Darlings! Mummy has made a decision! After reading dozens of posts and having hundreds of conversations with well-meaning folks who just don't know about the great CHARACTER actors who gave films the depth and genius that surrounded and supported the so-called "stars", I am going to post a regular, special entry called SYBIL'S "WHO'Z DAT??"....there'll be photos and a mini-bio, and the next time you see one of those familiar, fabulous faces that you just "can't quite place".......well, maybe these posts will help. Some of these actors worked more, had longer and broader careers, and ended up happier, more loved, and even wealthier than the "stars" that the public "worships"......I think there may be a metaphor in that! What do you think?? Well, while you’re mulling that over, here’s a face that folks have seen a gazillion times on both the silver and the television screen... and sometimes his face was all that was needed to convey a fabulous character in some of the great films he appeared in; no spoken lines required!
He's Irving Bacon (September 6, 1893 – February 5, 1965). Born Irving von Peters in St. Joseph, Missouri, he was the son of Millar von Peters and Myrtle Vane, an actress. He moved to California at an early age and attended Santa Clara College in San Jose, California. An American character actor who eventually appeared in almost 500 films, he appeared on the regional stage for a number of years before getting into silent films. Irving first found work in comedy shorts at Keystone Studios usually playing older than he was and, for a time, was a utility player for Mack Sennett in such “slapsticks” as A FAVORITE FOOL (1915). He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War I and rose to the rank of Sergeant First Class. After the war, he returned to Hollywood. Although no relation and often mistakenly thought to be his brother, he worked with director Lloyd Bacon, who cast him in silent funnies starting with GOOD MORNING, NURSE (1925), which was written by Frank Capra, HURRY, DOCTOR! (1925) and WIDE OPEN FACES (1926).
As a character actor who appeared in literally hundreds of films, Irving Bacon could always be counted on for expressing bug-eyed bewilderment or cautious frustration in small-town settings with his revolving door of friendly, servile parts - mailmen, milkmen, clerks, chauffeurs, cab drivers, bartenders, soda jerks, carnival operators, handymen, and country doctors. Irving made an easy adjustment when sound entered the pictures with his gawky voice and after appearing in the Karl Dane and George K. Arthur two-reel comedy shorts such as KNIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1930), began to show up in feature-length films. He played higher-ups on occasion, such as the Secretary of the Navy in MILLION DOLLAR LEGS (1932), a police inspector in HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1934), a mayor in ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952), and a judge in AMBUSH AT CIMARRON PASS (1958), but those were exceptions to the rule. Blending in with the town crowd was what Irving was accustomed to and, over the years, he would be glimpsed in some of Hollywood's most beloved classics such as Capra's MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) with Gary Cooper, SAN FRANCISCO (1936) with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938) with Jimmy Stewart and Lionel Barrymore, and Judy Garland’s A STAR IS BORN (1954). Trivia nuts will fondly recall his beleaguered postman Mr. Crumb in several of Columbia Pictures' BLONDIE film series that ran from 1938 to 1950. Bacon married Freda Lee Scofield and had two children: Robert (1922) and Barbara (1927). His wife died within a year or so after the birth of their second child. Over his long and amazingly prolific career, he worked in every genre; musicals, comedies, thrillers, romances, for the greatest directors; Hitchcock, Capra, John Ford, George Cukor, Victor Fleming, and appeared in iconic films; THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940), MEET JOHN DOE (1941), and HOLIDAY INN (1942). He appeared in three Best Picture Academy Award winners: IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938) AND GONE WITH THE WIND (1939). Ward Bond, Eddy Chandler, and Wallis Clark also appeared in all three films.
Irving could also be spotted on popular '50s and '60s TV programs such as the Westerns LARAMIE (1959) and WAGON TRAIN (1957), and comedies DECEMBER BRIDE (1954) and THE REAL MCCOYS (1957). He can still be seen in a couple of old codger roles on I LOVE LUCY reruns (1951). One was as a marriage license proprietor and the other as Vivian Vance's doting dad from Albuquerque, to whom she paid a visit on her way to Hollywood with the Ricardos. Irving died on February 5, 1965, in Hollywood, having appeared in nearly 500 features. Interestingly, he was buried in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery for Veterans in San Diego. The inscription on his gravestone reads, SFC US ARMY AIR CORPS WORLD WAR I. He was 71 years old.
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