Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Secret Show Business Dream...

...is to be regarded as the Twenty-First Century Franklin Pangborn


One of those character actors who always played essentially the same character no matter the situation, Pangborn portrayed a fussy type of person, polite, elegant, and highly energetic, often officious, fastidious, somewhat nervous, prone to becoming flustered but essentially upbeat, and with an immediately recognizable high-speeed patter-type speech pattern. He typically played and officious desk clerk in a hotel, a self-important musician, a fastidious headwaiter, an enthusiastic birdwatcher, and the like, and was usually put in a situation of frustration or was comedically flustered by someone else's topsy-turvy antics.


Pangborn's screen character, which might be described at times as prissy or flighty, was often considered a gay stereotype, although such a topic was too sensitive in his day to be discussed overtly in the dialogue. A rare exception occurred in International House, which was filmed before the Hay's Office fully censored filmmaking, and was notable for several risqué references (by 1933 standards). In this scene, Fields has just arrived at the titular hotel in the fictitious Chinese city called "Wu Hu", but he does not know for sure where he is. Pangborn is the hotel manager:


Fields: Where am I?

Pangborn: Wu Hu!

Fields (giving him a sharp look and removing a flower from his lapel): Don't let the posy fool you!

Franklin was born 1889 and went on to his spotlessly clean and neatly ordered reward in 1958, so we're long overdue for a shot of Pangborn-osity.  And I'm just the dame to do it.

It's fresh, it's needed, it's an idea who's time has come!

Franklin fucking Pangborn darlings.

4 comments:

Kabuki Zero said...

Not only is it the part your were born to play, you've been playing it for years. No one had to good sense to film you and that is their loss. All of our future encounters will be captured in widescreen HD digital spendour. Now if only I can find something to wear. Although the left coast is so very much warmer I may not need clothes at all. Always thinking of you - kabuki

FelixInHollywood said...

I somehow knew you'd understand.

jason said...

"we're long overdue for a shot of Pangborn-osity. And I'm just the dame to do it."

Wu Hu!
I'm putting my posy back on in his honor.

Meyer Goretsky said...

In the 70's, the University of Pittsburgh had The Franklin Pangborn Film Appreciation Society, (or something like that)in honor of former student Pangborn.