There he is, in the role he’s best remembered for in Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon (seen above in drag as ‘Daphne’), Tony Curtis and, of course, Marilyn Monroe.
Brown plays Osgood Fielding III, a millionaire and genial roue who takes a shine to ‘Daphne” not realizing that she is, well, Jack Lemmon. Brown gets to enunciate the movie’s crisp closing line: ‘Well, nobody’s perfect.’
In 1935’s Alibi Ike, Brown at his peak of popularity gets to play a supremely gifted baseball pitcher from the sticks who gets the girl in the end. The script is dreadful but Brown’s antics and physical dexterity in the part are impressive. Most impressive is his leading lady, a very young Olivia de Havilland.
Ok, on to the answers to our Joe E. Brown Quiz:
1) Question: Joe E. Brown. What did the “E” stand for? a) Ernest; b) Evans; c) Edward; or d) Nothing. It was the phonetic version of “Joey.”
1) Answer: b) Evans.
2) Question: Which one of the following Brown costars in Alibi Ike went on to take a pr0minent role in an extraordinarily successful tv series. a) Buddy Ebsen; b) Forrest Tucker; c) Jim Backus; or d) William Frawley.
2) Answer: d) William Frawley. He plays the Chicago Cubs manager in Alibi Ike, and appeared in many other pictures. He is best known, however, for his characterization of Fred Mertz, the neighbor (along with Vivian Vance’s Ethel) of Lucy and Ricky on I love Lucy, the hugely successful CBS tv series (from 1951-57) starring, of course, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
3) Question: Brown may be best known for this 1959 comedy in which he portrayed a witty millionaire. Can you name the picture and it’s director? (Hint: do the initials MM mean anything to you?)
3) Answer: As stated above, the picture is Some Like It Hot.
4) Question: Which of the following actresses were NOT costars of Brown’s? a) June Travis; b) Thelma Todd; c) Joan Fontaine; or d) Olivia DeHavilland.
4) Answer: c) Joan Fontaine.
5) Question: Although known principally as a screen comedian, Brown won a special 1948 Tony Award for his work in a touring production of which one these stage productions? a) Where’s Charley; b) Mister Roberts; c) Harvey; or d) A Streetcar Named Desire.
5) Answer: c) Harvey, Mary Chase’s play about a man and his invisible friend resembling a six-foot-one-inch rabbit. Brown starred in a road version of the original Broadway edition. Of course, James Stewart played the part in the 1950 movie version.