Fritz Feld
Feld in 1979
Born(1900-10-15)October 15, 1900
DiedNovember 18, 1993(1993-11-18) (aged 93)
Resting placeMount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles
OccupationActor
Years active1917–1989
Spouse(s)
(m. 1940)
Children2
RelativesRudi Feld (brother)

Fritz Feld (October 15, 1900 – November 18, 1993) was a German-American film character actor who appeared in over 140 films in 72 years, both silent and sound.[1] His trademark was to slap his mouth with the palm of his hand to create a "pop" sound.[2][3]

Early life and career

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Born in Berlin, Germany, Feld began his acting career in Germany in 1917, making his screen debut in Der Golem und die Tänzerin (The Golem and the Dancing Girl). Feld filmed the sound sequences of the Cecil B. DeMille film The Godless Girl (1929), released by Pathé, without DeMille's supervision since DeMille had already broken his contract with Pathé, and signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[4]

He developed a characterization that came to define him. His trademark was to slap his mouth with the palm of his hand to create a "pop!" sound that indicated both his superiority and his annoyance. The first use of the "pop" sound was in If You Knew Susie (1948).[2]

Feld often played the part of a maître d', but also a variety of aristocrats and eccentrics. In the 1938 screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby he played the role of Dr. Lehman. In 1939 he appeared with the Marx Brothers in At The Circus in the small role of French orchestra conductor Jardinet. In his later years, Feld appeared in several Walt Disney films and also played an uncharacteristically dramatic role in Barfly. He also portrayed one of the Harmonia Gardens waiters in the movie Hello Dolly! (1969). In addition to films, he acted in numerous television series in guest roles, including the recurring role of Zumdish, the manager of the intergalactic Celestial Department Store on Lost In Space, in two Season 2 episodes, "The Android Machine" and "The Toymaker". Zumdish returned in the Season 3 episode "Two Weeks In Space". In one 1967 episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., "The Napoleon's Tomb Affair", Feld played a banker, a beatnik, a diplomat and a waiter.

Feld made his final film appearance in 1989.

Personal life

Fritz Feld, with his wife, Virginia Christine (1979)
Fritz Feld, with his wife, Virginia Christine (1979)

Feld was married to Virginia Christine who was twenty years his junior and famous for her role as "Mrs. Olson" in television commercials for Folgers Coffee, from 1940 until his death in 1993 in a convalescent home in Los Angeles, California; Christine died in 1996.[1][5] The couple are interred at the Jewish Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles.[citation needed]

He was the younger brother of the art director Rudi Feld.

Feld was a strong enough amateur chess player that 1948 U.S. champion Herman Steiner and international master George Koltanowski would come to his home some evenings in the 1940s, with the three of them playing chess until 6 o'clock the following morning, as mentioned in The Bobby Fischer I Knew and Other Stories (Denker & Parr, 1995).

Partial filmography

References

  1. ^ a b "Fritz Feld, Actor, 93". New York Times. November 23, 1993. Retrieved February 11, 2009. Fritz Feld, a character actor who appeared in hundreds of films, radio programs, television shows and commercials, died on Thursday at a convalescent home after a lengthy illness. He was 93. Mr. Feld performed with numerous stars in a career that began in silent films.
  2. ^ a b "Fritz Feld". AllMovie. Retrieved July 21, 2009. It was in 1947's If You Knew Susie that Feld developed his signature "schtick": the sharp "Pop!" sound effect created by smacking his open mouth with the flattened palm of his hand.
  3. ^ "Fritz Feld. Character Actor's Career Spanned Many Eras". Los Angeles Times. November 21, 1993. Retrieved July 29, 2009. [Fritz Feld], veteran character actor who played movie directors, spies, conductors, psychiatrists, waiters, heavies and comedians for seven decades in 425 films, 500 television shows, 1,000 radio programs and 80 commercials, has died. He was 93. Feld's career endured from the silent era through the development of radio and television and to modern comedy films such as "The Sunshine Boys" in 1975 and Mel Brooks' "History of the World Part I" in 1981. When 20th Century Fox staged "A Tribute to Fritz Feld-60 Years in the Movies" at Hollywood's Tiffany Theater in 1977, Feld preferred to talk about the people he had worked with.
  4. ^ The Crank Film Series, UCLA, film notes Archived 2012-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Virginia Christine, TV's Mrs. Olson, 76". Associated Press in New York Times. July 26, 1996. Retrieved February 11, 2009. Virginia Christine, a character actress who portrayed the motherly Mrs. Olson in Folger's coffee television commercials for 21 years, died on Wednesday at her home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. She was 76. The cause was heart complications, her family said.

Further reading