If you grew up in the Baby Boomer era, there is no excuse for not knowing about Fractured Fairy Tales or the Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. These characters ruled the air waves and became part of our culture from the late 1950s through the 1960s. The hilarious fractured fairy tales were narrated by Edward Everett Horton, whose birthday was on this day in 1886.
Edward was born in Brooklyn, New York at the end of the nineteenth century. It was the height of the Industrial Revolution. He was known to be quite a prankster when he was young. While attending college, he climbed to the top of a building and waited for a crowd to form. He then threw down a dummy. Everyone though he jumped off the building. I’m sure there were repercussions for that deed – probably involving a razor strop or stick. After attending college at Oberlin, he took to the stage – a good place to redirect some of his silliness.
When silent films came along, he took a crack at that and easily made the transition from voiceless movies to talking pictures. His stage work prepared him for that. He appeared in many movies over his career with stars like Kathryn Hepburn, Zazu Pitts and Rita Hayworth. He was in almost every comedy that came out in the 1930s, playing the fall guy for the hero. He developed his famous “triple take” during those years. (One more look back than a double take.) He also had a memorable voice, which led him to much voice over work, animated movies and commercials.
He loved making movies and never even thought about retirement. That happens to people involved in the arts. It’s kind of an addiction. When you truly love the work, it becomes part of your being.
I most remember this man for his part in the Adventures of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, whose sidekick was a moose named Bullwinkle. The plots were always comical and held lots of subtle humor. Characters like Boris Badinov and Natasha Fatale were the villains. Like most stories of that time – there was a definite difference in good and evil. Today you can’t always see that in the movies or on TV. Edward was the voice for many of these cartoon characters.
He died on September 29, 1970 a the age of 84 in his home in Encino, California, of Cancer. There is a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with his name on it. His notable voice will remembered for many years to come. At least for those of us who are still part of that generation.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EDWARD!