Edward Everett Horton (March 18, 1886 – September 29, 1970) was an American character actor.[2] He had a long career in film, theater, radio, television and voice work for animated cartoons. He is especially known for his work in the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Early life

Horton was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Isabella S. Diack and Edward Everett Horton. His mother was born in Matanzas, Cuba to Mary Orr and George Diack, immigrants from Scotland.[3] Many sources state that Edward Everett Horton's grandfather and namesake was Edward Everett Hale, author of The Man Without a Country.[citation needed] Horton attended the Boys' High School, Brooklyn, and Baltimore City College high school in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was inducted into that school's Hall of Fame.[4] He attended college at Brooklyn Polytechnic and Columbia University, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity.

Stage and film career

Horton started 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, and started getting roles in Hollywood films. His first starring role was in the 1922 comedy film Too Much Business, and he portrayed the lead role of an idealistic young classical composer in Beggar on Horseback in 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 movie work easily, and appeared in some of Warner Bros.' early talkies, including The Hottentot and Sonny Boy. His distinctive voice was one of his trademarks.

Horton originally went under his given name, Edward Horton. His father persuaded him to adopt his full name professionally, reasoning that there might be other actors named Edward Horton, but only one named Edward Everett Horton.

Horton's screen character was instantly defined from his earliest talkies: pleasant and dignified, but politely hesitant when faced with a potentially embarrassing situation. 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. Some of his noteworthy films include The Front Page (1931), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Alice in Wonderland (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935, one of several Astaire/Rogers films in which Horton appeared), Danger - Love at Work (1937), Lost Horizon (1937), Holiday (1938), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Pocketful of Miracles (1961), and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). He last appeared in a non-speaking role in Cold Turkey (1971).

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.

Horton figures in some biographies of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, as Fitzgerald lived in a cottage on Horton's estate for a time in the late 1930s.

In a scene in Friz Freleng's cartoon Hare Trigger, Yosemite Sam (in his debut) calls himself "...the rip-snortin'-est, Edward Everett Horton-est he-man of 'em all!"

Radio and television

From 1945 to 1947, Horton hosted radio's Kraft Music Hall. During the 1950s, Horton worked in television. One of his most famous appearances is an I Love Lucy episode, where he is cast against type as a frisky, amorous suitor. (Horton, a last-minute replacement for another actor, received a special, appreciative credit in this episode.) Beginning in 1959 he narrated the "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment of the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon show. In 1965 he played the medicine man, Roaring Chicken, in the sitcom F Troop. He parodied this role, portraying "Chief Screaming Chicken" on Batman as a pawn to Vincent Price's Egghead in the villain's attempt to take control of Gotham City.


Horton died of cancer at age 84 in Encino, California. He is buried in Glendale's Whispering Pines section of Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

Shortly after he died, the city of Los Angeles renamed a portion of Amestoy Avenue, the dead-end street where he lived in the district of Encino, "Edward Everett Horton Lane". For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Edward Everett Horton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6427 Hollywood Boulevard.

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1923 Ruggles of Red Gap Ruggles Credited as Edward Horton
1926 La Bohème Colline
1929 Ask Dad Dad Short film
Sonny Boy Crandall Thorpe
The Aviator Robert Steele
1930 Holiday Nick Potter
1931 Kiss Me Again René Alternative title: Toast of the Legion
The Front Page Roy V. Bensinger
1932 Trouble in Paradise François Filiba
1933 A Bedtime Story Victor Dubois
Alice in Wonderland The Mad Hatter
Design for Living Max Plunkett
1934 Kiss and Make-Up Marcel Caron
Ladies Should Listen Paul Vernet
The Merry Widow Ambassador Popoff
The Gay Divorcee Egbert Fitzgerald
1935 The Private Secretary Reverend Robert Spalding
The Devil Is a Woman Governor Don "Paquitito" Paquito
In Caliente Harold Brandon
Top Hat Horace Hardwick
1936 Man in the Mirror Jeremy Dilke
1937 Lost Horizon Alexander P. Lovett
Shall We Dance Jeffrey Baird
Danger - Love at Work Howard Rogers
The Great Garrick Tubby
Angel Graham
1938 Bluebeard's Eighth Wife The Marquis De Loiselle
College Swing Hubert Dash
Holiday Professor Nick Potter
1939 That’s Right You’re Wrong Tom Village
1941 Ziegfeld Girl Noble Sage
Sunny Henry Bates
Here Comes Mr. Jordan Messenger 7013
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 Arsenic and Old Lace Mr. Witherspoon
Brazil Everett St. John Everett
The Town Went Wild Everett Conway
1945 Lady on a Train Mr. Haskell
1947 Down to Earth Messenger 7013
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 Cameo as Mr. Dinckler
1964 Sex and the Single Girl The Chief
1967 The Perils of Pauline Caspar Coleman
1971 Cold Turkey Hiram C. Grayson (non-speaking role) Released posthumously
Year Title Role Notes
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
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
1965-1966 F Troop Roaring Chicken 6 episodes
1969 It Takes a Thief Lord Pelham-Gifford 1 episode
1970 Nanny and the Professor Professor Clarendon 1 episode
1971 The Governor & J.J. Doc Simon 2 episodes


  1. http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/26/br_eccentrics.html
  2. Obituary Variety, October 7, 1970, page 55.
  3. 1
  4. Bernstein, Neil (2008). "Notable City College Knights". Baltimore: Baltimore City College Alumni Association. 

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External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:IMDb name

it:Edward Everett Horton

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