• 10 February 1906
  •  El Reno, Indian Territory, USA [now Oklahoma, USA]

Erik Rhodes


With his slicked back hair and thin moustache Erik Rhodes arrived in Hollywood to recreate his stage role of Rudolfo Tonetti (which he had performed first on Broadway and then in London, 1932-1933) for the filming of The Gay Divorcee (1934), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Contrary to his screen image, Erik was born in Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Oklahoma where he won a scholarship to study acting in New York. He made his theatrical debut, delivering eight lines, in the 1928 play 'A Most Immoral Lady', under his birth name Ernest (sometimes spelled Earnest) Sharpe. Because of his good baritone voice, he was next cast in two musicals. An expert mimicker of accents and dialects, he came to specialise in films as the perennial hyperactive continental charmer. In his second notable screen outing, Top Hat (1935), he played flamboyant dressmaker Alberto Beddini, famously declaring to Ginger Rogers "All my life I have promised my dresses I'd take them to Italy...and you must be in them". There were other good parts, particularly in the comedy A Night at the Ritz (1935) as would-be master chef Leopold Jaynos. Andre Sennwald's review in The New York Times (May 16,1935) commented on Erik's performance "as the psychopath with a yearning for culinary immortality, he gives 'A Night at the Ritz' its air of polite lunacy and helps to wring laughter out of a featherweight enterprise". Erik Rhodes made films at RKO until 1937, more often than not as excitable Europeans (Henri Saffron in Woman Chases Man (1937), Frank Rochet in Old Man Rhythm (1935), Tony Bandini in Criminal Lawyer (1937) and, not forgetting, Spaghetti Nadzio in Music for Madame (1937)). By the end of the decade, his screen career had run its course. After his wartime service with U.S. Air Force Intelligence, he went back to Broadway for a lengthy spell in 'Can Can' as a Parisian bon vivant.


Movie Name Release Date
Top Hat (1935) September 6, 1935