 Wilbur Boswell
Caught Plastered 1931 Tommy Tanner
Too Many Cooks 1931 Albert Bennett
Peach-O-Reno 1931 Wattles
Cracked Nuts 1931 Wendell Graham
Hold 'Em Jail 1932 Curly Harris
Girl Crazy 1932 Jimmy Deegan
Diplomaniacs 1933 Willy Nilly
So This Is Africa 1933 Wilbur Wheeler
Kentucky Kernels 1934 Willie Doyle
Hips, Hips, Hooray! 1934 Andy Williams
Cockeyed Cavaliers 1934 Bert Winstanley
The Nitwits 1935 Johnny
The Rainmakers 1935 Billy
Silly Billies 1936 Roy Banks
Mummy's Boys 1936 Stanley Wright
On Again-Off Again 1937 William "Willy" Hobbs
High Flyers 1937 Jerry Lane
The Cowboy Quarterback 1939 Harry Lynn
Las Vegas Nights 1941 Stu Grant

Marriages

Wheeler was married five times. His only child, with Speer, was Patricia Anne Wheeler.

  • Margaret Grae (m. 27 April 1915 to 15 November 1926) divorced.
  • Bernice Speer (m. 15 April 1928 to 19 February 1936) divorced, they had 1 child.[5]
  • Sally Haines (m. 26 February 1937 to 1939) divorced.[6]
  • Patsy Orr (c1940 to c1950) divorced.
  • Olga Desmondae Rieman (m. 1951 - 8 August 1966) to her death.

Home Video Releases

Nine of Wheeler's 21 movies were released in a DVD collection entitled "Wheeler & Woolsey: RKO Comedy Classics Collection" in March 2013 by Warner Archive.[7]

References

  1. "Bert Wheeler, Vaudeville Comic With Rubbery Face, Dead at 72. His Over 50-Year Career in Show Business Spanned Films, the Follies and TV". The New York Times. January 18, 1968. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  2. Mardaunt Hall (October 7, 1929). "Rio Rita (1929)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-05. The acting is uniformly capable. Robert Woolsey is excellent as the fast-talking, deep-voiced, narrow-shouldered Lovett. Bert Wheeler does exceedingly well as Chick Bean.
  3. "Swing Shift". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 7, 1943. p. 15. Retrieved July 24, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  4. "Bert Wheeler". American Film Institute. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  5. "Bert Wheeler Is Divorced". The New York Times. February 20, 1936. Retrieved 2015-01-05. Mrs. Bernice S. Wheeler won an interlocutory divorce today from Bert Wheeler, screen comic, after testifying that his actions saddened her. 'He said he didn't want to live with me,' she testified. Custody of the couple's daughter, Patricia, was granted to Mrs. Wheeler. ...
  6. "Wife Sues Bert Wheeler". The New York Times. May 13, 1939. Retrieved 2015-01-04. Bert Wheeler ... was sued for divorce today by Sally Haines ... The Wheelers married in Beverly Hills Feb. 26, 1937, and separated April 20, 1939
  7. Kehr, Dave (2 March 2013). "DVD Ribaldry Before the Code". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
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