Saturday, June 25, 2011

His French Wife


“I’ve been thinking – it looks like the best play of the year is at East Hampton this week.  It stars Edward Everett Horton and is a comedy, naturally.”
                                                                 Art Price
                                                                 Letter to June Anderson, August 3, 1950

As planned, June and Art went to see His French Wife at the John Drew Theater in East Hampton on August 5.  Capitalizing on the availability of both New York talent and sophisticated summer audiences, the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall opened in 1931 and has remained a popular and important Hamptons cultural institution ever since.

Edward Everett Horton (1886-1970) was typical of the talent that Guild Hall could draw to a Hamptons theater during the summer months.  An accomplished character actor with a flair for comedy, Horton had a very distinctive voice and a dithering personality.  In movies, he provided notable support to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat and appeared in other popular movies such as Trouble in Paradise, Lost Horizon, and Arsenic and Old Lace.  Many may remember him as the narrator of the “Fractured Fairy Tale” segments that were a regular feature of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show in the 1960s.

In the playbill, Vicki Cummings receives equally prominent billing with Horton.  Cummings never hit true stardom, but she was a popular staple of television (much of which was filmed in New York City) in the late 1940s and early 50s.  From 1948 to 1950, she was regularly appeared on The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, as well as on episodes of Robert Montgomery Presents and The Ford Theatre Hour.

(For Monday – The next voice you hear.)

© 2011 Lee Price

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