Leon Errol

Active - 1924 - 1951  |   Born - Jul 3, 1881   |   Died - Oct 12, 1951   |   Genres - Comedy, Musical

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Australian-born comedian Leon Errol studied for a medical career at Sydney University, but was sidetracked by acting in and writing varsity variety shows. Touring Australia and New Zealand as everything from a circus performer to a Shakespearean actor, Errol emigrated to the U.S. in 1905. He fronted a burlesque troupe, then was hired by Flo Ziegfeld for the 1911 edition of The Ziegfeld Follies. Remaining with Ziegfeld throughout the 1920s, Errol developed into an astonishingly versatile performer; his most popular characterization was a rubber-legged society inebriate, while his most famous routine found him drunkenly attempting to mail a letter. In between his Broadway and London appearances, Errol made a handful of silent films, the best of which was the lavish costume farce Clothes Make the Pirate (1925). During the sound era, he alternated between leads and supporting roles in feature films, most memorably in the dual role of Uncle Matt and Lord Epping in the Mexican Spitfire series of 1939-1942. Errol's chief claim to fame in talkies lies in his lengthy series of RKO 2-reel comedies, in which he usually portrayed a henpecked husband, forever stepping out on his wife in search of a blonde or a bottle. In his last years, Errol maintained his short-subjects schedule, made a number of TV appearances, and co-starred as Knobby Walsh in Monogram's Joe Palooka series. Leon Errol was in the midst of negotiating a TV series when, at age 70, he suffered a fatal heart attack.

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