Robert Greig

Active - 1930 - 1949  |   Born - Dec 27, 1880   |   Died - Jun 22, 1958   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama, Musical

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

Endowed with a voice like a bellows and a face like a bullfrog, Australian actor Robert Greig specialized in pompous-servant roles. In Greig's first talking picture, the Marx Brothers' vehicle Animal Crackers (1930), he portrays Hives, Margaret Dumont's imperious butler; Hives dominates the film's opening scene by singing his instructions to the rest of the staff, and later participates in Groucho Marx' signature tune "Hooray for Captain Spaulding". Evidently the Marx Brothers liked his work, for in 1932 Greig was cast as an unflappable chemistry professor in Horse Feathers (1932). In most of his films, Greig played variations of Hives, notably in the wacked-out 1932 comedy short Jitters the Butler, in which he willingly offers his ample derriere to be kicked at the slightest provocation. In 1940, Greig became a member of the informal stock company of writer/producer Preston Sturges. Sturges brought out untapped comic possibilities in all of his favorite character actors; accordingly, Greig's performances in The Lady Eve (1941), Sullivan's Travels (1942) and The Palm Beach Story (1942) are among his best. Fans of Robert Greig's work with Sturges and the Marx Brothers are advised to catch his non-butler roles as the Duke of Weskit in Wheeler and Woolseys Cockeyed Cavaliers (1934) and as the wealthy, gross "protector" of Hedy Lamarr in Algiers (1938).

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography