b. Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck, 19 November 1889, Beech Gove, Indiana, USA, d. 13 October 1966, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. Appearing on the stage from early childhood, Webb also studied art and music and at age 17 was with the Boston Opera Company. He then became a professional ballroom dancer and was often to be seen on Broadway and in London playing in musical shows and in dramas. He also made some silent film appearances. Among his more important Broadway shows were Sunny (1925), with Marilyn Miller, and Treasure Girl (1928), in which he sang George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin’s ‘I’ve Got A Crush On You’, a song that was to become a standard. Another soon-to-be standard was Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s ‘I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan’, which Webb sang in The Little Show (1929). He was also in Irving Berlin’s As Thousands Cheer (1933).
Webb’s early film work was mainly forgettable, but after several years away from Hollywood he returned to play striking character roles in films such as Laura (1944, as Waldo Lydecker), for which he was nominated for an Oscar, The Dark Corner, The Razor’s Edge (both 1946), the latter also bringing him an Oscar nomination, and Sitting Pretty (1948), in which he played Mr. Belvedere, the baby sitter, with such panache that two sequels followed, Mr. Belvedere Goes To College (1949) and Mr. Belvedere Rings The Bell (1951). He played the role of John Philip Sousa in Stars And Stripes Forever (1952), while other films of the 50s included Titanic (1953), Three Coins In The Fountain (1954), The Man Who Never Was (1956), Boy On A Dolphin (1957) and The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959). His final film role was in Satan Never Sleeps (1962).