One of the leading burlesque and vaudeville stars who went on to Broadway musical comedies, Bert Lahr had a fitful and rather unremarkable film career highlighted only by his delightful turn as the Co...
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
The Godfather has been named Hollywood's top movie of all-time following an extensive survey of Tinseltown's top studio bosses, Oscar winners and players.
The 1972 crime drama has beaten out The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane to top the new Hollywood Reporter list, while The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction round out the top five.
MGM via Everett Collection
Casablanca, The Godfather: Part II, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Schindler's List make the top 10.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, directors Gary Ross, John Singleton and Michael Bay, Disney boss Alan Horn, producer Frank Marshall and top agent Robert Newman were among those who took part in the survey.
The outfit, worn by Bert Lahr in the classic movie, has been reunited with the ruby slippers and pinafore dress Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in the film for the Icons of Hollywood sale at Profiles in History in California, scheduled for 15 and 16 December (11).
Profiles boss Joe Maddalena tells WENN, "This costume was worn when the Cowardly Lion first meets Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road and sings If I Only Had the Nerve... Just like the ruby slippers we offer in the same auction that Dorothy wore when she clicked her heels together and returned to Kansas, this Cowardly Lion costume is very special because it was worn in some of the most magical moments of the film. It is one of only two known costumes worn by Bert Lahr."
The costume, made from an actual lion hide, is expected to sell for more than $2 million (£1.25 million).
Other items going under the hammer at the auction include the lavish trailer Elizabeth Taylor used as a home from home on the set of 1963 movie Cleopatra; Taylor and Eddie Fisher's marriage license from their Las Vegas wedding; Steve McQueen's two-piece Gulf racing suit from film classic Le Mans; Marilyn Monroe's wedding ring; Bela Lugosi's Count Dracula cape, and the DeLorean sports car from Back to the Future III.
Collapsed during filming of last movie, "The Night They Raided Minsky's"
Reprised stage role in the TV adaptation of "Burlesque" (NBC)
Toured in "Make Mine Manhattan" in the role originated by Sid Caesar; appeared in film version
Had year-long run as the prize fighter hero of the musical "Hold Everything"
Appeared in a series of TV commercials for Lay's Potato Chips
Reunited onstage with Beatrice Lille to star in Billy Rose's "Seven Lively Arts", featuring songs by Cole Porter
Feature film debut in "Flying High"
Starred in "Hot-Cha!", produced by Florenz Ziegfeld
Portrayed the Cowardly Lion/Zeke in "The Wizard of Oz"
First played NYC's Palace Theater
Had leading roles in two TV productions, "Androcles and the Lion" and "School for Wives"
Was first comedian and stage manager for "Roseland Girls"
Appeared in the stage show "Flying High"
Starred in the revue "Two on the Aisle"
Starred in the unsold pilot "Mr. O'Malley" (CBS)
Played the father in the TV production of "The Fantasticks" (NBC)
Starred opposite Ethel Merman in the Cole Porter musical "DuBarry Was a Lady"
Won Tony Award for turn as Volpone in the musical "Foxy"
Made rare dramatic appearance onstage in "Burlesque"
Appeared alongside Nancy Walker, Dick Van Dyke and Shelley Berman in the revue "The Girls Against the Boys"
Played opposite E G Marshall in the Broadway production of "Waiting for Godot"
Broadway debut in "Harry Delmar's Revels"; show closed in 16 weeks
Had biggest success in burlesque in "Keep Smiling"
Served in the US Navy during WWII
At age 18, joined the Columbia burlesque circuit; perfected act playing burlesque "Dutch" characters
Made first appearance in Shakespeare, cast as Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Autolycus in "The Winter's Tale"
Spent three years touring with Seven Frolics, a children's vaudeville act; adopted stage surname of Lahr
Appeared in "The Beauty Part" by S J Perelman
Played opposite Beatrice Lillie in "The Show Is On", staged and conceived by Vincente Minnelli
Returned to the stage opposite Tom Ewell in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, Florida
Starred in the Broadway production "Hotel Paradiso", featuring Angela Lansbury
With Mercedes Delpino, formed act Lahr & Mercedes
One of the leading burlesque and vaudeville stars who went on to Broadway musical comedies, Bert Lahr had a fitful and rather unremarkable film career highlighted only by his delightful turn as the Cowardly Lion in the now classic 1939 version of "The Wizard of Oz". Born to a German immigrant father in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, the precocious Lahr dropped out of school at age 15 and quickly found success with the Seven Frolics, a children's stage act. Altering his last name from Lahrheim to Lahr, he went on to a successful career as a burlesque comic (performing "Dutch" characters, replete with accent) and later in an acted paired with his future wife Mercedes Delpino, eventually playing the Palace Theater in 1925. After debuting on Broadway in "Harry Delmar's Revels" in 1927, Lahr had his first major success in a stage musical playing the prize fighter hero of "Hold Everything" (1928-29). Several other musicals followed, notably "Flying High" (1930), Ziegfeld's "Hot-Cha!" (1932) and "The Show Is On" (1936), which teamed him with Beatrice Lillie in a show conceived and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Audiences loved Lahr's penchant for mugging. twisting his face into comic grotesques and ad-libbing hilarious quips. Often onstage, he would perform routines that became signature pieces, like his famous "Stop in the name of the fire house" routine.
Lahr made his film debut in 1931's "Flying High" playing an oddball inventor. Like several other stage stars (e.g., Ethel Merman), his personality was too larger-than-life to be captured on screen. In his early films, Lahr comes off as too broad and overbearing. Despite an on-again, off-again film career over the next thirty-odd years, he had only one role that perfectly suited his unique abilities. Some critics have made a case that Lahr's portrayal of the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz" is not only his best screen work, but also one of the greatest screen performances ever. Debate over that will undoubtedly rage into the next century, but there is not doubting that children of all ages respond to the character. Teamed with fellow vaudevillians Ray Bolger and Jack Haley, Lahr proves close to perfection whether warbling the number "If I Were King of the Forest" or cowering in fear of Margaret Hamilton's truly scary Wicked Witch of the West. None of his other film roles allowed him to tap into his personality in quite the same way.
Even though his film career proved minor, Lahr continued to triumph as a stage performer. The same year as "Oz", he and Ethel Merman scored a hit in the Cole Porter musical "Du Barry Was a Lady" as did his reteaming with Bea Lillie for Billy Rose's "Seven Lively Arts" (with another Porter score) in 1944, A rare dramatic role in "Burlesque" (1946) proved that there was more to his talent than just a funny man and it paved the way for future roles that would tap hitherto unknown sides of his persona. Notable stage successes in revues like "Two on the Aisle" (1951) and "The Girls Against the Boys" (1959) bookended triumphs like his starring role opposite E.G. Marshall in the 1956 landmark Broadway production of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot". Beckett had conceived the piece as a vaudeville and Lahr was more than in his element. Turns in Shakespeare (particularly as Bottom, one of the Bard's best comic roles, in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in 1960) and in such sophisticated comedies as "Hotel Paradiso" (1957) and "The Beauty Part" (1962) further testified to his versatility. Lahr's career culminated in a Tony-winning star performance in "Foxy" (1964), a musical adaptation of "Volpone". The actor collapsed on the set of his last film "The Night They Raided Minsky's" (1967), which ironically was set in the heyday of burlesque. A trouper to the end, Lahr succumbed to a hemorrhage that was a result of complications from cancer on December 4, 1967 as age 72. His son, author and critic John Lahr, wrote a biography "Notes on a Cowardly Lion", that proved (like many other comedians) he was a troubled and unhappy individual. Despite his private persona, the public Lahr was a consummate entertainer and forever holds a special place in the hearts of children everywhere who perennially watched "The Wizard of Oz".
Teamed up for a dance act c. 1919; Had common law marriage until officially wed Aug. 29, 1929; Lahr granted annulment 1940 on the grounds Delpino was clinically insane
mother, Mildred Lahr; survived him
born in 1929; mother, Mercedes Delpino; survived him
born on July 12, 1941; mother, Mildred Lahr; survived him
German immigrant; settled in the Yorkville section of Manhattan
Married Feb. 11, 1940 until his death Dec. 4, 1967