Eddy Bracken was one of those actors who never seemed to have a huge success, but had an enjoyable life and career.
Born in 1915, by age 9 he was appearing in Vaudeville. He appeared in “Kiddie Troupers”, a series of movies trying to follow on the success of “Our Gang”. He made the move to Broadway and landed a starring role in the 1936 military drama So Proudly We Hail. The show opened to great fanfare and acclaim and closed after 14 performances. In 39 he appeared in the musical Too Many Girls, and got his “big break’ when the show was made into a movie starring Lucille Ball. During the 40s he starred in two comedies by Preston Sturges, one of the pioneers of Screwball Comedy. These films The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero were popular enough that Eddy Bracken became a household name. He also had considerable radio success during this period, notably The Eddy Bracken Show, a teenage comedy, and several appearances on Dorothy Lamour‘s Seal Test Variety Show. He also appeared on Suspense and Academy Award Theater.
In 1953 Eddy left Hollywood to concentrate on stage work. He replaced Tom Ewell in the road company of “The Seven Year Itch”, in the 60’s he took over Art Carney’s role in “The Odd Couple”, he joined the road company of “Hello Dolly” during the 70s and replaced Ray Walston as the Devil in “Damn Yankees”. Eddy would later quip “I’m the theater’s No. 1 takeover guy for everybody.” He claimed to not mind the long tours on the road; “I’m only tired until the curtain goes up.” After 30 years away from Hollywood he returned to perform in a few character roles, including theme-park owner Roy Walley in National Lampoon’s Vacation.