About the Book
As a young boy in the depths of the 1890s depression, Joe E. Brown had a job: making faces at the firemen on passing coal-burning trains so they would throw coal
at him. As a child he also worked as a circus acrobat and newsboy. His inventiveness and spunk helped his family get through hard times but also fueled his fascination with entertainment, and he built up a repertoire of rubber-faced expressions and funny antics that would make his stage and screen work memorable. Baseball was a favorite pursuit in his life and thus a recurring theme in his films and skits.
In this biography--the first on one of the top film comedians of the 1930s--the reader learns of Joe’s challenging childhood and how it prepared him for later screen roles, and how his love of baseball translated into screen successes. His early career in vaudeville is discussed, his work as a Broadway comedian in the Roaring Twenties, his road to movie stardom, and how he parlayed his love of sports into big hits like 1930’s Elmer the Great. The year 1935 gets its own chapter; its films are considered the pinnacle of Brown’s career, including Alibi Ike, Bright Lights and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The final chapters reveal what happened after he left Warner Bros., including the bittersweet 1940s, when he entertained troops around the globe while mourning a son lost to the war. The book concludes with a comprehensive filmography of his features from 1928 to 1963.
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