Eugene Pallette was one of Hollywood's most popular character actors whose career began during the silent era and continued into the 1940s.
Pallette was born July 8, 1889, in Winfield, Kan., and attended an Indiana military academy as a youth. After he left the academy, he immediately began pursuing a career on the stage, working in stock companies before moving to the silent screen.
His motion picture career, unlike a number of his silent-era contemporaries, flourished with the rise of the talkies. He was sought after for his distinctive gravelly voice, coupled with his rotund frame, both of which made him an immediately recognizable character actor.
Pallette appeared alongside some of the biggest stars of his era in films including "The Lady Eve," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Topper," "My Man Godfrey" and "Young Tom Edison."
After World War II, Pallette became convinced that a "world blow-up" by nuclear bombs was coming and decided to take his considerable earnings and build himself a "mountain fortress" in La Grande, Ore. The compound, on a 3,500-acre ranch, reportedly contained its own canning plant, a lumber mill and a herd of cattle.
When nuclear war didn't materialize after two years in Oregon, Pallette returned to Los Angeles, where he died in 1954 at his Westwood apartment, his wife and sister by his side. He was 65.