Robert Woolsey

Robert Rollie Woolsey (August 14, 1888 October 31, 1938) was an American stage and screen comedian and half of the 1930s comedy team Wheeler & Woolsey.[1][2]

Robert Woolsey
Bert Wheeler (left) and Robert Woolsey (right) in 1931
Born(1888-08-14)August 14, 1888
DiedOctober 31, 1938(1938-10-31) (aged 50)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery
OccupationActor, Comedian
Years active1918-1937
Known forWheeler & Woolsey
Mignone Park Reed
(m. 1917; his death 1938)

Early life

Robert Rollie (sometimes spelled Rolla or even Raleigh)[3] was born on August 14, 1888, in Carbondale, Illinois[2][4] to James Monroe Woolsey (1860-1920) and Sarah Eunice Woolsey (nee Noble) (1862-1954), both also born in Illinois.[4] Woolsey, who had brown eyes and hair with a slight and slender build[2] tried to capitalize on his size, as a young adult, by becoming a jockey. After he fell from a horse and sustained a fractured leg, he quit racing and turned instead to the vaudeville stage.[5] In 1925 he was featured as "Mortimer Pottle" in W. C. Fields's Broadway hit Poppy.

Wheeler and Woolsey

Woolsey was teamed with comedy star Bert Wheeler in 1928, for the Broadway musical Rio Rita. RKO Radio Pictures filmed the play in 1929, launching Wheeler and Woolsey as movie personalities. Twenty-one of the twenty-two films Woolsey made would be with his comedy partner, Wheeler.


From 1921 to his death in 1938, Woolsey was married to Georgia girl Mignonne Park Reed, daughter of Mrs. Mary Reed also from Georgia.[4][6][7]


Woolsey became terminally ill in 1936 and struggled to finish his last picture, High Flyers, which was released in 1937. His condition forced him to sever his working relationship with Wheeler.[6] He was then confined to bed for almost a full year, before dying of kidney failure in 1938.[8] Robert Woolsey was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.


(As per the AFI database)[9]

Title Year Role Notes
Rio Rita 1929 Ned Lovett
Dixiana 1930 Ginger Dandy
The Cuckoos 1930 Professor Cunningham
Half Shot at Sunrise 1930 Gilbert
Hook, Line and Sinker 1930 Addington Ganzy
Everything's Rosie 1931 Dr. J. Dockweiler Droop
Caught Plastered 1931 Egbert G. Higginbotham
Peach O'Reno 1931 Julius Swift
Cracked Nuts 1931 Zander "Zup" Ulysses Parkhurst
Hold 'Em Jail 1932 Spider Robbins
Girl Crazy 1932 Slick Foster
Diplomaniacs 1933 Hercules Glub
So This Is Africa 1933 Alexander Woolsey
Kentucky Kernels 1934 "The Great" Elmer Dugan
Hips, Hips, Hooray! 1934 Dr. Bob Dudley
Cockeyed Cavaliers 1934 Robert Maltravers
The Nitwits 1935 Newton
The Rainmakers 1935 Roscoe the Rainmaker
Silly Billies 1936 Dr. Philip "Painless" Pennington
Mummy's Boys 1936 Aloysius C. Whittaker
On Again-Off Again 1937 Claude (Augustus) Horton
High Flyers 1937 Pierre Potkins (final film role)

DVD releases

Nine of Wheeler and Woolsey's 21 movies were released in a DVD collection entitled "Wheeler & Woolsey: RKO Comedy Classics Collection" in March 2013 by Warner Archive.[10]

{U.S. Census Records indicate he was born in Carbondale, Jackson Co, IL}


  1. "U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007". (original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007). Retrieved November 27, 2018. Rollie is official government record of middle name.
  2. "World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918". (original data United States Selective Service). Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  3. "Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900". (original data: Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  4. "Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930". (original data: Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  5. "Robert Woolsey Laid to Rest: Friends Say Farewell to Actor at Service in Forest Lawn". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. November 5, 1938. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  6. "Death Calls to Woolsey: Member of Famous Film Comedy Team Succumbs at Malibu". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. November 1, 1938. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  7. Dorothy Lee
  8. "Robert Woolsey, Film Comedian, 49. Partner of Bert Wheeler in Many Pictures and on the Stage Dies in California. In First 'Rio Rita' Cast. That New York Success Led to Movie Contract. Big Cigar Was His Principal Prop. Played in Stock on Coast. Won Honors With Ziegfeld". New York Times. November 1, 1938. Retrieved 2015-01-04. Robert Woolsey, motion picture comedian, died today at his home here after a long illness at the age of 49. ...
  9. "Bert Wheeler". American Film Institute. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  10. Kehr, Dave (2 March 2013). "DVD Ribaldry Before the Code". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2013.

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