Edward Arnold (actor)

Edward Arnold

Arnold on the radio show Three Thirds of the Nation, May 6, 1942
Born Gunther Edward Arnold Schneider
(1890-02-18)February 18, 1890
New York City, U.S.
Died April 26, 1956(1956-04-26) (aged 66)
Encino, California, U.S.
Cause of death cerebral hemorrhage
Occupation Actor
Years active 1907–56
Spouse(s) Harriet Marshall (1917–27) 3 children
Olive Emerson (1929–49)
Cleo McLain (1951–56) his death
Children Edward Arnold Jr. (1920-1996)
Jane Arnold
Elizabeth Arnold

Edward Arnold (February 18, 1890 April 26, 1956) was an American actor.

Personal life

Arnold was born as Gunther Edward Arnold Schneider on the Lower East Side of New York City, the son of German immigrants Elizabeth (Ohse) and Carl Schneider. His schooling came at the East Side Settlement House.[1]

Arnold was married three times: Harriet Marshall (1917–1927), with whom he had three children: Elizabeth, Jane and William (who had a short movie career as Edward Arnold, Jr.); Olive Emerson (1929–1948) and Cleo McLain (1951 until his death).

Acting career


Interested in acting since his youth (he made his first stage appearance at the age of 12 as Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice), Arnold made his professional stage debut in 1907. He found work as an extra for Essanay Studios and World Studios, before landing his first significant role in 1916's The Misleading Lady. In 1919, he left film for a return to the stage, and did not appear again in movies until he made his talkie debut in Okay America! (1932). He recreated one of his stage roles in one of his early films, Whistling in the Dark (1933). His role in the 1935 film Diamond Jim boosted him to stardom. He reprised the role of Diamond Jim Brady in the 1940 film Lillian Russell. He also played a similar role in The Toast of New York (1937), another fictionalized version of real-life business chicanery, for which he was billed above Cary Grant in the posters with his name in much larger letters.

Arnold (left) with J. Carrol Naish, from the trailer for Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

Arnold appeared in over 150 movies. Although he was labeled "box office poison" in 1938 by an exhibitor publication (he shared this dubious distinction with Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Fred Astaire and Katharine Hepburn), he never lacked for work. Rather than continue in leading man roles, he gave up losing weight and went after character parts instead. Arnold was quoted as saying, "The bigger I got, the better character roles I received." He was such a sought-after actor, he often worked on two pictures at the same time.

Arnold was an expert at playing rogues and authority figures, and superb at combining the two as powerful villains quietly pulling strings. He was best known for his roles in Come and Get It (1936), Sutter's Gold (1936), the aforementioned The Toast of New York (1937), You Can't Take It with You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), "Meet John Doe" (1941), and The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941). He was the first actor to portray Rex Stout's famous detective Nero Wolfe, starring in Meet Nero Wolfe (1936), the film based on the first novel in the series.

He played blind detective Duncan Maclain in two movies based on the novels by Baynard Kendrick, Eyes in the Night (1942) and The Hidden Eye (1945).


From 1947 to 1953, Arnold starred in the ABC radio program Mr. President. He also played a lawyer, "Mr. Reynolds," in The Charlotte Greenwood Show.[2] In 1953, he was host of Spotlight Story on Mutual.[3]


Arnold was host for Your Star Showcase, "a series of 52 half-hour television dramas ... released by Television Programs of America."[4] The series was launched January 1, 1954, to run in 1950 cities.[4] He also co-starred in "Ever Since the Day," an episode of Ford Theatre on NBC.[5]


Midwestern University awarded Arnold an honorary Doctor of Letters degree on May 24, 1951.[1] Arnold has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6225 Hollywood Blvd.[6]



Starting in the 1940s, Arnold became involved in Republican politics and was mentioned as a possible G.O.P. candidate for the United States Senate. He lost a closely contested election for Los Angeles County Supervisor and said at the time that perhaps actors were not suited to run for political office.


Arnold died at his home in Encino, California from a cerebral hemorrhage associated with atrial fibrillation, aged 66. He was interred in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.

Partial filmography

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1942 Philip Morris Playhouse The Maltese Falcon[7]


  1. 1 2 "Edward Arnold Is Often Called 'Mr. President' In Private Life". Denton Record-Chronicle. February 3, 1952. p. 14. Retrieved August 18, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  2. Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3.
  3. "MBS Sets Lineup for Program Plan" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 28, 1953. p. 73. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  4. 1 2 "Release of Film Series Costing $1.85 Million" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 14, 1953. p. 37. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  5. "Production" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 12, 1953. p. 41. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  6. "Edward Arnold". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  7. "Arnold Is Playhouse Guest Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. August 8, 1942. p. 25. Retrieved August 18, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
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