Edward Ellis (actor)

Edward Mayne Ellis (November 12, 1870 – July 26, 1952) was an American actor. He is best known for playing the title role in The Thin Man, as well as in A Man to Remember.

Edward Ellis
Ellis in 1938
Edward Mayne Ellis

(1870-11-12)November 12, 1870
DiedJuly 26, 1952(1952-07-26) (aged 81)
OccupationActor, producer, screenwriter
Years active1879–1934 (stage)
1917–1942 (film)
Spouse(s)Josephine Stevens (1917mid-1920s)

Early life

Ellis was born in Coldwater, Michigan,[1] the second child of Edward C. Ellis, a playwright and actor and Ruth McCarthy Ellis, an actress. He was the younger brother of stage actress and writer Edith Ellis.


He made his first stage appearance in 1879 in Chicago. He was an actor, playwright and producer on Broadway before going into films. His first adult performance was in Mary and John in 1905. He toured all over America and also played in England. Edward Ellis was a dramatic author and also wrote the playscript for the 1934 play Affair of a Gentleman.

In films, he played mostly supporting roles, his only leading roles being in Main Street Lawyer (1939) and in A Man to Remember (1938) and Three Sons (1939), a remake of Lionel Barrymore's Sweepings (1933). He starred in 37 films, but is probably best remembered for his roles as the resolute sheriff in Fury, as Shirley Temple's uncle in Little Miss Broadway and the leading role in A Man to Remember.

He is also well known as Clyde Wynant, the wealthy industrialist, whose disappearance private eye Nick Charles (played by William Powell) had been hired to investigate in the 1934 hit MGM film The Thin Man. The title does not refer to Powell's character, as is so widely assumed, but to Ellis' character in the film.

In 1939, Frank Capra offered Ellis the role of the President of the Senate in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, however he refused the part which went to Harry Carey.[2][3]

His last appearance was as Mr. Vane in The Omaha Trail (1942).

Personal life

He was briefly married to silent film actress Josephine Stevens from 1917 to the mid 1920s. Their union produced one daughter, Roberta (Bobbie) Ellis born in 1918.[2] Ellis died on July 26, 1952 at the age of 81 from heart failure due to prostate cancer.

Partial filmography


  1. "Coldwater, Michigan". City-Data.com. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  2. Cliff Aliperti (November 13, 2012). "Edward Ellis – A Biography of The Thin Man, an Actor to Remember". Immortal Ephemera. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  3. Robbin Coons (October 2, 1942). "Hollywood Sights and Sounds". Evening Courier. Prescott, Arizona. p. 7. Retrieved February 20, 2016.

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