Monday, September 20, 2010

Pert Kelton (1907 - 1968)

I was thinking about Pert Kelton over the weekend.  I have no idea why.  I guess her name is so distinctive, it just came to mind.

Kelton was a vaudevillian and Broadway star.  She started in movies in 1929 in Sally with Joe E. Brown (1892 - 1973) which was also his first movie.

In 1933 she appeared as a dance hall singer in The Bowery with Wallace Beery (1885 - 1949), George Raft (1901 - 1980), Jackie Cooper (b. 1922) and Fay Wray (1907 - 2004). 

Cain and Mabel (1936) with Marion Davies (1897 - 1961) and Clark Gable (1901 - 1960).  Also that year she was in Pan Handlers with Patsy Kelly (1910 - 1981) and Rosina Lawrence, who I have already written about.  She was an inmate in You Can't Take it With You in 1938, but you have to watch closely.  That movie had a load of people in it. 

She stopped making movies in 1939 and didn't start again until 1962.  Starting in 1951 she found some roles on TV.  She was the original Alice Kramden in "The Honeymooners" when it was still a skit on Jackie Gleason's show, "Cavalcade of Stars."  She was passed over to bring that role to the series, apparently because she was blacklisted.

Her most famous role was as Mrs. Paroo in The Music Man (1962).  She played that part on Broadway starting in 1957, and then brought it to the screen.  My guess is that being born in Great Falls, Montana helped her acquire her Irish brogue.  ;-)

After that, she only made two more films, one with Jerry Van Dyke (b. 1931) and one with his brother, Dick Van Dyke (b. 1925).  Plus she did a bit more TV. 

Pert Kelton...a great name for a great actress.  She was a good looker in the early days!

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