Eddie Quillan

Active - 1928 - 1985  |   Born - Mar 31, 1907   |   Died - Jul 19, 1990   |   Genres - Comedy, Musical, Drama, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Eddie Quillan made his performing debut at age seven in his family's vaudeville act. By the time he was in his teens, Quillan was a consummate performer, adept at singing, dancing, and joke-spinning. He made his first film, Up and At 'Em, in 1922, but it wasn't until 1925, when he appeared in Los Angeles with his siblings in an act called "The Rising Generation," that he began his starring movie career with Mack Sennett. At first, Sennett tried to turn Quillan into a new Harry Langdon, but eventually the slight, pop-eyed, ever-grinning Quillan established himself in breezy "collegiate" roles. Leaving Sennett over a dispute concerning risqué material, Quillan made his first major feature-film appearance when he co-starred in Cecil B. DeMille's The Godless Girl (1929). This led to a contract at Pathé studios, where Quillan starred in such ebullient vehicles as The Sophomore (1929), Noisy Neighbors (1929), Big Money (1930), and The Tip-Off (1931). He remained a favorite in large and small roles throughout the 1930s and 1940s; he faltered only when he was miscast as master sleuth Ellery Queen in The Spanish Cape Mystery (1936). Among Quillan's more memorable credits as a supporting actor were Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and Abbott and Costello's It Ain't Hay (1943). From 1948 through 1956, Quillan co-starred with Wally Vernon in a series of 16 two-reel comedies, which showed to excellent advantage the physical dexterity of both men. Quillan remained active into the 1980s on TV; from 1968 through 1971, he was a regular on the Diahann Carroll sitcom Julia. In his retirement years, Eddie Quillan became a pet interview subject for film historians thanks to his ingratiating personality and uncanny total recall.

Movie Highlights

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