• 11 August 1891
  •  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Helen Broderick


Helen Broderick was a deliciously funny character comedienne with vaudeville and stage experience, a close friend of Jeanne Eagels. The story goes that, at the age of 14, she ran away from home because her mother (who featured in operatic comedy) was totally obsessed by the theatre. Ironically, all the people she met turned out to be performers, and Helen (who needed to make a living, after all) ended up where she hadn't wanted to be -- on the stage. Helen started out as a chorus girl in the first Ziegfeld Follies in 1907. Her talent for comedy was discovered quite by accident. In 1911, she was understudy to the actress Ina Claire in the Broadway play 'Jumping Jupiter'. One night, Claire was unable to perform and Helen Broderick stood in as the romantic lead. She soon had the audience in stitches, trampling about the stage like an elephant, rolling her big saucer eyes and attempting to croon 'Cuddle Near Me All Day Long' in her rather unique voice. The romance was no more and instead turned into a popular farce with Helen now permanently installed in the lead role. For a while, Helen partnered her husband Lester Crawford in vaudeville. In the 1920's, she enjoyed success on Broadway, most notably in 'Fifty Million Frenchmen' (a role she took to Hollywood in 1931). Her best parts in the movies were as the perennial friend or chaperone of the heroine (the type of role subsequently associated with Eve Arden), delivering acidic wisecracks in her inimitable dead-pan manner. On several occasions, Helen co-starred with Victor Moore, one of her previous acting partners on Broadway. However, these efforts were decidedly bottom-of-the-bill. She reserved her amusing best enlivening some of RKO's prestige musicals, especially Top Hat (1935) and Swing Time (1936) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Another good part came her way in The Rage of Paris (1938) (with Danielle Darrieux). Helen retired from films in 1946 and died thirteen years later at Beverly Hills Doctor's Hospital at the age of 68.


Movie Name Release Date
Δεν χορεύω πια – Swing Time (1936) September 22, 1937
Top Hat (1935) September 6, 1935