William Edmunds in Casablanca (1942)
July 15, 1886
San Fele, Italy
|Died||December 7, 1981 (aged 95)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
William Edmunds (July 15, 1886 - December 7, 1981) was an Italian stage and screen character actor, typically playing roles with heavy accents (generally Italian, Spanish, and French), most notable as Mr. Giuseppe Martini in It's a Wonderful Life.
Born the son of Donato and Giovannina Pellegrino in San Fele, in the Italian region of Basilicata, he was christened Michele Frondino Pellegrino . He emigrated to the United States with his parents and siblings on the S/S Britannia, which sailed from Naples, Italy, and arrived at the Port of New York in April 1897. As an adult, he became an actor on the New York stage. He received his first credited role in motion pictures in the Bob Hope Going Spanish (1934). He relocated to Hollywood in 1938 and had bit parts in films such as Idiot's Delight (1939), and larger roles such as House of Frankenstein (1944, as gypsy leader Fejos), Bob Hope's Where There's Life (1947, as King Hubertus II) and Double Dynamite (1951, as Groucho Marx's long-suffering boss). His many short subject appearances include a few stints as Robert "Mickey" Blake's father in the Our Gang series. He has a brief appearance in Casablanca (1942) where in Rick's Café he gives instructions to a man seeking illegal passage out of Casablanca.
Edmunds was cast with James Stewart in three films, The Mortal Storm, The Shop Around the Corner (1940), and perhaps his signature role as Mr. Martini, the bar proprietor in It's a Wonderful Life. He had other notable parts in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), The Three Musketeers (1948), and The Caddy (1953), a Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy. Edmunds received top billing in the 1951 TV situation comedy Actors' Hotel.
He acted on Broadway in such plays as The New York Story and Follies, which he left to be in It's a Wonderful Life. Additional stage credits include Salt Water (1929-1930), Saluta (1934), Moon Over Mulberry Street (1935-1936), and Siege (1937).