George Sidney

Active - 1924 - 1986  |   Born - Mar 18, 1876   |   Died - Apr 1, 1945   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance

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A Hungarian-born dialect comedian whose signature character, Busy Izzy, was the typical language-mangling Jewish caricature, George Sidney (birth name: Samuel Greenfeld) came to the screen in Samuel Goldwyn's production of In Hollywood With Potash and Perlmutter (1924). Sidney played Abe Potash to Alexander Carr's Morris Perlmutter: the two were textile manufacturers turned movie producers fighting over screen femme fatale Betty Blythe. No doubt inspired by the 1922 Broadway success Abie's Irish Rose, Universal then cast Sidney opposite veteran slapstick comic Charlie Murray in The Cohens and the Kellys (1926). Popular with big city crowds, this ethnic farce became a long-running series that carried both Sidney and Murray into the sound era. For some reason, Sidney's Jewish shtick did not do nearly as well in talkies and apart from the increasingly tiresome Cohens and Kellys comedies (which were discontinued in 1933), he was reduced to supporting parts. Happily, one of these was a real gem: the increasingly harried would-be rubber baron Ginsburg in Warner Bros.' hilarious Depression spoof High Pressure (1932). Sidney's namesake, director George Sidney, was a nephew.

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