b. 4 February 1889, San Francisco, California, USA, d. 14 November 1960, Woodland Hills, California, USA. After working in vaudeville for several years as a comedian, Catlett appeared on Broadway, notably in Sally (1921), which starred Marilyn Miller. In the early 20s he began a long career as a comic actor in films, adapting readily to talkies. Among many 30s film appearances, several of them in musicals, he made The Floradora Girl (A Story Of The Gay Nineties) (1930, starring Marion Davies), Platinum Blonde (1931, with Jean Harlow), Big City Blues (1932, with Joan Blondell), Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936, with Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur), On The Avenue (1937, with Madeleine Carroll, Dick Powell, Alice Faye, and many Irving Berlin songs), Bringing Up Baby (1938, with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant), and Zaza (1939, with Claudette Colbert). Two 1942 films were musical biopics, My Gal Sal, about songwriter Paul Dresser, and Yankee Doodle Dandy, the story of George M. Cohan; and another biopic was 1949’s Look For The Silver Lining, the story of Marilyn Miller. Also in the 40s, Catlett was in two Danny Kaye vehicles, Up In Arms (1944) and The Inspector General (1949). He was in the frothy musicals Dancing In The Dark (1949, with William Powell and Betsy Drake), and Here Comes The Groom (1951, with Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman). Later in the 50s Catlett was in Friendly Persuasion (1956) and Beau James (1957). In addition to appearing on-screen, he also provided the voice for J. Worthingtom Foulfellow in Walt Disney’s animated feature, Pinocchio (1940). To very nearly all of his films, Catlett brought his perfected screen persona of an absent-minded blunderer.
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