John Bunny was an American actor and the first comic star of the early American silent film era.
Born in New York City, Bunny was raised in Brooklyn where he attended high school and worked as a grocery clerk before joining a small minstrel show touring the East Coast. He went on to jobs as stage manager for various stock companies and performed in vaudeville before being drawn to the fledgling motion picture business. By 1910, Bunny was working at Vitagraph Studios where the happy-go-lucky, rotund man quickly became an international star of silent film comedies. At Vitagraph he starred in a series of over one hundred popular comedies with the comedian Flora Finch that were popularly called “Bunnyfinches”.
The popularity of Bunny can be attributed to the succulent fun of the music hall and the circus, not the dry wit of sophisticated comedies. He was jolly, boisterous, and broad in his acting, and because of this style, he connected strongly with early nickelodeon audiences.
In a 1913 interview in Motion Picture Acting by Francis Agnew, he prophetically mused,