It seems to us that given his long and extensive career — more than 100 movie and tv credits spanning almost 45 years (from silent movies to Sixties tv) — Jack Oakie should be better known than he is today. (That’s our man above with RKO’s budding star, Lucille Ball.)
Perhaps today’s Quiz will help our cause. Oakie is described as a rotund, plump faced comedian was a first rate second banana dubbed at his peak “America’s Joyboy.” Little did many know that he labored through a lifelong handicap that would have easily sidelined many other actors.
Oakie’s movie career began in the waning days of silent pictures; among other titles, he costarred as a svelte sailor in pursuit of Clara Bow in 1928’s The Fleet’s In. As he put on the pounds in the Thirties, he became typecast as a supporting player in musicals, comedies and adventure outings. One of the latter was 1935’s Call of the Wild, memorable if only because the affair of its costars, Clark Gable and Loretta Young produced an out of wedlock daughter.
Oakie made his biggest mark in the late Thirties and Forties playing a rich variety of characters from sleazy pressagents to righteous proletarians to tinpot dictators to zany college freshmen. He died in 1978, at the age of 74.
Ok, let’s see how much you known about this fine comedian-actor. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: As mentioned above, Oakie successfully labored through a serious physical handicap to achieve what he did. What was this handicap? a) He was blind in one eye; b) He was deaf; c) He suffered from constant acid reflux; or d) He had a speech impairment.
2) Question: Before Lucille Ball became Lucie on tv’s I Love Lucy, she played opposite Oakie in a pair of RKO comedies. Name the pictures, and tell us what was her role and what was his?
3) Question: Oakie’s most famous role, in Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 comedy The Great Dictator, earned him a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for his spoof which one of the following dictators? a) Adolph Hitler; b) Joseph Stalin; c) Benito Mussolini; or d) Hideki Tojo.
4) Question: In director Jules Dassin’s excellent film noir, 1949’s Thieves’ Highway, Oakie actually plays a character by the name of “slob.” a) True; or b) False.
5) Question: In the Thirties, Oakey appeared onscreen in various college comedy settings. Which one of the following titles did he NOT appear in? a) 1933’s College Humor; b) 1934’s College Rhythm; c) 1936’s Collegiate; or d) Jack Oakie’s College.