Edward Norris

Active - 1933 - 1955  |   Born - May 10, 1910   |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Mystery, Western, Comedy

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Despite his small-town charm and white-bread handsomeness, there was a queasy quality in the performances of American actor Edward Norris that suggested a basic inner weakness. As such, he was ideally cast as the average Joe accused of a crime he didn't commit, or as the outwardly helpful chap who turned out to be the calculating murderer in the last reel. A former reporter, Norris began making films in the early '30s. He did everything from Our Gang comedies (Teacher's Beau [1935]) to Garbo features (Queen Christina [1933]). His most conspicuous "innocent victim" role was as the schoolteacher falsely convicted of murdering high school student Lana Turner in They Won't Forget (1937). Norris' mockery of a trial and subsequent lynching were patterned after the real-life fate of Leo Frank; that 1915 lynching was obviously fueled by anti-Semitism, but Warners hedged its bets by casting the aggressively Anglo-Saxon Norris as the Leo Frank counterpart. Offscreen, Norris was as self-assured as his screen characters were put-upon; he was married five times, and three of his wives (Lona Andre, Ann Sheridan and Sheila Ryan) were Hollywood co-workers. Edward Norris quit movies cold in 1955 to become a businessman, never looking backward at his long career nor harboring any regrets at abandoning it.

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