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Forest Lawn Cemetery (Glendale), 1712 S Glendale Ave, Glendale, CA 91205, USA

Franklin "Pangie" Pangborn (January 23, 1889 – July 20, 1958) was an American comedic character actor. He lived with his mother and the occasional boyfriend in a comfortable home in Laguna Beach. Pangborn was famous for small, but memorable roles, with a comic flair. He appeared in many Preston Sturges movies as well as the W. C. Fields films International House, The Bank Dick, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.[1][2] Leading man Edward Everett Horton was well known to be homosexual, and Franklin Pangborn, whose name would forever be linked with Horton's in their later movie careers, also top-lined Majestic shows. Borth Horton and Pangborn began appearing infrequently in movies in the 1920s.

Pangborn was born in 1889 in Newark, New Jersey, the son of an electrical engineer. Both his parents frowned on his stage aspirations: "To mention the stage to my mother was to bring a tragic look on her face and a sob to her voice," Pangborn recalled.

Eventually, the young actor landed a place in Mildred Holland's stock company, touring with her across the country. From there he hopped over to Alla Nazimova's company in 1911, playing a major role in her play "The Marionettes." He played Messala in Klaw and Erlanger's production of "Ben-Hur." For Jessie Bonstelle's stock company, his roles ranged from comedy to melodrama to tragedy. During every performance of "The Professor's Love Story," he wore two kerchiefs tied around his neck, one red and the other yellow. He told the Detroit Free Press that the kerchiefs were his most treasured possessions, having been brought from India to England by his great-great-grandmother, and to America by his mother's aunt in 1839. His mother had presented the kerchiefs to him on his 21st birthday. Jessie Bonstelle and Alla Nazimova had both tried to coax them from him, he said: "I was assailed on every side for one of my kerchiefs. It has now become an amusing occupation to display one of these scarfs, then to listed to the pleas from the fair sex."

He attained the rank of corporal in the 312th Infantry, seeing battle in France in September 1918 and again in October in the famous Battle of the Argonne. He was wounded and gassed, but recovered in time to become part of the hospital's entertainment program, doing imitations of Sarah Bernhardt in a "negligee all ruffles and a big red wig." But one night, done up in the costume of a Follies chorus girl, he began stammering and couldn't finish his act. Suffering the delayed effects of shell shock, he was shipped back to the US and discharged.

Heading to Hollywood, he signed a contract with the Majestic Theatre, where Edward Everett Horton was already regaling audiences. Later, he'd follow Horton again to the Vine Theatre, where he produced plays on his own, although not as successfully as Horton.

In the early 1930s, Pangborn worked in short subjects for Mack Sennett, Hal Roach, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Pathé Exchange, almost always in support of the leading players. (He played a befuddled photographer opposite "Spanky" McFarland in the Our Gang short subject Wild Poses (1933), for example.) He also appeared in scores of feature films in small roles, cameos, and in recurring gags of various types. From there it was a quick leap into major character parts in features: competing with Horton for fluttery honors in Design for Living (1933), harassed by Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey (1936), and dunked underwater in Shirley Temple's Just around the Corner (1938).

One of those character actors who always played essentially the same character no matter the situation, Pangborn portrayed a prissy 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-speed patter-type speech pattern. He typically played an 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 Hays Office fully censored filmmaking, and was notable for several risqué references (by 1933 standards). In one scene, Professor Quail, played by W. C. Fields, has just landed his autogyro on the roof of the titular hotel in the Chinese city of Wuhu, but he does not know where he is. Pangborn plays the hotel manager: Professor Quail: Hey! Where am I? Woman: Wu-Hu. Professor Quail: Woo-Hoo to you sweetheart! Hey Charlie! where am I? Pangborn: WU-HU! (Fields then removes the flower from his lapel) Professor Quail: Don't let the posy fool you!

In John M. Stahl's Only Yesterday (1933), he played an interior decorator who arrives at a party with a handsome escort (Barry Norton), a rare suggestion that a sissy might actually have a sexuality.

In 1938 Franklin Pangborn was reported to agree to a part in Topper Takes a Trip only on the condition he not have to faint in the film. "In three previous pictures," the article said, "he's had to faint, and he says he's tired of being typed as a "fainter."" Pangborn (or his publicists) had apparently decided his image needed a little tweaking: in one studio press release around the same time, the point was made that if you called Pangborn a "sissy" offstage, he'd "implant five hard knuckles on your proboscis."

Pangborn was an effective foil for many major comedians, including Fields, Harold Lloyd, Olsen and Johnson, and The Ritz Brothers. He appeared regularly in comedies (including several directed by Preston Sturges) and musicals of the 1940s. When movie roles became scarce, he worked in television, including The Red Skelton Show (in which he played a Murderous bandit) and a This Is Your Life tribute to his old boss, Mack Sennett. Pangborn was briefly the announcer on Jack Paar's The Tonight Show in 1957, but was fired after the first few weeks for a lack of "spontaneous enthusiasm" and replaced by Hugh Downs.

Pangborn's final public performance came as a supporting player in The Red Skelton Show episode for April 22, 1958.[3]

Pangborn lived in Laguna Beach, California in a house with his mother and his "occasional boyfriend" according to William Mann in Behind the Screen.[4] He died on July 20, 1958.[5]

For his contributions to motion pictures, Pangborn received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street on February 8, 1960

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