Actor Edward Arnold

Günther Edward Arnold Schneider (February 18, 1890 – April 26, 1956) was an American actor of the stage and screen.

Personal life

Arnold was born on February 18, 1890, in Lower East Side of New York City, the son of German immigrants Elizabeth (Ohse) and Carl Schneider. His schooling came at the East Side Settlement House.

Arnold was married three times: to Harriet Marshall (1917–1927), with whom he had three children—Elizabeth, Jane and William (who had a short movie career as Edward Arnold Jr.); to Olive Emerson (1929–1948), and to Cleo McLain (1951 until his death).

Acting career


Interested in acting since his youth (he first appeared on stage at age 12, as Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice), Arnold made his professional stage debut in 1907. He had important roles in several plays on Broadway in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Among them is the 1927 revival of The Jazz Singer, with Arnold as the second lead to the star, George Jessel.


He found work as an extra for Essanay Studios and World Studios, before landing his first significant role in 1916’s The Misleading Lady. He returned to the stage in 1919, and did not appear in movies again until his talkie debut in Okay America! (1932). He recreated one of his stage roles in one of his early films, Whistling in the Dark (1933). His role in the 1935 film Diamond Jim boosted him to stardom. He reprised the role of Diamond Jim Brady in the 1940 film Lillian Russell. He played a similar role in The Toast of New York (1937), another fictionalized version of real-life business chicanery, for which he was billed above Cary Grant on posters, with his name in much larger letters.

Arnold appeared in over 150 movies. Although he was labeled “box office poison” in 1938 by an exhibitor publication (he shared this dubious distinction with Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Fred Astaire and Katharine Hepburn), he never lacked work. Rather than continue in leading man roles, he gave up losing weight and went after character parts instead. He said, “The bigger I got, the better character roles I received.” He was so sought-after, he often worked on two pictures at once.

Arnold was expert as rogues and authority figures, and superb at combining the two as powerful villains quietly pulling strings. He was best known for his roles in Come and Get It (1936), Sutter’s Gold (1936), the aforementioned The Toast of New York (1937), You Can’t Take It with You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941), and a larger than life star turn as Daniel Webster in The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941). He was the first to portray Rex Stout’s famous detective Nero Wolfe, starring in Meet Nero Wolfe (1936), based on the first novel in the series.

He played blind detective Duncan Maclain in two movies based on the novels by Baynard Kendrick, Eyes in the Night (1942) and The Hidden Eye (1945).

Arnold made a posthumous cameo in the 1984 film Gremlins as the deceased husband (visible in a large framed photograph) of Mrs. Deagle, a character much like the rich, heartless characters Arnold was known for. Director Joe Dante mentioned that they received permission from Arnold’s family to use his image.


From 1947 to 1953, Arnold starred in the ABC radio program Mr. President. He also played a lawyer, Mr. Reynolds, on The Charlotte Greenwood Show. In 1953, he hosted Spotlight Story on the Mutual network.


Arnold hosted Your Star Showcase, “a series of 52 half-hour television dramas … released by Television Programs of America.” It was launched January 1, 1954, and ran in 1950 cities. He co-starred in “Ever Since the Day”, an episode of Ford Theatre on NBC.


Midwestern University awarded Arnold an honorary Doctor of Letters degree on May 24, 1951. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6225 Hollywood Blvd.


  • Arnold was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1940 to 1942.
  • In 1940, his autobiography Lorenzo Goes to Hollywood was published.
  • He was the co-founder of the I Am an American Foundation.[clarification needed]
  • Politics

    Starting in the 1940s, Arnold became involved in Republican politics and was mentioned as a possible candidate for the United States Senate. He lost a closely contested election for Los Angeles County Supervisor and said at the time that perhaps actors were not suited to run for political office.[citation needed]

    Arnold supported Thomas Dewey in the 1944 United States presidential election.


    Arnold died at his home in Encino, California, at age 66, from a cerebral hemorrhage associated with atrial fibrillation. He was interred in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.


  • The Misleading Lady (1916) as Sidney Parker (film debut)
  • The Strange Case of Mary Page (1916) as Dr. Foster
  • Vultures of Society (1916) as Joseph Gripp
  • Sherlock Holmes (1916) as Moriarty Henchman In Striped Cap (uncredited)
  • The Return of Eve (1916) as Seymour Purchwell
  • The Slacker’s Heart (1917) as Frank Allen
  • Phil for Short (1919) as Tom Wentworth
  • A Broadway Saint (1919) as Mr. Frewen
  • The Cost (1920) as Hampden Scarborough
  • Murder in the Pullman (1932, Short) as Nick Valentine
  • Okay, America! (1932) as Duke Morgan
  • Three on a Match (1932) as Ace
  • Afraid to Talk (1932) as Jig Skelli
  • Rasputin and the Empress (1932) as Dr A. Remezov
  • Whistling in the Dark (1933) as Dillon
  • The White Sister (1933) as Father Saracinesca
  • The Barbarian (1933) as Pasha Achmed
  • The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933) as Inspector Ennis (uncredited)
  • Jennie Gerhardt (1933) as Sen. Brander
  • Secret of the Blue Room (1933) as Commissioner Forster
  • Her Bodyguard (1933) as Orson Bitzer
  • I’m No Angel (1933) as “Big Bill” Barton
  • Duck Soup (1933) as Politician (uncredited)
  • Roman Scandals (1933) as Emperor Valerius
  • Madame Spy (1934) as Schultz
  • Sadie McKee (1934) as Jack Brennan
  • Thirty Day Princess (1934) as Richard M. Gresham
  • Hide-Out (1934) as Det. Lt. ‘Mac’ MacCarthy
  • Million Dollar Ransom (1934) as Vincent Shelton
  • Wednesday’s Child (1934) as Ray Phillips
  • The President Vanishes (1934) as Secretary of War Lewis Wardell
  • Biography of a Bachelor Girl (1935) as Mr. ‘Feydie’ Feydak
  • Cardinal Richelieu (1935) as Louis XIII
  • The Glass Key (1935) as Paul Madvig
  • Diamond Jim (1935) as Diamond Jim Brady
  • Remember Last Night? (1935) as Danny Harrison
  • Crime and Punishment (1935) as Insp. Porfiry
  • Sutter’s Gold (1936) as John Sutter
  • Meet Nero Wolfe (1936) as Nero Wolfe
  • Come and Get It (1936) as Barney Glasgow
  • John Meade’s Woman (1937) as John Meade
  • Easy Living (1937) as J.B. Ball
  • The Toast of New York (1937) as Jim Fisk
  • Blossoms on Broadway (1937) as Ira Collins
  • The Crowd Roars (1938) as Jim Cain
  • You Can’t Take It with You (1938) as Anthony P. Kirby
  • Idiot’s Delight (1939) as Achille Weber
  • Let Freedom Ring (1939) as Jim Knox
  • Man About Town (1939) as Sir John Arlington
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) as Jim Taylor
  • Slightly Honorable (1939) as Vincent Cushing
  • The Earl of Chicago (1940) as Quentin ‘Doc’ Ramsey
  • Johnny Apollo (1940) as Robert Cain Sr.
  • Lillian Russell (1940) as Diamond Jim Brady
  • The Penalty (1941) as Martin ‘Stuff’ Nelson
  • The Lady from Cheyenne (1941) as James ‘Jim’ Cork
  • Meet John Doe (1941) as D.B. Norton
  • Nothing but the Truth (1941) as T.T. Ralson
  • The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) as Daniel Webster
  • Unholy Partners (1941) as Merrill Lambert
  • Johnny Eager (1941) as John Benson Farrell
  • Design for Scandal (1941) as Judson M. Blair
  • The War Against Mrs. Hadley (1942) as Elliott Fulton
  • Eyes in the Night (1942) as Duncan ‘Mac’ Maclain
  • The Youngest Profession (1943) as Burton V. Lyons
  • Standing Room Only (1944) as T. J. Todd
  • Janie (1944) as Charles Conway
  • Kismet (1944) as The Grand Vizier
  • Mrs. Parkington (1944) as Amory Stilham
  • Main Street After Dark (1945) as Lt. Lorrgan
  • Ziegfeld Follies (1945) as Lawyer (‘Pay the Two Dollars’)
  • The Hidden Eye (1945) as Capt. Duncan Maclain
  • Week-End at the Waldorf (1945) as Martin X. Edley
  • Janie Gets Married (1946) as Charles Conway
  • Three Wise Fools (1946) as Theodore Findley
  • No Leave, No Love (1946) as Hobart Canford Stiles
  • The Mighty McGurk (1947) as Mike Glenson
  • My Brother Talks to Horses (1947) as Mr. Bledsoe
  • Dear Ruth (1947) as Judge Harry Wilkins
  • The Hucksters (1947) as David ‘Dave’ Lash
  • Three Daring Daughters (1948) as Robert Nelson
  • Big City (1948) as Judge Martin O. Abercrombie
  • Wallflower (1948) as Andrew J. Linnett
  • Command Decision (1948) as Congressman Arthur Malcolm
  • John Loves Mary (1949) as Sen. James McKinley
  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949) as Joe Lorgan
  • Big Jack (1949) as Mayor Mahoney
  • Dear Wife (1949) as Judge Harry Wilkins
  • The Yellow Cab Man (1950) as Martin Creavy
  • Annie Get Your Gun (1950) as Pawnee Bill
  • The Skipper Surprised His Wife (1950) as Adm. Homer Thorndyke
  • Dear Brat (1951) as Senator Wilkins
  • Belles on Their Toes (1952) as Sam Harper
  • City That Never Sleeps (1953) as Penrod Biddel
  • Man of Conflict (1953) as J.R. Compton
  • Living It Up (1954) as The Mayor
  • Twelve Angry Men (1954, TV Movie) as Juror #10
  • The Houston Story (1956) as Paul Atlas
  • The Ambassador’s Daughter (1956) as Ambassador William Fisk
  • Miami Exposé (1956) as Oliver Tubbs (final film)
  • Radio appearances

    Year Program Episode/source
    1942 Philip Morris Playhouse The Maltese Falcon

    External Links

    Actor Edward Arnold – Wikipedia

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