Henry Armetta

Henry Armetta (born Enrico Armetta; July 4, 1888 – October 21, 1945) was an American character actor who appeared in at least 150 American films, beginning in silent movies. His last film was released posthumously in 1946, the year after his death.

Henry Armetta
Henry Armetta in The Big Store trailer.jpg
Enrico Armetta

(1888-07-04)July 4, 1888
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
DiedOctober 21, 1945(1945-10-21) (aged 57)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City
Years active1915–1945; his death
SpouseIole Armetta (1920–1945) (his death) (3 children)


Armetta was born in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. At the age of 14, he stowed away on a boat to America. The immigration authorities were prepared to send him back, but he found an Italian family to act as his sponsor. He settled in New York City where he delivered groceries, sold sandwiches and pizzas and performed other menial tasks to get by. He eventually ended up working as a pants presser at a well known club where he was befriended by actor/producer Raymond Hitchcock. Hitchcock got him a chorus part in his play A Yankee Consul.

After a friend told him about southern California's mushrooming film industry, Armetta hitchhiked to Hollywood in 1920 and soon found work in films as a stereotypical Italian, often playing a barber, grocer or restaurant owner. He went on to appear in over 152 films (at least 24 films in 1934 alone), often uncredited. Armetta appeared in several films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer including Romance (1930) starring Greta Garbo, What! No Beer? (1933) with Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante, Everybody Sing (1938) featuring Judy Garland, Allan Jones, and Fanny Brice, The Big Store (1941) opposite the Marx Brothers, and a much thinner Armetta was briefly glimpsed in one of his last appearances in the MGM Technicolor musical Anchors Aweigh (1945) with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. He died the same year of a heart attack[1] in San Diego. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Selected filmographyEdit

Henry Armetta with Bobby Breen in Let's Sing Again (1936)


  1. ^ "Toronto Daily Star - Google News Archive Search".

External linksEdit