Saturday, May 2, 2009

George Seaton

George Seaton
Photo by Allan Grant, date unknown
From the Google Life Magazine Image Archives

Wondering if perhaps the Marx Brothers had played a local theater in their vaudeville days, I indulged in exhaustive research by typing "Marx Brothers" and "South Bend" into the Google search thingamabob. I didn't find any accounts of the boys playing here. If I put forth a little more effort, I wouldn't be surprised to find they performed here, as they did live in Chicago for a while, and Chicago is only about a hundred miles away.

What I found is that a South Bend native was responsible for some of the Marx Brothers comedy. George Seaton was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1911. After college, he moved to Detroit, where he was the second actor to portray the Lone Ranger on the radio. He claimed he originated the phrase, "Hi-yo, Silver" when he was unable to whistle for his horse as was called for in the script. Seaton signed on as a contract writer for MGM in 1933, and contributed uncredited material for the 1935 Marx movie A Night at the Opera, then was asked by Groucho to co-write A Day at the Races (1937), for which he received screen credit. Seaton went on to have a fairly successful career, including writing and directing the holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street(1947), for which he won an Oscar for best screenplay. He won a second Oscar for the screenplay A Country Girl (1954). In later years, his success was limited, but he was nominated for an Oscar for 1970's Airport. Seaton died in Beverly Hills in 1979.

1 comment:

  1. Groucho played South Bend in 'The Man of Her Choice' in 1907. Also, the Marx Brothers played the Orpheum theater in South Bend at least twice. 'Fun in Hi Skule' in 1911 and 'Home Again' in 1918.