What a Character: Grady Sutton

Grady Sutton, character actor playing anything from a soda jerk to a party guest.

You may recognize him by his southern drawl or pudgy exterior but never have know his name.

In over 200 films and television shows from 1925 to 1979, character actor Grady Sutton can be found acting in scenes with top stars and rarely receiving billing.

But at 6’2” and rather overweight, Sutton is hard to miss and usually stole the scene.

Sutton traveled to Hollywood on vacation as a college student in the 1920s with his roommate, brother of director William Seiter. Sutton was invited on set and used as an extra in the film; starting his expansive movie career.

The Tennessee native could break your heart as he searched for his date, Susie Flemming-who clearly stood him up, at the military dance in “Since You Went Away,” or irritate you as he keeps cutting in on Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby in “White Christmas.”

Looking for Susie Flemming at the dance in “Since You Went Away” (1944)

“I just can’t figure out what happened to Susie Flemming”

Signature blank face while still looking for Susie Flemming

He acted along stars such as Katharine Hepburn in “Alice Adams” (1935) or Carole Lombard in “My Man Godfrey” (1936).

His roles usually consisted of humorous, blundering or confused characters such as James Stewart’s teaching assistant in “Vivacious Lady” (1938).

W.C. Fields, in particular, was a fan of Sutton’s acting and frequently requested to have him in his films, according to Sutton’s 1995 New York Times obituary.

Danny Kaye keeping Grady Sutton from cutting in on Bing Crosby and Rosemarry Clooney in “White Christmas” (1954)

“When the producers told Fields he had to use another actor in “The Bank Dick,” Fields said, ‘Then get yourself another Fields,’ according to the obituary.

Sutton passed away in 89, in Motion Picture and Television Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.

12 thoughts on “What a Character: Grady Sutton

  1. Pingback: WHAT A CHARACTER! Sunday entries… | Once upon a screen...

  2. What an amazing way to start a career! These “unknown” character actors mean as much to us as the big stars. I’m so glad he was able to live a long life!

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  3. Great post, Jessica. Mr. Sutton is exactly the kind of character actor this blogathon was intended for. What an impressive career. I admit, though certainly familiar with him and his work, I never put it together he was in that many great films. I mean, seriously WOW! Wonderful choice for this blogathon and you pay great tribute. Thanks so much for taking part.

    Aurora

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  4. I remember him from “Since you Went Away”, and also from the Fields’ films; that’s cool Fields was such a fan. I also liked him as Hattie’s (Phyllis Kennedy) date in “Stage Door”. Nice write-up!

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  5. Grady was one of the best. His role as Og Oggilby was mid way thru his career, but he was perfect as a target for Fields’ schemes.

    I spoke with Grady on the phone once, and he was the most gentle and appreciative person you could imagine. See my posts that include him at the Bit Actors Blog. Just look for Grady along the right side of the page.

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  6. Wow, 200 films! There are many famous films in his career, and when I have the chance to watch them, for sure I’ll pay attention to Grady.
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Greetings!

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  7. Just discovered your outstanding blog — and from close-by Elkin! — really enjoy the writing and appreciation for mutual favorites Grady Sutton and “Since You Went Away.”

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  8. This is a really fun blog! Just kinda bumped into Joel McCrae and Laraine Day in Foriegn Correspondent (great movie), and after looking to learn a little more about each of them I somehow ended up over here. Anyway, a fun, fun blog! Keep going!

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