So how much did you know about Edward G. Robinson, a man with his share of personal offscreen travails?
Did you know he had a son from his troubled first marriage who went on to write a “Mommie Dearest”-style book about his father? (See 1958’s My Father — My Son by Edward G. Robinson Jr.)
The inspiration for this week’s Monday Quiz is Robinson Sr.’ 1973 autobiography, All My Yesterdays, coauthored by Leonard Spigelgass. In that book, published the same year of Robinson’s death, the actor’s troubles with both his first marriage and his only offspring, are directly addressed. A good read.
Ok, let’s get to our Quiz answers. To review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: The “G.” in Robinson’s name stands for his real surname. Emanuel Goldenberg was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1893.
2) Answer: This is a bit of a trick question. As Robinson wrote, The truth is that I never snarled and said ‘Nyaaah’ in any picture. It was all an invention of his many mimics.
3) Answer: d) Recalled Robinson: I made a picture called ‘The Stranger’ for R.K.O., directed by Orson Welles (who also was Robinson’s costar). Orson has genius, but in this film it seemed to have run out. It was bloodless, and so was I. We respectfully disagree; we screened The Stranger recently, and found it most enjoyable.
4) Answer: b) False. Robinson, hardly a serial monogamist, was married two times. As mentioned, his first marriage to Gladys Lloyd was troubled but nonetheless lasted 29 years. Robinson was married from 1958 until his death to second wife, Jane, to whom he dedicated his memoirs.
5) Answer: b) False. Director John Huston wrote that Robinson at first was reluctant to join the cast of Key Largo in the role of gangster “Johnny Rocco.” Truth is that Robinson didn’t much like playing criminals, although he was great at it. In Key Largo he created one of the nastiest mobsters in movie history.
6) Answer: d) Robinson much admired his The Cincinnati Kid costar, Steve McQueen. He comes out of the tradition of Gable, Bogie and Cagney, and even me — but he’s added his own dimension. Nice words and good company.
7) Answer: c) The Red House. In this 1947 mystery drama, directed by Delmer Daves, Robinson plays an old man with secrets about that remote farmhouse in the woods. This picture is worth seeking out.
8) Answer: As mentioned above, the answer is d) Romania.
9) Answer: This may come as a surprise, but Robinson first established himself as a convincing player of gangsters in a stage play, not in a movie. In the late Twenties, he starred in a drama titled The Racket playing a Chicago-style gangster. The play was a huge hit, and was taken to Los Angeles where studio scouts first saw him. Boy, did that play change my life, Robinson wrote.
10) Answer: b) False. Robinson was at first put off that he was being asked to play the third lead in director Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, but decided that it was time to begin thinking of character roles. The picture turned out to be one of Robinson’s personal “favorite films.”