Eric Blore

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A prolific British actor who achieved Hollywood success from the 20s through to the 50s.
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b. 23 December 1887, London, England, d. 2 March 1959, Hollywood, California, USA. Blore took to the stage in England and Australia and appeared in a British short film, A Night Out And A Day In (1920). Moving to the USA in the early 20s, he proved to be Broadway’s and Hollywood’s idea of the perfect English manservant. A skilled comic actor, Blore developed many opportunities to give memorable performances in minor roles. In good films, such as those made supporting Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, he added lustre; in poor films, he is often the only reason for seeing them today. Among his early films are a silent The Great Gatsby (1926), and talkies such as Laughter (1930) and Tarnished Lady (1931). His first appearance with Astaire and Rogers was in Flying Down To Rio (1933), quickly followed by The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935) and Swing Time (1936). In between, Blore was in Diamond Jim (1935), a 1890s-set story of Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell. In 1937, Blore was in the Astaire-Rogers Shall We Dance. Other late 30s films were Quality Street (1937), Swiss Miss (1938), a musical starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and Island Of Lost Men (1939), a gloomy melodrama.

In the early 40s Blore began a continuing role in the popular series of Lone Wolf capers. The first in which he appeared as Jamison the valet was The Lone Wolf Strikes (1940); he was in 10 more in the series, giving a notable performance in Passport To Suez (1943), ending with The Lone Wolf In London (1947). Blore’s involvement with this series had not precluded him from appearing in other films and in 1941 alone he was in Bing Crosby and Bob Hope’s Road To Zanzibar, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels and The Shanghai Gesture. This mixture of comedies and serious dramas continued with The Moon And Sixpence (1942), Forever And A Day (1943, a star-packed fund-raiser for the British war effort), Holy Matrimony (1943), San Diego, I Love You (1944), Kitty (1945), Abie’s Irish Rose (1946, an unsuccessful second attempt to transfer a Broadway success to the screen), Romance On The High Seas (1948, which was Doris Day’s film debut), the Marx Brothers’ Love Happy (1949), Fancy Pants (1950, starring Hope and Lucille Ball), and Bowery To Bagdad (1955).