Billy Gilbert

Billy Gilbert, born as William Gilbert Barron, (September 12, 1894 - September 23, 1971) was an American comedian and actor known for his comic sneeze routines. He appeared in over 200 feature films, short subjects and television shows starting in 1929. He is not to be confused with silent film actor Billy Gilbert (a.k.a. Little Billy Gilbert, born William V. Campbell, 1891–1961). Born in Kentucky, the child of singers with the Metropolitan Opera, he began working in vaudeville at the age of 12. Gilbert was spotted by Stan Laurel who was in the audience of Gilbert's show Sensations of 1929. Laurel went back stage to meet Gilbert and was so impressed by him he introduced him to comedy producer Hal Roach. Gilbert was employed as a gag writer, actor and director, and at the age of 35 he appeared in his first film for the Fox Film Corporation in 1929. Gilbert broke into comedy short subjects with the Vitaphone studio in 1930 (he appears without billing in the Joe Frisco comedy The Happy Hottentots, recently restored and released on DVD). Gilbert's burly frame and gruff voice made him a good comic villain, and within the year he was working for producer Hal Roach.


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