Edward Arnold was an American actor. He was born on the Lower East Side of New York City as Gunther Edward Arnold Schneider, the son of German immigrants Carl Schneider and Elizabeth Ohse.
Interested in acting since his youth , Arnold made his professional stage debut in 1907. He found work as an extra for Essanay Studios and World Studios, before landing his first significant role in 1916’s The Misleading Lady. In 1919, he left film for a return to the stage, and did not appear again in movies until 1932, when he made his talkie debut in Okay America!. He recreated one of his stage roles in one of his early films, Whistling in the Dark. His role in the 1935 film Diamond Jim boosted him to stardom. He reprised the role of Diamond Jim Brady in the 1940 film Lillian Russell.
Arnold appeared in over 150 movies. Although he was labeled “box office poison” in 1938 by an exhibitor publication, he never lacked for work. Rather than continue in leading man roles, he gave up losing weight and went after character parts instead. Arnold was quoted as saying, “The bigger I got, the better character roles I received.” He was such a sought-after actor, he often worked on two pictures at the same time.
Arnold was an expert at playing rogues and authority figures. He was best known for his roles in Come and Get It, Sutter’s Gold, The Toast of New York, You Can’t Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Devil and Daniel Webster. He was the first actor to portray Rex Stout’s famous detective Nero Wolfe, starring in Meet Nero Wolfe”, the film based on the first novel in the series.