Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lee Tracy, 1898-1968

Lee Tracy on the right in Dinner at Eight (1933)

Today marks the birth anniversary of Lee Tracy, whose career was picking up steam in the early 1930s until he derailed it, but more on that later. The early role for which you're most likely to remember him might be that of John Barrymore's agent in Dinner At Eight. He played another actor's agent, this time to Jean Harlow, in Bombshell. For something rathe different, you can look for him as the reporter investigating strange goings-on in the 1932 two-strip Technicolor horror film Doctor X.

As I mentioned back in May 2009, Lee Tracy pissed his career away, literally (sorry for the bad pun). While filming Viva Villa!, he got drunk in Mexico and celebrated by urinating off his hotel balcony. Unfortunately there were Mexican troops below, and this naturally caused a scandal. Tracy got some bit parts, and some slightly bigger roles in lousy B movies such as RKO's Millionaires in Prison. Fortunately, Tracy was to have a bit of a hurrah in his career thanks to TV and the stage, and wound up fininshing his movie career on a bit of a high as well, playing the dying president in The Best Man.

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