Monty Woolley was an American stage, film, radio, and television actor. At the age of 50, he achieved a measure of stardom for his best-known role in the stage play and 1942 film The Man Who Came To Dinner. He distinctive white beard was "his trademark."
He was born Edgar Montillion Woolley in New York City to a wealthy family and grew up in the highest social circles. Woolley attended Yale University, where Cole Porter was an intimate friend and classmate, and Harvard University. He eventually became an assistant professor of English and dramatic coach at Yale. Thornton Wilder and Stephen Vincent Benet were among his students.
He left his academic career and began acting on Broadway in 1936. In 1939 he starred in the Kaufman and Hart comedy The Man Who Came To Dinner for 783 performances. It was for this well-reviewed role he was typecast as the wasp-tongued, supercilious sophisticate.
Like Clifton Webb, Woolley signed with 20th Century Fox in the 1940s and appeared in many films through the mid-1950s. His most famous film role was one which he first performed on Broadway, that of a cranky radio wag restricted to a wheelchair because of a seemingly-injured hip in 1942's The Man Who Came to Dinner, a caricature of the legendary pundit Alexander Woollcott. The film received a good review from the New York Times. He played himself in Warner Bros.' fictionalized film biography of Cole Porter, Night and Day .