Ernest Truex (September 19, 1889 – June 26, 1973) was an American actor of stage, film, and television.
|Born||September 19, 1889|
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||June 26, 1973 (aged 83)|
Fallbrook, California, U.S.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Truex started acting at age five and toured through Missouri at age nine as "The Child Wonder in Scenes from Shakespeare". His Broadway debut came in 1908, and he performed in several David Belasco plays and portrayed the title role in the 1915 musical Very Good Eddie. Truex played the lead role in the disastrous 1923 premiere of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Vegetable. In 1927, he created the role of Bill Paradene in Good Morning, Bill, adapted by P. G. Wodehouse based on a play by Ladislaus Fodor.
In 1926 he performed for the first time in London's West End. He played a leading role in The Fall Guy at the Apollo Theatre. He continued to perform in plays in London for the next three years while his two sons attended Leighton Park boarding school in Reading. In 1927 he acted in Good Morning, Bill at the Duke of York's Theatre and in 1928 he performed in Sexes and Sevens at the Globe Theatre.
He made his film debut in 1913, but did not work in film full-time for another twenty years. He tended to play "milquetoast" characters and in The Warrior's Husband he played a "nance". In the 1938 The Adventures of Marco Polo, he played Marco Polo's comical assistant, opposite Gary Cooper.
Early in television, Truex guest starred on CBS's Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town. In 1949, Truex played Caspar Milquetoast on the DuMont Television Network's Program Playhouse Series. From 1953 to 1954, he co-starred with a young Brandon deWilde in Jamie on ABC. He played aging Grandpa McHummer striking a bond with young Jamie, his recently orphaned grandson.
In later life, he became known for playing elderly men on television in works such as Justice, Mister Peepers, Hazel, and Father Knows Best. He had the main role in the "Kick the Can" episode of Rod Serling's original The Twilight Zone (with his son Barry). In another Twilight Zone episode, "What You Need" (S1, Ep. 12; airdate: Dec. 25, 1959), he played a traveling peddler who just happened to have exactly what people needed just before they knew they needed it.
He starred in the first season (1958 – 1959) of CBS's The Ann Sothern Show as Jason Macauley, the manager of the swank Bartley House hotel in New York City. Reta Shaw played his domineering wife, Flora. In 1960, Truex appeared with Harpo Marx in the episode "Silent Panic" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. He guest starred on the CBS sitcom, Dennis the Menace, with Jay North as the series lead.
His first wife was Julia Mills with whom he had two sons, Philip in 1911 and James in 1912. Philip had an acting career until the early 1950s. Philip Truex's greatest success in the theatre was when he landed the starring role of Og in the Broadway musical Finian's Rainbow in 1947. His most famous film performance is the title role in Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955) as Harry, the corpse dragged all over the countryside by several other characters in this film. Philip had expected to have substantial lines to speak in the role but Hitchcock decided to kill off the character of Harry before he could utter one word. After this disappointment Philip decided to give up acting completely and turned his hand to landscape gardening.
A widower, Ernest married stage actress Mary Jane Barrett, appearing with her in New York in such plays as The Third Little Show, (1931), The Hook-Up (1935), and Fredericka (1937). They had one child, Barry Truex, who had an acting career of his own from 1949 to the early 1960s. His career began in 1949 when he played the role of Ernest's youngest son in the TV situation comedy The Truex Family broadcast on WPIX New York. All of Ernest Truex's immediate family had acting parts in this show which was co-written by his second son James Truex. In 1962 Barry would again play opposite his father Ernest in the episode "Kick the Can" of the TV series The Twilight Zone. Barry's most memorable film roles were in The Benny Goodman Story playing the young Benny Goodman (1956), Rockabilly Baby (1957), and Dragstrip Riot (1958). He also acted in numerous TV productions.
In 1934, Ernest Truex directed, co-produced, and starred in the play Sing and Whistle, which co-starred actress Sylvia Field who would later become his third wife upon his divorce from Mary Jane Barrett.
On June 26, 1973, Truex died of a heart attack at the age of 83.
- Caprice (1913) - Wally Henderson
- An American Citizen (1914) - Mercury
- A Good Little Devil (1914) - Charles MacLance - a Good Little Devil
- Dope (1914) - Jimmy Binkley
- Artie, the Millionaire Kid (1916) - Artie Hamilton
- Come on In (1918) - Ernest Short
- Good-Bye, Bill (1918) - Teddy Swift
- Oh, You Women! (1919) - Abraham Lincoln Jones
- The Night of the Dub (1919, Short)
- Six Cylinder Love (1923) - Gilbert Sterling
- Whistling in the Dark (1933) - Wallace Porter
- The Warrior's Husband (1933) - Sapiens
- Get That Venus (1933) - Tom Wilson
- Everybody Dance (1936) - Wilbur Spurgeon
- Mama Runs Wild (1937) - Ernest Summers
- Start Cheering (1938) - Blodgett
- The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938) - Binguccio
- Freshman Year (1938) - Professor Lucius Peabody
- Swing That Cheer (1938) - Professor Peabody
- Swing, Sister, Swing (1938) - Prof. L. Orlando Beebee
- Ambush (1939) - Mr. Gibbs
- It's a Wonderful World (1939) - Willie Heyward
- Bachelor Mother (1939) - Orphanage Investigator
- Island of Lost Men (1939) - Frobenius
- These Glamour Girls (1939) - Alumnus
- The Under-Pup (1939) - Mr. Binns
- Little Accident (1939) - Tabby Morgan
- Slightly Honorable (1939) - P. Hemingway Collins
- His Girl Friday (1940) - Bensinger
- Adventure in Diamonds (1940) - Toutasche
- Little Orvie (1940) - Frank Stone
- Lillian Russell (1940) - Charles K. Leonard
- Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) - Bailey #1
- Calling All Husbands (1940) - Homer Trippe
- Christmas in July (1940) - Mr. Baxter
- The Gay Vagabond (1941) - A.J. Wilber
- Tillie the Toiler (1941) - George Winkler
- We Go Fast (1941) - Harold Bruggins
- Unexpected Uncle (1941) - Wilkins
- Don't Get Personal (1942) - Jules Kinsey
- Twin Beds (1942) - Larky
- You're Telling Me (1942) - Charles Handley
- Private Buckaroo (1942) - Col. Elias Weatherford
- The Affairs of Martha (1942) - Llewellyn Castle
- Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) - Murgatroyd in Priorities Skit
- The Crystal Ball (1943) - Mr. Martin (uncredited)
- Rhythm of the Islands (1943) - Mr. Holton
- This Is the Army (1943) - Soldier's Father (uncredited)
- Fired Wife (1943) - Willie Wilson
- Sleepy Lagoon (1943) - Dudley Joyner
- True to Life (1943) - Oscar Elkins
- Chip Off the Old Block (1944) - Henry McHugh
- Her Primitive Man (1944) - Uncle Hubert
- Pan-Americana (1945) - Uncle Rudy
- Men in Her Diary (1945) - Vernon Williams
- Club Havana (1945) - Willy Kingston
- Life with Blondie (1945) - Theodore Glassby, Apex Advertising
- Night in Paradise (1946) - Scribe
- Always Together (1947) - Mr. Timothy J. Bull, Attorney
- On an Island with You (1948) - Nightclub Waiter (uncredited)
- The Girl from Manhattan (1948) - Homer Purdy
- The Leather Saint (1956) - Father Ritchie
- All Mine to Give (1957) - Dr. Delbert
- Twilight for the Gods (1958) - Rev. Butterfield
- Fluffy (1965) - Claridge
- Turnbull, Andrew. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Scribner, 1962. p. 140
- "Occasional Performers in Plum's Plays". Wooster Sauce/By the Way. 59: 2. March 2015.
- This Day in Twilight Zone History: Happy birthday to Ernest Truex