Edward Everett Horton

Edward Everett Horton Jr. (March 18, 1886 September 29, 1970) was an American character actor.[1] He had a long career in film, theater, radio, television, and voice work for animated cartoons.

Edward Everett Horton
Edward Everett Horton Jr.

(1886-03-18)March 18, 1886
DiedSeptember 29, 1970(1970-09-29) (aged 84)
Other namesE.E. Horton
Edward Horton
Edward E. Horton
Alma materOberlin College (no degree)
Brooklyn Polytechnic
Columbia University
OccupationActor, singer, dancer
Years active1906–1970

Early life

Horton was born in Brooklyn, New York (then an independent city), to Edward Everett Horton, a compositor for The New York Times, and his wife, Isabella S. (née Diack) Horton.[2] His father had English and German ancestry, while his mother was born in Matanzas, Cuba, to George and Mary (Orr) Diack, natives of Scotland.[3] He attended Boys' High School, Brooklyn, and Baltimore City College, where he was later inducted into their Hall of Fame.[4]

He began his college career at Oberlin College in Ohio. However, he was asked to leave after he climbed to the top of a building and, after a crowd gathered, threw off a dummy, making them think he had jumped. He then attended Brooklyn Polytechnic, followed by Columbia University, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi.[5]

Stage and film career

Horton began his stage career in 1906, singing and dancing and playing small parts in vaudeville and in Broadway productions. In 1919, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he began acting in Hollywood films. His first starring role was in the comedy Too Much Business (1922), but he portrayed the lead role of an idealistic young classical composer in the drama Beggar on Horseback (1925). In the late 1920s, he starred in two-reel silent comedies for Educational Pictures and made the transition to talking pictures with Educational in 1929. As a stage-trained performer, he found more film work easily and appeared in some of Warner Bros.' early talkies, including The Terror (1928) and Sonny Boy (1929).

Horton initially used his given name, Edward Horton, professionally, but his father persuaded him to adopt his full name professionally, reasoning that other actors might be named Edward Horton, but only one named Edward Everett Horton. Horton soon cultivated his own special variation of the time-honored double take (an actor's reaction to something, followed by a delayed, more extreme reaction). In Horton's version, he would smile ingratiatingly and nod in agreement with what just happened; then, when realization set in, his facial features collapsed entirely into a sober, troubled mask.

Horton starred in many comedy features in the 1930s, usually playing a mousy fellow who put up with domestic or professional problems to a certain point and then finally asserted himself for a happy ending. He is best known, however, for his work as a character actor in supporting roles. These include The Front Page (1931), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Alice in Wonderland (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934, the first of several Astaire/Rogers films in which Horton appeared), Top Hat (1935), Danger - Love at Work (1937), Lost Horizon (1937), Holiday (1938), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Pocketful of Miracles (1961), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), and Sex and the Single Girl (1964). His last role was in the comedy film Cold Turkey (1971), in which his character communicated only through facial expressions.

Horton continued to appear in stage productions, often in summer stock. His performance in the play Springtime for Henry became a perennial in summer theaters.[6]

Radio and television

From 1945 to 1947, Horton hosted radio's Kraft Music Hall. An early television appearance came in the play Sham, shown on The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre on 13 December 1948. During the 1950s, Horton worked primarily in television. One of his best-remembered appearances is in an episode of CBS's I Love Lucy, broadcast in 1952, in which he is cast against type as a frisky, amorous suitor. In 1960, he guest-starred on ABC's sitcom The Real McCoys as J. Luther Medwick, grandfather of the boyfriend of series character Hassie McCoy (Lydia Reed). In the story line, Medwick clashes with the equally outspoken Grandpa Amos McCoy (played by Walter Brennan).

He remains, however, best known to the Baby Boomer generation as the venerable narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (1959–61),[7] an American animated television series that originally aired from November 19, 1959, to June 27, 1964, on the ABC and NBC television networks.

In 1962, he portrayed the character Uncle Ned in three episodes of the CBS television series Dennis the Menace. In 1965, he played the medicine man, Roaring Chicken, in the ABC sitcom F Troop. He echoed this role, portraying Chief Screaming Chicken, on ABC's Batman as a pawn to Vincent Price's Egghead in the villain's attempt to take control of Gotham City.

Death and legacy

Horton died of cancer in 1970 at age 84 in Encino, California. His remains were interred in Glendale's Whispering Pines section of Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.[8] Horton never publicly discussed his private life.

In 1925, Horton purchased several acres in the district of Encino and lived on the property at 5521 Amestoy Avenue until his death. He named the estate, which contained Horton's own house and houses for his brother, his sister and their respective families, Belleigh Acres.[1] In the 1950s, the state of California forced Horton to sell a portion of his property for construction of the Ventura Freeway. The freeway construction left a short stump of Amestoy Avenue south of Burbank Boulevard, and shortly after his death the city of Los Angeles renamed that portion Edward Everett Horton Lane.[9]

Edward Everett Horton Lane begins in the shadow of the Ventura Freeway and ends at Burbank Boulevard. On the other side of the boulevard is a bus stop, also named for Edward Everett Horton, between bus stops at Aldea and Balboa. The borderline of Anthony C. Beilenson Park is directly across the street from the corner of Burbank Boulevard and EE Horton Lane. The opposite end of the lane leads to a foot bridge that overlooks the Ventura Freeway and ends up on the Amestoy Avenue side.

British Radio DJ and Comedian Kenny Everett adopted the name of Everett in honor of Horton, who was a childhood hero of his. (Kenny's real name was Maurice Cole.)[10]

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Horton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6427 Hollywood Boulevard.[11]


All feature films are listed below; only some shorts are missing.
Year Title Role Notes
1922 Too Much Business John Henry Jackson (film debut)
The Ladder Jinx Arthur Barnes
A Front Page Story Rodney Marvin
1923 Ruggles of Red Gap Ruggles Credited as Edward Horton
The Vow of Vengeance
To the Ladies Leonard Beebe
1924 Flapper Wives Vincent Platt
Try and Get It Glenn Collins
The Man Who Fights Alone Bob Alten
Helen's Babies Uncle Harry
1925 Beggar on Horseback Neil McRae
Marry Me John Smith #2
The Business of Love Edward Burgess
1926 La Bohème Colline
Poker Faces Jimmy Whitmore
The Whole Town's Talking Chester Binney
1927 Taxi! Taxi! Peter Whitby
1928 The Terror Ferdinand Fane
1929 Ask Dad Dad Short film
Sonny Boy Crandall Thorpe
The Hottentot Sam Harrington
The Sap The Sap
The Aviator Robert Steele
1930 Take the Heir Smithers
Wide Open Simon Haldane
Holiday Nick Potter
Once a Gentleman Oliver
Reaching for the Moon Roger - the Valet
1931 Kiss Me Again René Alternative title: Toast of the Legion
Lonely Wives Richard Smith / Felix, the Great Zero
The Front Page Roy V. Bensinger
Six Cylinder Love Monty Winston
Smart Woman Billy Ross
The Age for Love Horace Keats
1932 But the Flesh Is Weak Sir George Kelvin
Roar of the Dragon Busby
Trouble in Paradise François Filiba
1933 Soldiers of the King Sebastian Marvello
A Bedtime Story Victor Dubois
It's a Boy Dudley Leake
The Way to Love Prof. Gaston Bibi
Design for Living Max Plunkett
Alice in Wonderland The Mad Hatter
1934 Easy to Love Eric
The Poor Rich Albert Stuyvesant Spottiswood
Success at Any Price Fisher
Uncertain Lady Elliot Crane
Sing and Like It Adam Frink - Producer
Smarty Vernon
Kiss and Make-Up Marcel Caron
Ladies Should Listen Paul Vernet
The Merry Widow Ambassador Popoff
The Gay Divorcee Egbert Fitzgerald
1935 Biography of a Bachelor Girl Leander 'Bunny' Nolan
The Night Is Young Baron Szereny
All the King's Horses Count Josef von Schlapstaat
The Devil Is a Woman Gov. Don Paquito 'Paquitito'
$10 Raise Hubert T. Wilkins
In Caliente Harold Brandon
Going Highbrow Augie Winterspoon
Top Hat Horace Hardwick
The Private Secretary Reverend Robert Spalding
Little Big Shot Mortimer
His Night Out Homer B. Bitts
Your Uncle Dudley Dudley Dixon
1936 Her Master's Voice Ned Farrar
The Singing Kid Davenport Rogers
Nobody's Fool Will Wright
Hearts Divided John
The Man in the Mirror Jeremy Dilke
Let's Make a Million Harrison Gentry
1937 Lost Horizon Alexander P. Lovett
The King and the Chorus Girl Count Humbert Evel Bruger
Oh, Doctor Edward J. Billop
Shall We Dance Jeffrey Baird
Wild Money P.E. Dodd
Danger – Love at Work Howard Rogers
Angel Graham
The Perfect Specimen Mr. Grattan
The Great Garrick Tubby
Hitting a New High Lucius B. Blynn
1938 Bluebeard's Eighth Wife The Marquis De Loiselle
College Swing Hubert Dash
Holiday Professor Nick Potter
Little Tough Guys in Society Oliver
1939 Paris Honeymoon Ernest Figg
The Gang's All Here Treadwell
That's Right—You're Wrong Tom Village
1941 You're the One Death Valley Joe Frink
Ziegfeld Girl Noble Sage
Sunny Henry Bates
Bachelor Daddy Joseph Smith
Here Comes Mr. Jordan Messenger 7013
Week-End for Three Stonebraker
The Body Disappears Professor Shotesbury
1942 The Magnificent Dope Horace Hunter
I Married an Angel Peter
Springtime in the Rockies McTavish
1943 Forever and a Day Sir Anthony Trimble-Pomfret
Thank Your Lucky Stars Farnsworth
The Gang's All Here Peyton Potter
1944 Her Primitive Man Orrin
Summer Storm Count 'Piggy' Volsky
Arsenic and Old Lace Mr. Witherspoon
San Diego, I Love You Philip McCooley
Brazil Everett St. John Everett
The Town Went Wild Everett Conway
1945 Steppin' in Society Judge Avery Webster
Lady on a Train Mr. Haskell
1946 Cinderella Jones Keating
Faithful in My Fashion Hiram Dilworthy
Earl Carroll Sketchbook Dr. Milo Edwards
1947 The Ghost Goes Wild Eric
Down to Earth Messenger 7013
Her Husband's Affairs J. B. Cruikshank
1955 Max Liebman Presents: The Merry Widow Baron Zelta TV movie
1956 Saturday Spectacular: Manhattan Tower Noah TV movie
1957 The Story of Mankind Sir Walter Raleigh
1961 Pocketful of Miracles Hudgins
1963 One Got Fat Narrator Short subject
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Mr. Dinckler
1964 Sex and the Single Girl The Chief
1967 The Perils of Pauline Caspar Coleman
1969 2000 Years Later Evermore
1971 Cold Turkey Hiram C. Grayson (non-speaking role) (final film role); released posthumously

Partial television credits

Year Title Role Episode(s)
1949 The Ford Theatre Hour Sheridan Whiteside 1 episode
1952 I Love Lucy Mr. Ritter 1 episode
1956 General Electric Theater Mr. Parkinson 1 episode
1957 Playhouse 90 Mr. Carver 1 episode
1959–1964 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends Many Roles All episodes
1960 The Real McCoys Mr. Medwick 1 episode
1962 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Senator Crabtree 1 episode
1962–1963 Dennis the Menace Ned Matthews 3 episodes
1963 Our Man Higgins Rawley "Who's on First?" with Don Drysdale
1965 Burke's Law Wilbur Starlington 1 episode
1965–1966 F Troop Roaring Chicken 6 episodes
1966 Batman Chief Screaming Chicken episodes 47 and 48
1969 It Takes a Thief Lord Pelham-Gifford 1 episode
1969 2000 Years Later Evermore
1970 Nanny and the Professor Professor Clarendon 1 episode
1971 The Governor & J.J. Doc Simon 2 episodes

Radio appearances

1952Musical Comedy TheaterOn an Island with You[12]


  1. Fowler, James (April 12, 1997). "Horton's House Grew with Film Career". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  2. "Actor Edward Everett Horton Dies at 84". Dayton Beach Morning Journal. October 1, 1970.
  3. "Edward Everett Horton, Jr". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  4. Bernstein, Neil (2008). "Notable City College Knights". Baltimore, MD: Baltimore City College Alumni Association.
  5. Keehn, Roy D. (1910). Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity (7th ed.). Chicago: Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. p. 289. OCLC 5469453.
  6. Aliperti, Cliff (December 7, 2011). "Edward Everett Horton – Biography of the Beloved Character Actor". Immortal Ephemera. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  7. Desowitz, Bill (August 27, 1999). "Something 'Fractured,' Something New". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  8. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 22166). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  9. "Edward Everett Horton's Encino Ranch Estate and the 101 Freeway; How A Celebrity Lost His Ranch to Suburbanization". San Fernando Valley Blog. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  10. Larkin, Colin (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Seventies Music. Virgin, Muze. p. 148. ISBN 0753501546.
  11. http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/edward-everett-horton/
  12. Kirby, Walter (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 23, 2015 via Newspapers.com.

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