Johnny Arthur

Active - 1923 - 1981  |   Born - May 10, 1883   |   Died - Dec 31, 1951   |   Genres - Comedy, Musical, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Prissy, trimly mustached comic actor Johnny Arthur was a veteran of 25 years on stage before he entered films in 1923 as a utility player. His screen personality was nebulous enough to allow him to play the romantic lead in the 1925 Lon Chaney vehicle The Monster. At the Al Christie studio, Arthur established himself as a star comedian in a series of slapstick two-reelers. With the coming of talkies, Arthur began specializing in comic "nance" types -- limp-wristed, whiny-voiced homosexual stereotypes. His largest role along these stereotypical lines was as reporter Benny Kidd in the first movie-version of The Desert Song (1929). Once the Production Code was established in 1933, the "pansy" characters played by Arthur were banned from the screen. He spent the rest of the 1930s playing fussy, long-suffering wimps, albeit certifiably "masculine"; he is best-remembered for his appearances as Darla Hood's mealy-mouthed father in Hal Roach's Our Gang series. Most of Arthur's later roles were unbilled bits, with the notable exception of the 1942 Republic serial The Masked Marvel, in which he hissed and slithered his way through the role of Japanese villain Sakima. Unable to find film work in the last years of his life, Johnny Arthur died at the age of 68 at the Motion Picture Country Home.

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