Reginald Denny

Active - 1919 - 1966  |   Born - Nov 20, 1891   |   Died - Jun 16, 1967   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama, Mystery, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The last in a long line of British actors, Reginald Denny left school at 16 to enter the family trade. His first important assignment was the role of Prince Danilo in a travelling company of The Merry Widow. He first came to the U.S. in a 1912 production of Quaker Girl, then returned to England to star in musical productions. After World War I service as a Lieutenant in the 112th squadron of the British Flying Corps, Denny appeared in several Broadway productions and made his film bow at the New Jersey-based world film studios. Hired on the basis of his finely tuned physiques, Denny starred in Universal's boxing short-subject series The Leather Pushers before being promoted to features. During the 1920s, Denny was one of Universal's most popular stars, headlining a series of frothy domestic comedies, most of which co-starred Laura LaPlante and were directed by William A. Seiter. In talkies, Denny's British accent made it difficult for him to continue in the "all-American" roles he'd been playing at Universal, but he continued to flourish as a character actor, showing up in everything from Romeo and Juliet (1936) to Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1937). He also played the "silly ass" second lead of Algy in several Bulldog Drummond "B" pictures. Since his World War I experience, Denny remained active in aviation; he was a pioneer in the field of radio-controlled aircraft. In fact, the U.S. Navy prototype radio aircraft TDD was named in his honor (the initials stood for Target Drone Denny). A busy actor on films and television into the 1960s, Reginald Denny returned to Broadway in 1958 to replace Robert Coote as Col. Pickering in My Fair Lady.

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