Charlotte Greenwood was a lanky vaudeville, Broadway and screen actress known for her comedic parts and her high kicks on stage.
Greenwood made her first appearance on the stage at age 14 in an English pantomime, “The White Cat.” Later she was in a chorus with the Rogers Bros. and had a few lines to say with Sam Bernard. This was her first chance. Bernard got a number of laughs by referring to her gawky appearance.
She decided that if people laughed at her they might laugh with her and went into vaudeville with Eunice Burnham in a sketch entitled “Two Girls at the Piano.” One night, purely by accident, she delivered her famous side kick. It created a riot. Theater owner Lee Shubert happened to see her in vaudeville and engaged her for “Passing Show of 1913.”
Theater manager Oliver Morosco saw the young woman on stage. He also realized that she had ability and gave her a three-year contract. Her first appearance under the Morosco management was with the “Tick Tock Man of Oz" and then with “Pretty Mrs. Smith.” “So Long Letty,” which featured music by Earl Carroll, was written especially for her and won her national fame.
Greenwood crossed into film, with one of her greatest hits being her part as Aunt Eller in the screen version of the musical “Oklahoma!” Oscar Hammerstein wanted her for the part of Aunt Eller when the play first opened on Broadway, but she was busy making movies at 20th Century Fox and couldn’t accept. Eleven years later, she got her chance to play the role on screen.
Ever an advocate for the leggy, Greenwood once wrote a pamphlet for tall girls called “Never Too Tall.”