Friday, July 24, 2009

Another unfortunate name

In looking for somebody to write a birthday post about, I noticed that today marks the birth anniversary of Edward R. Robinson. No, not the guy who played gangsters in movies like Little Caesar and Key Largo. That's Edward G Robinson. For obvious reasons, studios didn't want there to be people with names that were easily confused with one another, which would necessitate the use of the middle initial.

As for Edward R. Robinson, he was a set decorator in the 1940s and early 1950s, who started off getting credited as E.R. Robinson, presumably so that nobody would see an Edward Robinson and wonder what was going on. Indeed, in later movies, the set decorator went under the name Ray Robinson -- thankfully, boxer Sugar Ray Robinson wasn't too involved with movies. On the other hand, Edward R. did have one thing going for him that Edward G. didn't: an Oscar nomination, for his work in the 1942 movie The Spoilers. (Amazingly, Edward G., despite all his great screen performances, never received a competitive acting nomination.)

That having been said, this is also another way of saying that it's not just the actors who made the movies of the day what they were. It took a whole lot of people, a lot of whom are largely forgotten since they never appeared on screen or received any screen credits. Once in a rare while, TCM will have a night of movies honoring such a person, but it's usually directors, followed by writers, who get the TCM treatment.

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