Walter Catlett

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Walter Catlett
Born (1889-02-04)February 4, 1889
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Died November 14, 1960(1960-11-14) (aged 71)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death Stroke
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City
Occupation Actor
Years active 1906–1957
Spouse(s) Ruth Verney
Zanetta Watrous

Walter Catlett (February 4, 1889 – November 14, 1960) was an American actor. He made a career of playing excitable, officious blowhards.


Catlett was born in San Francisco, California. He started out in vaudeville, teaming up with Hobart Cavanaugh at some point,[1] with a detour for a while in opera, before breaking into acting.

He started on stage in 1906 and made his Broadway debut in either The Prince of Pilsen (1911)[2] or So Long Letty (1916).[3] His first film appearance was in 1912, but then he went back to stage and did not return to films until 1929. He performed in operettas and musicals, including The Ziegfeld Follies of 1917, the original production of the Jerome Kern musical Sally (1920) and the Gershwins' Lady Be Good (1924). In the last, he introduced the song "Oh, Lady Be Good!"[2]

Catlett made a handful of silent film appearances, but his film career did not catch on until the advent of talking pictures allowed moviegoers to experience his full comic repertoire. Three of his most remembered roles were as the stage manager given to distraction by James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, the local constable who throws the entire cast in jail and winds up there himself in the Howard Hawks' classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, and as Morrow, the drunken poet in the restaurant who "knows when [he's] been a skunk" and takes Longfellow Deeds on a "bender" in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

The New York Times film critic Mordaunt Hall wrote that "This clever comedian runs away with the acting laurels" in Big City Blues (1932).[4]

He played John Barsad in the 1935 David O. Selznick production of A Tale of Two Cities starring Ronald Colman. He also provided the uncredited voice of J. Worthington Foulfellow (a.k.a. Honest John) the Fox in the 1940 Disney animated film Pinocchio.

In the 1950s, he appeared in films like Here Comes the Groom, Friendly Persuasion and Beau James, as well as Disney's TV series Davy Crockett.


Walter Catlett died of a stroke on November 14, 1960 in Woodland Hills, California.

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on the 1700 block of Vine Street.[5]

Partial filmography


  1. "Hobart Cavanaugh, Noted Film, Stage Actor, Dead at 63". Miami Daily News-Record. Associated Press. April 26, 1950 – via<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> open access publication - free to read)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cullen, Frank; Hackman, Florence; McNeilly, Donald (October 16, 2006). Vaudeville, Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. Psychology Press. pp. 207–208. ISBN 9780415938532. Retrieved November 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Walter Catlett at the Internet Broadway Database
  4. Hall, Mordaunt. "Big City Blues (1932) / Walter Catlett Affords Good Fun in "Big City Blues," the New Film at the Winter Garden". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Walter Catlett". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links