Lobby card for Streamline Express (1935) with Vince Barnett at center
July 4, 1902|
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||August 10, 1977
Encino, California, U.S.
|Genevieve Meier (1929-1955)
Kit Barnett (his death)
Vince Barnett (July 4, 1902 - August 10, 1977) was an American film actor. He appeared on stage originally before appearing in more than 400 films between 1930 and 1975.
Barnett was born July 4, 1902, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Luke Barnett, a well-known comedian who specialized in insulting and pulling practical jokes on his audiences. (Luke's professional nickname was "Old Man Ribber" and "the King of Ribbing".)
"Barnett for years [was] known in Hollywood as the 'professional ribber' -- appearing at banquets and parties as a paid 'insulter.'" He would insult the guests in a thick German accent, spill the soup and drop the trays--all to the great delight of hosts who enjoyed watching their friends squirm and mutter "Who hired that jerk?"
"Among the celebrated 'victims' of his practical jokes were President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Bernard Shaw, Henry Ford, and Charles Lindbergh."
Barnett made his stage debut with 'Earl Carroll's Vanities' in 1926. The following year, he acted on Broadway in 'George White's Scandals'.
The diminutive, chrome-domed Barnett also appeared in the 1926 edition of Earl Carroll's Vanities. He began appearing in films in 1930, playing hundreds of comedy bits and supporting parts until retiring in 1975. Among his more sizable screen roles was the moronic, illiterate gangster "secretary" in Scarface. From 1930 Barnett appeared, usually as comedy relief, in films and on television in a career spanning 45 years. Among his best-regarded early roles, apart from Scarface, were The Big Cage (1933), Thirty Day Princess (1934) and, in a perfectly suited Runyonesque part, Princess O'Hara (1935). In later years, Vince often relinquished his comedy image and was seen in innumerable small roles, often as careworn little men, undertakers, janitors, bartenders and drunks in pictures ranging from films noir (The Killers, 1946) to westerns (Springfield Rifle, 1952).
In one of his last public appearances, Vince showcased his unique brand of humour with a monologue, delivered at Madison Square Garden in the vaudeville revue The Big Show of 1936.