Monday, November 17, 2014


Character actor Eddie Bracken was one of the true gems in classic Hollywood cinema. Every movie role he ever had I loved. Here is his obituary from November 16, 2002 from The New York Times...

Eddie Bracken, a character actor whose portrayals of bewildered and long-suffering comic heroes crowned a stage, screen and television career of more than 70 years, died Thursday in Montclair, N.J. He was 87 and lived in Glen Ridge, N.J.

Mr. Bracken made his first major screen splash in 1940's comedies by Preston Sturges, and he remained active until recently. Besides appearances in various television series, he was most widely seen as Mr. Wally, the proprietor of the Disneyland-like Wally World in ''National Lampoon's Vacation'' (1983) and as E. F. Duncan, the proprietor of a large Manhattan toy store in ''Home Alone 2: Lost in New York'' (1992).
Mr. Bracken, who grew up in Astoria, Queens, began as a child actor in the 1920's, but he did not really come into his own until the early 1940's when he made several light comedies in Hollywood, including ''Caught in the Draft'' with Bob Hope in 1941 and ''Sweater Girl'' with June Preisser that same year. Years later, John Corry, writing in The New York Times, called him ''the embodiment of the warm, vulnerable young American.''

Perhaps his strongest roles in that era were in two stand-out Sturges films of 1944, ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' with Betty Hutton and ''Hail the Conquering Hero.'' In ''Hero,'' Sturges cast him as a young man rejected by the Marines because of his hay fever, but who, through confusion and misunderstanding, is welcomed back to his home town as a war hero. It was the kind of situation that had been exploited so effectively in the silent film era by Harold Lloyd, a comedian Mr. Bracken greatly admired.

In the decades ahead, Mr. Bracken continued acting onstage and in the movies and moved into television as well, appearing in several shows, most notably ''Masquerade Party'' on NBC in the 1950's. He also headed his own production company and invested in an electronics company in Chicago and in Downey's, long a popular steak house in Manhattan's theater district. Not all of his investments panned out. In the early 1970's he tried to create a circuit of winter and summer stock theaters, but the plan foundered.

In the 1950's he was Tom Ewell's replacement in the road show version of ''The Seven Year Itch''; in the 1960's he took Art Carney's role in ''The Odd Couple.'' In the 1970's he joined Carol Channing on tour in ''Hello, Dolly!'' and in the 1980's he played the devil (Mr. Applegate), the role Ray Walston had made famous in ''Damn Yankees.

Mr. Bracken was married for 63 years to Connie Nickerson, an actress he met when they were in the same road company. She died in August. He is survived by their children, Judy, Carolyn, Michael, Susan and David, and by nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren...


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