Would you believe the man pictured above received top billing over such stars as Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor and Anne Baxter?
A few weeks ago we ran pictures of three brothers of famous stars of Hollywood’s Golden era. Most of you recognized Ralph Morgan, the older brother of Frank, and Noah Beery, the older brother of Wallace.
Wallace Beery was by far the biggest character actor star ever produced by Hollywood. He made over 250 films in a career that spanned over 35 years.
He had run away from home at 16 to join the circus, then followed his older brothers to New York to be an actor on Broadway. Beery was one of the first people to recognize the importance of the “flickers” and quickly turned his attention to the new medium.
By 1915 he was starring in his own series of films and played opposite the girl who’d become his first wife, Gloria Swanson. It was a short lived marriage. She accused him of heavy drinking and abuse.
Beery made an easy transition to sound films and won the Oscar for 1931’s The Champ. He was one of the top paid stars in Hollywood, insisting in his contract with MGM that he earn $1 more than anyone else.
One of his most famous roles was as Pancho Villa in 1934’s Viva Villa. A little known fact is that Beery had portrayed the Mexican revolutionary hero in the 1917 silent, Patria, when Villa was still alive.
Although he was never a top star Noah Beery had a substantial career and appeared in many of Wallace’s films. Noah’s most famous film is Mae West‘s classic She Done Him Wrong.
His son Noah Beery Jr. also appeared in films with uncle Wally. But Noah Jr. is best remembered for his work in Westerns (Red River) and on television. He was James Garner‘s dad, Rocky, on The Rockford Files.