January 22, 2018
Irving Ernest Bacon
DEFINITION: Serious in intention, purpose, or effort; an earnest worker.
A St. Joseph native, Irving Ernest Bacon spent his life living out his middle name (although spelled differently) as an endearing and enduring American character actor. His willingness to work as Hollywood’s “every man” made him one of the most earnest men in the history of cinema.
Bacon, born on September 6, 1893 in St. Joseph, Missouri, was so favored by producers some cinematic historians affectionately refer to him as “That Guy” since he was in thousands of scenes – credited and uncredited – throughout his career.
From the age of 16 when his father passed away after having moved the family to California, Bacon took on the real-life role of being the breadwinner. One of his early jobs, in addition to acting in silent comedy shorts starting in 1913, was working as a Carburetor and Magneto Machinist for the San Diego Battery and Ignition Company according to his 1917 WWI draft Registration Card. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War I and attaining the rank of Sergeant First Class, Bacon acted on stage for several years before getting seriously into films at Keystone Studios Hollywood in 1920.
Over the years he appeared in approximately 500 films. Talk about an earnest actor! His six foot tall and slender build, blue eyes and full head of light brown hair gave him the look needed for many roles. However, most historians agree that it was his talent for making animated facial expressions and the slightest of physical movements at just the right time that made him so popular on screen.
Three of his pictures won Academy Awards for Best Picture: “It Happened One Night” (1934), “You Can’t Take It With You” (1938) and “Gone With The Wind” (1939). Other feature titles include “Blondie,” “A Star is Born,” “Moonrise,” “Holiday Inn,” “Million Dollar Legs,” “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” “San Francisco,” “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Spellbound,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Merry-Go-Round,” “The Glenn Miller Story” and many more.
Bacon also worked steadily in dozens of television shows later in his career, most notably “Wagon Train,” “Riverboat,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “Leave it to Beaver,” “Real McCoys,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show,” and “I Love Lucy” to name a few.
Bacon died in Hollywood, California at the age of 71 on February 5, 1965. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California. While we don’t know how often he made it back to visit St. Joseph, it seems poetically full-circle that the name of his resting grounds is shared with the prominent Rosecrans Air National Guard Base right here in his place of birth, St. Joseph, Missouri.
Paramount Studios, https://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/irving_bacon
Fandom, http://lucilleball.wikia.com/wiki/File:The_Marriage_License.jpg (In I Love Lucy as a marriage license proprietor)
New Bulletin reporter Beany making lame excuses in Meet John Doe (Frank Capra Productions, 1941).
More than a decade of service later, the program continues to grow. Most of the kids who live in this St. Joseph neighborhood receive free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch during the school year, but have limited food resources in the summer.
Games of chance and dining establishments have been a part of St. Joseph, Missouri’s uncommon character since the earliest settlers gathered to let off some steam and gamble on optimistic odds.
America’s favorite pastime is alive in St. Joseph…every summer families, friends, and neighbors gather together to enjoy baseball, hot dogs, family fun, fireworks, and more in the heart of St. Joseph to relax and watch the Mustangs play ball at the historic Phil Welch Stadium.
You don’t get on billboards in New York City, praised by publications like Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly and perform alongside rock legends without breaking some rules.
Born in 1783 to a St. Louis family of merchants and fur traders, Joseph Robidoux would become the founder of St. Joseph, MO.