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Famous Freemason - Isaiah Edwin Leopold

A comedian is not a man who opens a funny door. He opens a door funny.

Isaiah Edwin Leopold, better known as Ed Wynn, was an American actor and comedian. He was noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, and his later career as a dramatic actor.

Wynn was born Isaiah Edwin Leopold in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a Jewish family. His father, Joseph, a milliner, was born in Bohemia. His mother, Minnie Greenberg, of Romanian and Turkish ancestry, came from Istanbul.[3] Wynn attended Central High School in Philadelphia until age 15. He ran away from home in his teens, worked as a hat salesman and as a utility boy, and eventually adapted his middle name "Edwin" into his new stage name, "Ed Wynn", to save his family the embarrassment of having a lowly comedian as a relative.

By 1913, he was a headliner on Broadway, and the next year, he was hired by Florenz Ziegfeld for his Follies. That association was short lived: in 1914, as W.C. Fields was presenting a sketch called “Pool Sharks," Wynn appeared from under the pool table mugging for the audience. An irritated Fields came around to the front of the table and – says the legend – knocked Wynn unconscious with his cue.

His next employers were the Shubert Brothers, Ziegfeld’s principal rivals, who signed him to a long-term contract in 1917. However, in 1919, when actors nationwide staged a strike, Wynn joined them, though he had been working under relatively good conditions.

When Actors' Equity staged a benefit variety show for the cause, the Shuberts obtained a court injunction to keep their Starr from appearing. And when the emcee introduced him from the audience, Wynn stood up to express his regrets. "Of course the orders of the court must be obeyed,” he said, adding that, “If I had been able to appear tonight, I had in mind telling you a story” He thereupon proceeded to perform an entire act from the third row of the audience.

That impudent act got Ed Wynn blacklisted for life by the Shubert organization. He responded by becoming his own producer, and in fact, over the next two decades, from 1919 through 1942, he produced, wrote both words and music, directed and starred in a number of Broadway comedy revues, the most notable of which may have been “The Perfect Fool,” in which he found countless ways to be a buffoon.

By the 1930s, he was also appearing on radio, earning $5,000 as the host of the show “The Fire Chief.” Sponsored by Texaco to promote its new gasoline of the same name, it featured Wynn in the title role, entering the stage on a tiny play fire truck, and wearing an ill-fitting, child-size fire fighter’s helmet. (Though he was comfortable in the live theater, performing live on radio terrified Wynn, so he insisted on doing his shows in full dress and with a studio audience.)

In 1933, Wynn decided to set up his own network, called the Amalgamated Broadcasting System, into which he sank both his own and investors' savings. When it went bust, after four weeks, he was left owing $300,000 to creditors. He resolved to pay the money back, but by the end of the process, his wife had left him, and he suffered a mental breakdown. That was in 1937.

For the next two years, Wynn did not perform publicly, until finally his son, Keenan Wynn, the child of his marriage to Hilda Keenan, coaxed him back into working. He now added movies and television to his platforms, and in the 1950s, even took on serious acting roles.

In the last decade of his life, Ed Wynn performed in a series of Walt Disney movies, including “Babes in Toyland” and, most famously, “Mary Poppins,” in which he played Uncle Albert, a character who “loves to laugh”. He also starred in the 1959 film version of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” as Mr. Dussell, a role that won him an Oscar nomination. And in 1979, Wynn died, leading entertainer Red Skelton to remark: "His death is the first time he ever made anyone sad."

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