Bert Lahr was born on this day in 1895

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LAHR (lar)

American comic actor

Common clues: Cowardly Lion portrayer Bert; Fearful feline actor Bert; Costar of Bolger and Haley

Crossword puzzle frequency: 4 times a year

Frequency in English language: 62396 / 86800

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Bert Lahr, born Irving Lahrheim, (August 13, 1895 – December 4, 1967) was a Tony Award-winning American comic actor. Born in New York City, he is best remembered today for his role as the Cowardly Lion (and the farmworker "Zeke") in the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, but known during his life for a career in burlesque, vaudeville and Broadway.

Lahr made his feature film debut in 1931's Flying High playing the part of the oddball inventor that he had previously played on stage. He appeared in a number of musical shorts in the years following. In 1938, he came back to Hollywood to work on a number of feature films including: Merry Go Round of 1938 (1937), Love and Hisses (1937), Josette (1938), Just Around the Corner (1938) and Zaza (1939). Aside from The Wizard of Oz (1939), his movie career never caught on, possibly because his gestures and reactions were too broad for that intimate medium. His later life was troubled, although he made the transition to straight theatre. He costarred in a much-praised version of Waiting for Godot in 1956 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, Florida in which he played Estragon to Tom Ewell's Vladimir. Lahr thought of himself as the "top banana" in the production, telling Ewell "not to crowd him". (When Beckett learned of this, he complained that the play was being taken away from his "major character", Vladimir).

In 1967, Lahr died of pneumonia in New York City in the middle of filming The Night They Raided Minksy's, forcing producers to use a double in several scenes. Fittingly, this last role was as a burlesque comic. Lahr is buried in Field Cemetery, Flushing, Queens.

His son, New Yorker theater critic John Lahr, wrote a biography of his father's life titled Notes on a Cowardly Lion.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bert Lahr".