Stuart Erwin



  • Birth Name: Stuart Phillip Erwin
  • Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)


Stuart Erwin was an American actor, often working as a voice actor in radio and animation. He was once nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Erwin was born in Squaw Valley, Fresno County, California, in 1903. Squaw Valley is a census-designated place, the location of a post office which has operated on-and-off since 1879. It is located 30 miles (48 kilometers) to the east of the county seat: Fresno. Despite their similarity n names, it has no connection to the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, which is located in Placer County, California. Erwin attended school at Porterville High School, located in Porterville, California. Porterville was at the time a local center for the mining industry, primarily known for the extraction of magnetite from nearby mines. Erwin latter attended the University of California. He started performing on stage as an actor while still a college student. During the 1920s, Erwin mainly appeared on repertory theatre in Los Angeles. In 1928, Erwin made his film debut in the biographical film “Mother Knows Best”. The film was largely based on the life of actress and singer Elsie Janis (1889-1956), and depicted her relationship with the stage mother who managed her career since childhood. The film was mainly notable as the first “talkie” (sound film) produced by the film studio Fox Film (1915-1935), using the Movietone sound system. Erwin regularly appeared in theatrical films during the late 1920s and early 1930s, but was infrequently cast on major roles. His first memorable role was that of oil-industry businessman and radio-station owner Leslie McWhinney in the musical comedy “The Big Broadcast” (1932). In the film, McWhinney is both the employer and a close friend to singer Bing Crosby (1903-1977). The film was Crosby’s first starring role as an actor, and he depicted a fictionalized version of himself. Erwin gained a starring role in the comedy film “Palooka” (1934), an adaptation of the popular comic strip “Joe Palooka” (1930-1984) by cartoonist Ham Fisher (1900-1955). Erwin was cast in the role of Joe Palooka himself. Palooka was depicted as a professional boxer, but with a kind heart, a hero’s instinct to protect others, and rather limited intelligence. In the film, the role of the middle-aged Knobby Walsh, Palooka’s Irish-born manager and the mastermind behind his rise to fame, was played by Jimmy Durante (1893-1980). In 1936, Erwin had another starring role, as hillbilly Amos Dodd in the comedy “Pigskin Parade”. In the film, Amos is an uneducated farmer from Arkansas, but has an amazing talent for American football. So he gets recruited as a college football player by a Texas-based university. The role met with critical praise, and Erwin was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. However, the Award for that year was won by rival actor Walter Brennan (1894-1974). In radio, Erwin had a recurring role in “Phone Again Finnegan” (1946), and played multiple roles in the anthology series “Lux Radio Theatre” (1934-1955), “Cavalcade of America” (1935-1953), and “The United States Steel Hour” (1943-1953). From 1950 to 1955, Erwin starred in the television sitcom “The Stu Erwin Show”. The series lasted for a total of 130 episodes, and cast Erwin in the role of a high-school principal who has to to also raise his own children. After the sitcom’s end, Erwin frequently appeared as a guest star in other television series. In 1963, Erwin played the role of football coach Wilson in the science-fiction comedy film “Son of Flubber”, The film was a commercial success, earning about 22 million dollars at the North American box office. It was the 7th most commercially successful film of 1963, being outperformed by “Cleopatra” (1st), “How the West Was Won” (2nd), “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (3rd), ‘Tom Jones” (4th), “Irma la Douce” (5th), and “The Sword in the Stone” (6th). “Son of Flubber” itself outperformed the horror film “The Birds” (8th), the spy film “Dr. No” (9th), and the drama film “The V.I.P.s” (10th). In 1964, Erwin played the role of police chief Loomis in another science-fiction comedy film, “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones”. This film earned only 4 million at the box office, but was considered successful enough to receive a sequel, called “The Monkey’s Uncle” (1965). Erwin was not asked to appear in the sequel. “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones” was Erwin’s last film role. From 1965 to 1967, Erwin was limited to playing guest star roles in various television series, such as “Gunsmoke”, “Bonanza”, and “Lassie”. In December 1967, Erwin suffered a myocardial infarction (“heart attack”) and died in Beverly Hills. He was 64-years-old. He was survived by his wife June Collyer (1906-1968), who died due to pneumonia in March 1968. The bodies of both Erwin and Collyer were cremated. Their ashes were interred at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory, in Los Angeles.