Reginald Gardiner (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 08, 2022

The fact that his home is his wardrobe trunk couples neatly with the information that Reginald Gardiner delighted in boyhood in trying on old clothes that he unearthed in the attic.

Now, under contract to appear in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer pictures, Gardiner is an actor by instinct and choice. He was born in Wimbledon, England, on January 27, the son of Robert Edward Gardiner, an actuary. He was educated at Shrewsbury School in Shropshire, where he excelled in Latin, Greek, theology and history, without neglecting athletics.

Intent on affairs of the theater, the young student nevertheless went to the Architectural Association of London to perfect himself for a career in that profession. But he saw an opportunity to get a part in a British picture, “The Perfect Lady,” with Betty Ames, and seized it promptly. Architecture still interests him, but only to draw the plans for the home he hopes to build in Hollywood.

Until 1935 Gardiner was unknown in the United States. Beatrice Lillie, famous British comedienne, brought him to New York to appear with her in a musical revue. He became a celebrity in this country as well as in England, where he was well-known for ten years as a cabaret entertainer and musical comedy star.

Sought Career in U.S.

Following his first picture, Gardiner went to Paris, then traveled around the Continent for a time and eventually came to the United States. He was definitely determined to seek a career in American pictures.

In Hollywood he found his initial opportunity with M-G-M, in “Born to Dance,” starring Eleanor Powell. Next he was assigned a role in “Molly, Bless You,” from the novel by Frances Marion, dedicated to the late Marie Dressier, with Wallace Beery and Sophie Tucker as stars.

Gardiner is five feet ten inches in height, has dark brown hair and eyes, and weighs 150 pounds. He clings to his British mannerisms without effort. Actually an athlete and extremely active, Gardiner likes to scoff at the strenuous life, with tolerant humor.

“I never recreate,” he said. “My favorite exercise is caviar on crisp crackers.”

Honored by the Legion

Gardiner is the only Englishman who belongs to the American Legion. A New York Post awarded him an honorary membership when he contributed his services for an Armistice Day celebration.

He can be considered an Eleanor Powell discovery as far as his screen career is concerned, for it was the dancer who brought him to the attention of M-G-M officials, who signed him for the role of the mad musical policeman in last year’s “Broadway Melody.” They worked together in Miss Powell’s last Broadway show, “At Home Abroad.”

Great Pantomimist

The young Englishman is considered by critics to be the greatest pantomime artist of his time. One of his best known acts is his train number, in which he imitates trains and tells how they affect him. He first broadcast this routine over B.B.C., the English radio set-up. It was heard by the present King George VI of England, who ordered a command performance. Because he was on his way to Hollywood by the time the word reached him, he was unable to comply with the King’s wishes.

He also does imitations of wallpaper and about everything else under the sun, animated and otherwise.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937