Andrew “Andy” Clyde was a Scottish movie and TV actor whose career spanned more than four decades. He broke into silent films in 1925 as a Mack Sennett comic. Clyde came from a family that had been prominently identified with the theatre for generations; his brother David Clyde and sister Jean Clyde also became screen actors.
Andy Clyde’s mastery of makeup allowed him tremendous versatility; he could play everything from grubby young guttersnipes to old crackpot scientists. Clyde hit upon an “old man” characterization in his short comedies, which were immediately successful. Adopting a gray wig and mustache, he used this makeup for the rest of his short-subject career, and the character was so durable that he literally grew into it.
He remained with Mack Sennett and made a successful transition to sound films. In 1932, when the Sennett studio was facing financial problems, Sennett cut Clyde’s salary. Clyde objected and Sennett put the “old man” costume on character actor Irving Bacon. Audiences saw through it and Sennett abandoned the character. Sennett’s distributor, Educational Pictures, took over the Andy Clyde series, which continued for two more years.
Columbia Pictures launched its short subject department in 1934 and Andy Clyde was one of the first comedy stars signed by producer Jules White. Unlike many of the Columbia short-subject comedians who indulged in broad facial and physical gestures, Clyde was subtler and more economical: his comic timing was so good that he could merely lift an eyebrow, shudder slightly, or mutter “My, my, my” for humorous effect. Clyde was such an audience favorite that he continued to star in Columbia shorts through 1956. He outlasted every comedian on the Columbia payroll except The Three Stooges.