In his most lauded roles, Edward G. Robinson invariably plays a brainy plot solver who masterfully delivers exposition full of canny insights.
By his own account, Robinson was a reluctant movie actor. He was reared on and much preferred the New York stage where he cut his histrionic teeth. Even so, his Hollywood movie career covering nearly 60 years and more than 100 titles was the product of personal ambition and, yes, greed.
Robinson lived the good life offscreen both intellectually and materially, and had to find a way to pay for it. No matter the medium, he took acting most seriously, as a life vocation.
We are the beneficiaries of his superb talent and hard work. Our inspiration for today’s quiz was Robinson’s most readable 1973 autobiography, All My Yesterdays, written with Leonard Spigelgass published the same year that the actor died at age 79.
Onward to our Edward G. Robinson Quiz; questions today, answers tomorrow.
1) Question: What did the “G.” stand for in Robinson’s full name? a) Geronimo, in honor of the American Indian; b) George, in honor of our country’s first president; c) Gregory, in honor of Grigori Rasputin; or d) Goldenberg, in honor of the actor’s actual surname.
2) Question: Robinson was famous for his portrayals of gangsters, and was much mimicked by imitators, who pretended to snarl and say “Nyaaah.” In what movie did the actor first do both? a) Key Largo; b) White Heat; c) Little Caesar or d) Scarface.
3) Question: Robinson was famously teamed with Orson Welles in the 1946 film noir, The Stranger. How did director-actor Welles and Robinson get along? a) Dismally, they fought constantly; b) Both admired each other’s work; c) They were indifferent to one another; or d) Robinson felt Welles had genius but it had run out on this film.
4) Question: Robinson was financially pressed for much of his career largely because of his multiple marriages. a) True; or b) False?
5) Question: John Huston, who directed the 1948 classic Key Largo, was surprised at how much Robinson enjoyed playing super sadistic gangster “Johnny Rocco” in the picture. a) True; or b) False?
6) Question: Perhaps Robinson’s most famous costar was Steve McQueen, with whom he made 1965’s The Cincinnati Kid. How did the two of them get along? a) Famously; b) Not well; c) Were mutually indifferent; or d) Robinson vastly admired the younger actor.
7) Question: Which one of the following titles is Robinson’s most underrated mystery drama? a) The Woman in the Window; b) House of Strangers; c) The Red House; or d) Confessions of a Nazi Spy.
8) Question: Robinson was an immigrant, who came to the United States as a boy from which one of the following? a) Russia; b) Austria; c) Germany or d) Romania.
9) Question: What movie first typecast Robinson as a criminal?
10) Question: When Robinson was offered the third lead (opposite Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray) in Billy Wilder’s 1944 film noir, Double Indemnity, he jumped at the chance to save a flagging career? a) True; or b) False.