Robert Benchley (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 08, 2022

Author, playwright, actor, columnist, critic and commentator, Robert Benchley is one of life’s little oddities. But then, it takes all kinds of people to make up a world.

He has a sense of humor that makes him see the funny side of everything—or nearly everything—and the gift of translating his own amusement to printed or spoken words. The result is always refreshing, often hilarious.

He was born in Worcester, Mass., on September 15, went through the public schools without much trouble, and even managed to graduate from Harvard in 1912 with an A. B.

After two years in the advertising department of the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, he persuaded Gertrude Darling of Worcester, to become his wife on June 6, 1914. They have two sons.

Editor in New York

After a year of industrial personnel work in Boston, Benchley became an associate editor of the New York Tribune Sunday magazine, and then editor of the New York Tribune Graphic.

During the last year of the war, he was drafted to become secretary to the Aircraft Board in Washington. Then Vanity Fair made him its managing editor, and afterward he conducted a column on books and other things for the New York World.

From 1920 to 1929 he was dramatic editor of Life, and then The New Yorker grabbed him as theatrical critic.

Played in “China Seas”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios added him to its roster and he made a hit with Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and Wallace Beery in China Seas. His contract calls for his services as writer, director and actor, and in various of those capacities he has appeared in a series of short subjects, namely, “How to Sleep,” which won the 1935 Academy Award for novelty short subjects; “How to Train a Dog” and “How to Behave.”

In the spring of 1936, he entered upon the making of a new series of shorts and appeared in “How to be a Detective.”

Following completion of the new series of one-reel subjects Benchley scored another success in a feature length attraction when he appeared with Robert Montgomery and Madge Evans in “Piccadilly Jim.”

Returning to New York to fulfill his six months’ magazine writing assignment, the demand for his unusual type of short subjects proved so great that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer induced him to appear in two additional pictures, both of which were made in the East.

The first was “How to Pay Your Income Tax,” a new slant on the great annual American pastime, and the second was “Romance of Indigestion.” Both were 1937 releases.

Busiest Man In Pictures

Robert Benchley is considered one of the busiest figures in the picture industry. He is dramatic editor of the New Yorker, writes a daily syndicated column, prepares, enacts and maintains a running commentary for his own pictures, writes novels, articles and plays and takes big parts in pictures other than his own.

Spending six months in New York and six months in Hollywood, he must maintain contact with both of his major jobs while working at outside assignments.

In addition to making his miniatures, he is in demand as an actor in feature length productions.

The studio is planning a new series for the comment-actor. His most recent feature roles in full length production were Broadway Melody of 1938 and “Live, Love and Learn.”

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