Send in the Clowns

on September 03, 2008 by Steve Simels

Those of you who dropped by this space yesterday might recall that in our discussion of now mostly forgotten duo Wheeler and Woolsey (perhaps the least funny comedy team in screen history) I seemed to recall, imperfectly, that Robert Woolsey, the bespectacled half of the team, appeared in at least one of their films with his trademark round black glasses drawn on with greasepaint a la Groucho Marx's mustache. Kudos, then, to highly knowledgeable reader dSmith, who noted, accurately, that I was actually thinking of these guys instead.


clark and mccullough.jpg


That's the (also) now mostly forgotten Clark and McCullough, who starred in 35 comedy shorts for RKO between 1928 and 1935. Were they funnier than Wheeler and Woolsey? On the evidence I've unearthed since yesterday, I'd have to say yes (although, admittedly, that's not a stunning accomplishment); here's a representative sampling of their work and you can make up your own mind.

Interestingly, the team's biggest success, the Broadway hit musical The Ramblers, was filmed in 1930 as a vehicle for -- you guessed it -- Wheeler and Woolsey. After their film series ended, Bobby Clark (the guy with the drawn on glasses) continued to work in Hollywood (including TV) until his death in 1960. His partner Paul McCullough, alas, was not so lucky. In 1936 he sought treatment for severe depression at a sanitarium in Massachusetts. Upon his release, he stopped at a barber shop for a shave, grabbed the barber’s razor and cut his wrists and neck. He died two days later. Clark later told the press "I think it was just something Paul couldn't help. Something that had been with him all the time and he didn't even know it."


Tags: Robert Woolsey, Groucho Marx, The Ramblers, Bobby Clark, Paul McCullough

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