Edward Vincent Bracken
February 7, 1915
|Died||November 14, 2002 (aged 87)|
Glen Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.
|Connie Nickerson (1939–2002; her death)|
|Children||Michael, David, Judy, Carolyn, Susan|
Edward Vincent Bracken (February 7, 1915 – November 14, 2002) was an American actor. Bracken became a Hollywood comedy legend with lead performances in the films Hail the Conquering Hero and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek both in 1944, both of which have been preserved by the National Film Registry. During this era, he also had success on Broadway, with performances in plays like Too Many Girls (1939).
Bracken was born in Astoria, Queens, New York, the son of Joseph L. and Catherine Bracken. Bracken performed in vaudeville at the age of nine and gained fame with the Broadway musical Too Many Girls in a role he reprised for the 1940 film adaptation. He had performed in a short film series called The Kiddie Troupers (one of many Our Gang-like series) prior to that, but that film was his big break. In 1936, Bracken enjoyed success on Broadway with his starring run in the Joseph Viertel play So Proudly We Hail. The military drama, co-starring Richard Cromwell, opened to much fanfare but closed after 14 performances at the 46th Street Theater.
In the 1940s, director Preston Sturges cast Bracken in two of his best-loved films, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, opposite Betty Hutton, and Hail the Conquering Hero. Due to the popularity of these films, Eddie Bracken was a household name during World War II. He made numerous radio broadcasts and had his own program, The Eddie Bracken Show.
In 1953, Bracken left Hollywood. He appeared on Broadway in Shinbone Alley, Hello, Dolly!, The Odd Couple and Sugar Babies. His last appearance on Broadway was in the musical Dreamtime, directed by David Niles at the Ed Sullivan Theater at the age of 77.
Bracken's extensive television roles between 1952 and 2000 include an episode of The Golden Girls as Rose Nylund's ex-childhood boyfriend from St. Olaf, as well as an episode of Tales from the Darkside playing a stubborn old man who refuses to believe that he has died. After nearly 30 years out of feature films, he returned to perform character roles, including the sympathetic Walley World theme park founder Roy Walley in National Lampoon's Vacation, and Duncan's Toy Chest toy store owner Mr. Duncan in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Bracken also had a long career with Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, starring in dozens of productions in the 1980s-early 2000s. One high point was their production of Show Boat in which he played Cap'n Andy Hawkes. This production was broadcast on PBS in 1990. He also played a cameo in Patrick Read Johnson's 1994 film, Baby's Day Out, as one of the veterans in the old soldier's home.
Bracken has acted in films with two actors who later became U.S. Presidents; these were Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. Bracken co-starred in The Girl from Jones Beach with Reagan in 1949, thirty-one years before Reagan was elected president, and Bracken and Trump played minor parts in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in 1992, twenty-four years before Trump was elected president.
On November 14, 2002, Bracken died in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, of complications from an undisclosed surgery at the age of 87. His wife of 63 years, Connie Nickerson, a former actress, died in August 2002, just three months before his death. He met Connie when they performed together in a road company of the Broadway play What a Life in 1938. Together Eddie and Connie had five children: two sons (Michael and David) and three daughters (Judy, Carolyn and Susan).
For his contributions to radio and television, Bracken has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1651 Vine Street and 6751 Hollywood Boulevard respectively.
|1944||Suspense Mystery Radio Play||The Visitor|
|1947||Suspense Mystery Radio Play||Elwood|
|1953||Broadway Playhouse||Hail the Conquering Hero|