So how much did you remember about our man of the week, Charles Winninger?
In answer to our second Quiz question (which for some reason was rendered in enlarged type in yesterday’s blog; see below) Winninger and Judy Garland (pictured above) really did have something in common. Both were fascinated in their own ways by performers born offstage in trunks.
Garland, of course, sang memorably in 1954’s A Star Is Born about having been born in a trunk “in the Princess Theater in Pacatello, Idaho…” Well, Winninger ‘s interest was a bit more personal since he actually was born in a trunk — to a touring vaudeville family making a stop in Athens, Wisconsin.
His 45-year career took him from vaudeville to Broadway (as revered Cap’n Andy in Showboat) to silent movies, then “talking pictures,” radio and television (notably the I Love Lucy series). He often performed with his wife, Blanche Ring, but not together in the movies. (The couple, married in 1912, divorced nearly 40 years later. Winninger then married his second wife, actress-screenwriter Gertrude Walker, whom he met in a 1932 stage revival of Showboat.)
Ok, let’s get to the answers to our Charles Winninger Quiz. As usual, to review questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: Winninger made a career of supporting parts playing wayward dads, amiable drunks and various commonsensical types, but he did topline one interesting picture — (d) 1953’s The Sun Shines Bright. It was directed by John Ford, who personally regarded it as among his best. Winninger won plaudits for his portrayal of a small town Kentucky judge. And, he was the star of the picture. (Stepin Fetchit turns up in a supporting role.)
2) Answer: See introduction above.
3) Answer: b) False. Winninger played Cap’n Andy on stage and on radio. But not on television.
4) Answer: Actually this could be both true and false. As indicated above, Winninger’s first marriage to Blanch Ring last near 40 years during which the couple appeared together professionally onstage and in vaudeville. Nonetheless their marriage was finally unsuccessful — they divorced in 1951.
5) Answer: Winninger played (c) an ex-vaudevillian on a 1954 episode of the I Love Lucy series, partnering with series regular William Frawley (who played Fred Mertz) — like Winninger an ex-vaudevillian.