WALLACE BEERY


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Wallace Beery was a major MGM star from the 1910s to the 1940s. He was born in 1885, and in 1902, at the age of 16, he joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an elephant trainer's assistant, but he left two years later, after he was clawed by a leopard. He went to New York, where he became a leading man in musicals, both on Broadway and in traveling companies. In 1913, he went to Hollywood and got his big break the following year in a bizarre way. He was the lead actor in a series of "Sweedie" comedies, about a hulking Swedish maid, and Beery dressed as a woman to play the part! Young Gloria Swanson appeared in one of those comedies, and Beery swept her off her feet and married her the following year, and they had one of the most famous unhappy marriages, divorcing 3 years later. Beery started playing hulking villains, including in many famous adventure films such as "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", and "The Sea Hawk", and he was King Richard in the silent "Robin Hood". In 1926, he returned to comedy, including many with Raymond Hatton. He seemed washed up when sound came in, even though he had an interesting speaking voice. MGM's Irving Thalberg signed him to a contract, and he had his greatest success in the very early 1930s, including in "The Big House" (where he was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award), "Min and Bill", "The Champ" (where he won the Best Actor Academy Award), and "Treasure Island" (where he played Long John Silver). He had successful romantic comedies with Marie Dressler (including "Min and Bill"), but she passed away in 1934. In the 1940s, he had another series of comedies with Marjorie Main. He continued working all the way until he passed away in 194 at the age of 64. He sure packed a lot of living into those 64 years! His brother was Noah Beery Sr., a successful silent actor, and his nephew was Noah Beery Jr.
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