What a pain today is! Last year, I did Norman Lear, who has made it through another year to the age of 92. But I didn’t even mention Bobbie Gentry last year. I would definitely write about her today, but two weeks ago, I wrote, What Matters in “Ode to Billie Joe.” In it I wrote as much about her as I’m afraid I have in me.
On this day in 1916, Keenan Wynn was born. He was one of my favorite character actors. His father was arguably more famous than he was: Ed Wynn—a vaudeville comedian who then became very popular in radio and films; if you watch old comedies, you know him. The son’s full name was Francis Xavier Aloysius James Jeremiah Keenan Wynn—you can see why he shortened it.
Because of his father’s fame, Wynn did not live the most exciting of lives. There are no great stories of his rise to fame. He got work. He was good so he continued to get work. I do think it is notable that his first wife left him for Van Johnson. Kind of. It appears their relationship was crumbling, so the studio got her to marry Johnson to put an end to rumors that Johnson was gay. Of course, Johnson was gay, although they did manage a child (but who knows). You see how it is with Keenan Wynn? There was always a lot more around his life than in it.
Wynn started on Broadway where he worked from the mid-1930s through the beginning of the 1940s. Then he worked in films, doing bit parts into the mid-1950s. From that point on, he did mostly television, but still a fair amount of feature film work, most notably Dr Strangelove and a number of those Disney live action films that I loved as a kid but am now afraid to revisit because they were probably terrible. In the end, IMDb has him listing as being in 278 films and television series, and that doesn’t include 25 episodes of Troubleshooters, 9 episodes of Dallas, and 22 episodes of Call to Glory.
Happy birthday Keenan Wynn!