Keenan Wynn was an American character actor and member of a well-known show business family. His bristling mustache and expressive face were his stock in trade, and though he very rarely had a lead role, he got prominent billing in most of his many movie and TV parts.
He was born in New York City, New York as Francis Xavier Aloysius James Jeremiah Keenan Wynn, the son of Jewish American vaudeville comedian Ed Wynn, and his Irish-American Catholic wife, the former Hilda Keenan, but took his stage name from his maternal grandfather, Frank Keenan, one of the first Broadway actors to star in Hollywood.
Keenan Wynn became an actor with Ed Wynn’s encouragement and the two appeared together in the original Playhouse 90 television production of Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight. The son was returning the favour: according to radio historian Elizabeth McLeod, it was Keenan who had helped his father overcome professional collapse and a harrowing divorce and nervous breakdown to return to work a decade earlier, and who now helped convince Serling and producer Martin Manulis that the elder Wynn should play the wistful trainer. as well as a subsequent TV drama detailing the problems they’d experienced while working on that show called The Man in the Funny Suit. In that show, the Wynns, Serling and much of the cast and crew played themselves. Keenan was also in another of Rod Serling’s productions, an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled “A World of His Own”.
Keenan Wynn appeared in hundreds of movies and television shows between 1934 and 1986. His credits include The Clock, Royal Wedding, Alias Smith and Jones, Emergency!, Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss Me, Kate, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, and Herbie Rides Again.