(Universal,1941) starring Olsen and Johnson, Martha Raye
and a cast of hundreds!
Page updated 13th June, 2010.
Before 'Airplane' (aka
'Flying High'), before 'Blazing Saddles', before '1941'
and in the year 1941, there was 'Hellzapoppin'', a
madcap, zany, hilarious and addictive 'movie' (well,
that's open to question, to quote from the script) based
on a highly successful Broadway comedy of the same name.
Did you ever wonder where Mel Brooks, the Zuckers and
many other successful movie makers and entertainers found
their one-liners and sight gags? Don't ask me, but you
might find some answers in 'Hellzapoppin'.
Full cast and
crew details, plus a number of entertaining viewer
comments, will found on the Internet
page, established March, 2004, will gather information on
the cast and crew from hardcopy sources; old movie
annuals, magazines and reference books. Contributions are
welcome, either by way of comments, information or
photos. You can e-mail me at email@example.com If
sending image attachments, please contact me prior to
CAST - detailed | KNOWN CAST LIST | GENERAL QUOTES | LINKS | RECORDING | STAGE VERSION | Video-DVD | TRIVIA
| COMMENTS | HELP REQUIRED!
THE CAST - so far
||Martha Raye (r.n. Margaret Theresa
Yvonne Reed) ('Betty Johnson')
was born on 27th of August, 1916 in Butte,
Montana. According to James Parish in The
Slapstick Queens (Barnes, 1973), backstage
at the local vaudeville theatre where her parents
were performing. Blue eyes and dark brown hair,
five feet four inches tall. The book mentioned
above devotes over 50 pages to Martha.
photo is from an English cigarette card printed
during the 1930s.
information on Martha Raye is available from this site.
||Jane Frazee (r.n. Mary
Jane Freshe) ('Kitty Rand')
Born on 18th of July, 1918,
in Duluth, Minnesota, Jane retired in 1951 and
went into the real estate business. "If her
sister had not married, we should not have seen
Jane Frazee on the screen. Jane and her sister
Ruth began singing together as children.
Schooldays over, they used their talent
professionally, but their successful and
prominent team was broken when Ruth married. They
made their last appearance together in Hollywood.
This gave Jane her chance, and she made her film
debut in the leading role of 'Melody and
Moonlight'. She has since been in 'Rookies',
'Angels with Broken Wings', Moonlight in Hawaii'
and 'Sing another Chorus'. She is five feet four
inches tall, with blue-green eyes and chestnut
hair, and is of Norwegian descent." * +
|Shemp Howard ('Louie')
Born Sam Howard on the 4th
March, 1895, Shemp is remembered for his work
with the Three Stooges but in fact made many
independent appearances after Columbia signed him
as a featured player. 'Curly' replaced Shemp
until 'Curly' became ill. Shemp returned to the
Stooges but passed away from a heart attack on
his way home from a prize fight at Hollywood
Legion Stadium on the 11th November, 1955. **
|Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson
Siguard Olsen, born in Peru, Indiana on 6th of
November, 1892 and Harold Ogden 'Chic' Johnson,
born on 5th March, 1891, formed their crazy
partnership in 1915 after a number of years of
vaudeville experience. They toured the USA,
Australia and Britain during the 1920s before
going into movies in 1930. The original stage
production of Hellzapoppin' began in New York at
the 46th Street Theatre on the 22nd of September,
1938, and ran for three years. Chic passed away
in 1962, Ole in 1963. This information comes from
Brian Rust's discography mentioned below.
||Mischa Auer (r.n. Mischa Ounskowski) ('Pepi')
Born on 17th of November,
1905, in St Petersburg, Russia, Mischa took his
stage name from his maternal grandfather,
violinist Leopold Auer, who brought him to
America in 1920. Mischa attended the Ethical
Culture school in New York, entered theater and
while appearing in 'Magda' on Broadway was
offered a role in 'Something always Happens' by
director Frank Tuttle, in 1928. For the next
seven years he played small, usually villainous,
parts but finally hit the big time thanks to his
great performance in Gregory La Cava's comedy,
'My Man Godfrey'. After appearing in around 60
films, Mischa moved to Europe where he continued
to work in the movies, right up until just before
passing on in 1967. Brown eyes and hair, six feet
three inches tall. ** +
||Elisha Cook, Jnr. ( 'Harry
Born on the 26th of December, 1903
in San Francisco, Elisha first appeared in
vaudeville at the age of 14 and on the stage
before going into the movie 'Her Unborn Child',
in 1929, duplicating the part he'd played in the
stage version. Returning to Broadway, it would be
another 6 years before he moved into the movies
as a regular, usually playing wiry gangsters or
evil henchmen. Most remembered for his role in
'The Maltese Falcon' with Bogart, often termed
the toughest little guy in Hollywood, after Jimmy
Cagney. Brown hair and eyes. ** +
||Andrew Tombes ('Max Kane')
Born in 1889, in Ashtabula,
Ohio, Andrew came to the movies by way of
vaudeville and musical comedies on the stage,
like most actors of his era. Often played
"... a genial man with a mischievious
streak, often a doctor or a judge" + Brown eyes. **
||Gus Schilling ('the
Born on 20th of June, 1908
in New York City, Gus followed the usual route to
Hollywood, via burlesque and musical comedies. **
||George Chandler ('the
cameraman' - uncredited)
30th of June, 1898 in Waukegan, Illinois, George followed the usual route to
Hollywood, via burlesque and musical comedies. He was
apparently billed as 'The Musical Nut' + ! Brown
hair and eyes, five feet eight inches tall.**
Picture Show Annual, 1943, published by
Amalgamated Press, London, 1942.
** From Picture Show Who's Who on the Screen,
published by Amalgamated Press, London, c1956. Date of
birth corrections kindly supplied by Jordan Young.
+ From information contained in Ephraim Katz's The
International Film Encyclopaedia, MacM, London
stills from the movie are located, I'll replace the above
.... Ole Olsen
Chic Johnson .... Chic Johnson
Robert Paige .... Jeff Hunter
Jane Frazee .... Kitty Rand
Lewis Howard .... Woody Taylor
Martha Raye .... Betty Johnson
Dean Collins .... Betty's dancing partner
Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart.... Specialty (as
Slim and Slam)
Ann Johnson and Frankie Manning.... Dancers (as
Harlem Congeroos) see Sheila's note below
Ben Hall .... Goofy man in Betty's way
Clarence Kolb .... Andrew Rand
Nella Walker .... Mrs. Rand
Mischa Auer .... Pepi
Richard Lane .... Director
Elisha Cook Jr. .... Harry Selby
Hugh Herbert .... Quimby
Olive Hatch .... Ballet specialty
Shemp Howard .... Louie
Gilbert .... Louie's girlfriend
Andrew Tombes .... Max Kane
George Davis .... Butler
Hal K. Dawson .... Photographer
George Chandler .... Cameraman (uncredited)
Frank Darien .... Man calling for Mrs. Jones
Eddie Acuff .... Drafted devil
Fred Sanborn .... Man playing tic-tac-toe
Billy Curtis .... Taxi driver
Harry Monty .... Midget
Catherine Johnson .... Lady looking for Oscar
Don Brodie .... Theater manager
Gil Perkins .... Butler in pool
Dale Van Sickel ... Man Who Falls Into Pool
Gus Schilling .... Orchestra conductor
Sig Arno .... Cellist
Bert Roach .... Robert T. MacChesney
Jerry Mandy .... Chef with bread (uncredited)
Susan Miller .... Mother calling for Junior
Rex Stewart .... Trumpet specialty (uncredited)
Tiny Lipson .... Junior
" ...The townspeople build a fake Rock Ridge, which
the army blows up, precipitating the cast of 'Blazing
Saddles' into the set of the musical extravaganza being
filmed next door, a gag that had been used more than a
generation before in 'Hellzapoppin'. ''
of Movie Comedy by Janice Anderson, Deans,
London, 1985. isbn 0 603 03694 5 (page 177)
Johnson, first seen on the film in this country in that
super-crazy picture, "Hellzapoppin", are a pair
of comedians who are perfect in their own line of comedy.
They were the introducers of crazy comedy in America and
"Hellzapoppin", in which they starred, ran
three years on the stage."
From Picture Show Annual, 1943,
published by Amalgamated Press, London, 1942.
Videos and an all-region DVD are available.
Region 2 version is now available.
You may already know this but there you can buy a
legitimate DVD of Hellzapoppin through www.amazon.co.uk.
The full link is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hellzapoppin-Ole-Olsen/dp/B000KP7N3W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8
The price is a very reasonable £4.98 (about $US 11-12)
and shipping was £3.00 to Canada. It is a legit release
by Universal unlike the bootleg versions available on
ebay and elsewhere. - Richard Kolke 13.8.08
comments below; these are not from the movie.)
This information comes from Brian Rust's The Complete
Entertainment Discography to 1942 (Arlington House,
USA, 1973) isbn 0 87000 150 7. A ban on recording by the
American Federation of Musicians in 1942 brought all
recordings to a halt for 2 years which is possibly the
reason for there being no records of the movie's
soundtrack. Olsen and Johnson did generate the following
recording, probably based on the stage show.
Vocal by O/Spud Murphy, with the Four Bellles. NY c May,
1940. Varsity recording label.
US-1716-1 - Oh! Gee, Oh, Gosh, Oh! Golly, I'm in Love
US-1718-1 - My Heartzapoppin' ("Hellzapoppin'")
There have been Japanese releases of the music; found a
web page but it disappeared before I could return and
As is generally known, the movie was a watered down
version of the stage version. For some details, use the
musicals.101 link below. Why was it watered down?
Certainly some aspects of the stage version would offend
sections of the viewing public today but one has to ask
if somewhere there are out-takes just waiting to be seen.
LINKS TO RELATED PAGES
1930s Musicals http://www.musicals101.com/1930bway2.htm
Martha RAYE http://www.colonelmaggie.com/
Polish film history site (in Polish) http://www.inzine.sk/
SF Musings http://www.scifilm.org/musings2/musing712.html
Lindy Hop - West Coast Jitterbugs http://user.tninet.se/~toa518t/js/Lindy/Hellsapoppin/pictures.htm
O'Fun', the stage sequel to Hellzapoppin', played
Broadway's Wintergarden in 1941, then toured the US. Joe
Besser, who played a stooge with Moe and Larry in 1957's
'Hoofs & Goofs', partnered Ole Olsen's brother in the
comedy act of Alexander and Olsen, and later went into
'Sons O'Fun'. From Richard Lamparski's Whatever Became of ...?,
#11.Crown, 1989 isbn 0 517 57151 x
Films and Filming for August 1968 mentiions this being
one of the most popular comedies to be screened on BBC1.
COMMENTS - Thanks to all
you you! Latest below.
2/03/05 4:01:37 AUS Eastern Daylight Time
Vahl and Merijane
Hellzapoppin played at the Strand Theater in
Marshalltown, Iowa in 1941, while I was the doorman
(ticket taker). Big hit with the audiences. Too bad it is
not available on DVD or VHS. [It is; but not through shops.
Best place on the net is via eBay. - John]
Did you know that George Chandler, a cast member, was
president of the Screen Actors Guild at one time? [No,
but thanks for letting us know.]
16/03/05 3:31:26 AUS Eastern Daylight Time
Harlem Cangaroo [Harlem Congeroo]
dancers, aka Whitey's Lindy Hoppers...in order of
William Downes (overalls) and Frances
"Mickey" Jones (maid).
Norma Miller and Billy Ricker
Al Minns (white coat, black pants) and Willa
Ann Johnson (maid) and Frankie
I hope this helps!
19/05/07 1:01:24 AUS Eastern Standard Time
I saw your HELLZAPOPPIN' page and thought I'd give you
some additional music info.
none of the songs you listed is from the 1941 Universal
film; they are associated with various incarnations of
the stage production (not the original 1938 Broadway
the only song from the film to be recorded was
"Watch The Birdie". It was recorded by Sonny
Dunham and by Gene Krupa, both in 1941.
surviving promotional discs sent by Universal to radio
stations. I have recordings of the following 78rpm discs:
"What Kind of Love is This"
"Watch the Birdie"
"Heaven For Two"
"You Were There" (2 sides - chorus and
Jane Frazee with chorus)
To date I have not been able to track down a disc of
"The Congo Basso".
personal note, the film is credited to H.C. Potter.
However it is completely unlike ANYTHING Potter otherwise
directed on film. The cutting, camera setups, pacing are
all completely in the style of then-Universal comedy ace
Eddie Cline (who directed the other three Universal
O&J films). I have always been convinced that Cline
did most of the helming on this picture. Unfortunately,
this is pure speculation on my part and I am the first to
give NO credence to any suppositions that are not
supported by primary source material (studio memos etc.).
HELLZAPOPPIN was reissued by Realart Pictures in 1950,
they removed the pre-title sequence and opened the film
on a static "Hellzapoppin" title card.
version of HELLZAPOPPIN was not really a
"watered-down" version of the stage production.
The stage show was a revue. It was not in any form that
could be adapted to the screen (as Richard Lane barks -
"this is Hollywood, we change everything!"). So
they took the name, a few gags and created a
film-oriented hour-and-a-half of lunacy. Olsen and
Johnson's subsequent films were actually closer to their
stage shows in that they featured a parade of specialty
acts in between the comedy sequences.
tons of promotional material on O&J and their shows
& films. What I have never been able to track down is
an original theatrical trailer to HELLZAPOPPIN or the
1941 pressbook (I have the Realart pressbook, which is
only a four page adaptation).
and Johnson sob story is that I use to have an ashtray
with a full color printed emblem "Stolen From Olsen
and Johnson's Carmel NY Restaurant". My wife put it
in the dishwasher. After 50 years, ALL GONE! Chic and Ole
would have loved that one!
some trivia - Chic Johnson's grandson is Bob May, who
played the Robot on LOST IN SPACE.
Chelsea Rialto Studios
Now Available on CD: Max Steiner's THE THREE MUSKETEERS http://www.chelsearialtostudios.com
Date: 26/09/07 AUS Eastern Daylight Time
Greetings! You have a great website! I hope Universal
will release all four Olsen & Johnson comedies on
DVD, domestic USA Region 1 someday soon. I love
HELLZAPOPPIN' - one of my all-time favorite musical
comedies !!! I love Olsen & Johnson !!! I would like
to further add to the songs listed on the soundtrack of
the movie. Thanks to Ray Faiola for adding his
contribution, to which I will add the following: The
songs which follow the ones he has listed are: WAITING
FOR THE ROBERT E. LEE - Sung by Martha Raye, with studio
orchestra and chorus The CONGA BESO [CONGA KISS] - Sung
by Jane Frazee, with studio orchestra and chorus END
TITLE - Universal Studio Orchestra and chorus, conducted
by Charles Previn. The entire movie's music score was
conducted by Charles Previn, composed by Charles Previn
and Frank Skinner, Orchestrations by Ted Cain. Ray sent
me a CDR of his seven tracks of songs from
HELLZAPOPPIN'. WOW! Imagine having a soundtrack
album from the film! I love it! Cheers, Don J. Long
[Later] A fan of Olsen & Johnson since the late 1950s
when I first saw HELLZAPOPPIN' and their zany followup
feature CRAZY HOUSE (Universal, 1943). P.S. In 1990, I
met John Olsen Lear, the grandson of Ole Olsen, and the
son of William Lear, of Lear Jet fame. He lives in Las
Vegas, Nevada, and is a commercial pilot. I was invited
to his home near Nellis Air Force Base and he showed me a
miniature piano about 4 feet long by 3 feet wide and
about 4 feet high, that Ole Olsen used in his vaudeville
show days onstage! He also showed me pictures of Ole and
his wife, and pics of O & J clowning around.
24/09/08 6:14:19 AUS From:
firstname.lastname@example.org (John Perin)
On the "Hellzapoppin" webpage, you give the
dates of death for Olsen & Johnson. You are correct
that Chic Johnson passed away in 1962, but Ole Olsen died
in 1963 (not 1965). / I have a DVD of
"Hellzapoppin" that a purchased at a Radio-TV
convention here earlier this year and really enjoy
watching it. Thank you.
John Perin, Cincinnati, Ohio
Thanks, John; I've changed the date.
21/12/07 8:07:54 AUS From: email@example.com (Donald
Can you put this request out for me on your website? Can
someone please tell me the names and composers of the
classical music scores heard in the movie HELLZAPOPPIN in
the ballet scenes at Kitty Rand's country estate theater
with Martha Raye and Mischa Auer performing their comic
antics? Thank you!
Cheers, Don J. Long
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