George David Givot (February 18, 1903 – June 7, 1984) was a Russian Empire-born American comedian and actor on Broadway and in vaudeville, movies, television and radio. He was known for speaking in a comedic fake Greek dialect and was styled the "Greek Ambassador of Good Will". His best known movie role may be as the voice of Tony in the Disney film Lady and the Tramp (1955).
Givot stated that he actually did not know who his parents are; he was adopted by a French family when he was three. According to official documents, he was born on 18 February 1903 in Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipro, Ukraine), Russian Empire, to Walf Givistinsky - later William Wolf Givot(1875–1955) and Sofya—later Sarah—Givistinsky (née Garber) (1875–1930).
According to the 1910 census, the family emigrated to the US in 1906 and settled in Omaha, Nebraska. They later moved to Chicago, where Givot went to high school and college. His night school journalism instructor became fed up with the class clown and sent him to see the man in charge of the midnight to 3 am broadcasts at a radio station, who hired him. Paul Ash heard Givot perform and gave him his start in vaudeville.
Givot was one of the earliest, perhaps the earliest, of the Greek dialect comedians, working in vaudeville, nightclubs, film and radio from the 1920s on. He had learned some Greek working in a Greek candy store in Omaha as a soda jerk. In 1949, Billboard magazine reviewer Bill Smith panned his performance in one East Side venue ("saw him take the prize for dullness"), but praised him for the same routines in "Billy Rose's mauve decade nitery":
In 1926, 16-year-old student Helen Britt was taken into custody for trying to blackmail the vaudeville entertainer, but was released when police were satisfied she was just joking.
When Mae West wrote the play The Constant Sinner, she wanted to cast African-American Lorenzo Tucker as her character's black lover. This would have been extremely controversial in the segregation-era United States of the 1930s, so she reluctantly agreed to have Givot perform in blackface instead. The producers insisted that Givot remove his wig at the end of every performance to show the audience he was white. The Constant Sinner ran on Broadway for 64 performances from September to November 1931.
George and Ira Gershwin were hired to showcase English music hall star Jack Buchanan in Pardon My English. When Buchanan was unable to convincingly play half of his double role (the lower-class German thug Golo Schmidt), he was replaced by Givot. Givot and Josephine Huston introduced the Gershwin song "Isn't It a Pity?" in the 1933 Broadway musical. Pardon My English was a flop and soon closed.
He had much better success as one of the stars of the 1944 Cole Porter musical Mexican Hayride. Here he met his future second wife, co-star Dorothy Durkee. Al Hirschfeld drew a caricature of Givot and others in the cast.
Givot appeared in a number of Big V Comedies, comedy shorts produced by Warner Bros. and Vitaphone in the 1930s. With the 1934 short Roast-Beef and Movies, MGM tried to create its own version of the Three Stooges, with Givot as the Moe Howard-like leader, and Curly Howard—an actual Stooge—in the role normally played by Larry Fine.
Givot played supporting roles not only in comedies and musicals, but also in dramas, from his debut in The Chief (1933) to the war movie China Gate (1957). Givot did star in the 1942 musical Flying with Music. As the voice of Tony in the animated Disney film Lady and the Tramp (1955), he sang "Bella Notte".
Givot was the original host of the Bonnie Maid Versa-Tile Varieties television series, which began airing in 1949 at 9 pm on Fridays on NBC. The September 10, 1949, Billboard issue gave him a moderately good review:
Nonetheless, he was replaced after two months.
He also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show twice in 1958, on May 11 and July 27.
Givot had his own radio show at different times. He was one of the panelists on Stop Me If You've Heard This One when it was revived in 1947. The April 20, 1946, issue of Billboard referred to him as a "one-time radio biggie".
He married actress Maryon Curtis in 1937. According to his advance man, Givot planned to retire and become a "gentleman farmer ... on his estate in Tarzana, Calif.", but marital problems drained his finances, forcing him to continue working. The couple divorced in 1941. On December 1, 1945, he married Dorothy Durkee. The two had become acquainted when they both starred in the musical Mexican Hayride; in fact, Durkee's character had chased Givot's.
According to newspaper gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel was a friend of Givot's and once inadvertently saved his life. Siegel persuaded the comedian to stay an extra day in Chicago; the plane he was going to take crashed, with the loss of 17 lives.
George Givot died of a heart attack on June 7, 1984, in Palm Springs, California. He was interred in California.
|Geburtsdatum:||18.02.1903 (♒ Wassermann)|
|Berufe:||Schauspieler, Synchronsprecher, Sänger, Bühnenschauspieler, Fernsehschauspieler, Hörfunkmoderator, Sprecher,|