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Appeared on radio showRobert W. Strauss (March 1879 - Nov 9. 1940)
Brothers & Sisters:
Nellie (b.1875), Albert (b.1873), Norah (b. 1870), Sam A.
No marriages
By February 1907 Robert.W. Strauss was appearing in the theatrical production "The Matchmakers" with Dan Sully.
 Above right: By February 1907 Robert.W. Strauss was appearing in the theatrical production The Matchmakers with Dan Sully.

Robert W. Strauss was born in March 1879 in Chattanooga, Tennessee as youngest of 4 children to Samuel (a bookkeeper and son to a German immigrant) and Jennie Strauss (daughter of Squire I. J. Browning and Clara Everett Browning).

He attended Second District school, City High and Chattanooga's Baylor's University school. While in school, young Strauss directed and had leading roles in The Guilded Fool, and in Charlie's Aunt, both of which were extremely popular. He went on on to Lehigh university (Class of '04) to study mining engineering. Robert aka "Shorty" was not only member of the dramatic club but also the Mandolin Club (playing first mandolin) and soon became too interested in theatricals instead of rocks and minerals. He once was employee in the Southern Express company's local office in Chattanooga.

After he left Lehigh he went to New York in 1903, studying the drama under Rachel Crothers and John Mason. His first New York appearance was as an extra in Camille, starring Henry Miller and Margaret Anglin.

By February 1907 Robert W. Strauss was appearing in the theatrical production The Matchmaker with the Dan Sully Co. He also appeared with such well known actors as Louis Mann and James Young. It was with the latter he made his first professional appearance in Chattanooga in Brown of Harvard. It was at the really fine Eleventh street theater that at first bore the name of Schuber.

After three years of theatrical work he turned to vaudeville.
As early as May 1909 Robert was active in the circuit. Together with Catherine Calvert he supported James Young, of Brown of Harvard fame, Mr. Young appeared in a college farce called When Love Is Young, by Rida Johnson Young.

"The best work in the piece is done by Strauss as the bogus sister, although a very thin man in an extremely low-cut gown hinges on vulgarity."

"James Young in 'Wanted—a Sister', appeared on Fifth Avenue. Mr. Young was billed alone for this vaudeville skit, but in justice to the others it would be better to bill the three names. Clara Kimball as the sweetheart showed a refreshing personality and acted quite naturally. Robert Strauss, as the roommate, showed up the best in the act. His actions and manner of speaking lines being very funny."  (January 1910)

Clara Kimball married James Young and became famous in the movies as Clara Kimball Young.

In March 1910 famous French-born American actress Valerie Bergere performed in The Lion Tamer, by Edward Weitzel, and Robert Strauss, Theodore Doucet, Lawrence Morten, Emma Campbell and several supported her. Strauss was famed for his work with James Young was promptly hired by Bergere to play the call boy. Robert W. Strauss (1912)A special scenic costume and prop production was made, which promised to be one of the biggest acts of it's kind in vaudeville.
By October 1910 "Robert Strauss and Players", performed (with as skit called Petticoats)  under management of Valerie Bergere. He continued this at least until March 1913. In 1912  he also reprised Wanted, a Sister with Young and Clara Kimball and two playlets A Hypnotic Spree, his own production and Of All the Nerve by H.S. Chamberlain Jr.

May 10. 1913 his father Samuel Strauss died in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Robert was in Chattanooga when the United States entered the first World War. He enlisted in the infantry and was commissioned a first lieutenant. He was with combat troops as first lieutenant of Company K, 323rd Infantry, (the famous Wildcat division) when he was cited for gallantry in action. On November 10, 1917, southeast of Verdun, his platoon reached its objective although under heavy fire for hours, and Lieutenant Strauss was cited for extraordinary gallantry. After the Armistice, Lieutenant Strauss organized a group of entertainers and was assigned to a tour of duty with troops who remained in France.

He did not see his native land again until 1919 when he became engaged for one of Shubert's plays called The Little Journey, with Fritz Lieber. In a chautauqua play called Nothing but the Truth he played Wilkie Collins' old role and in The Merchant of Venice (Dec 1920) Leiber played Shylock while Strauss was Launcelot. In the summer of 1921 he rejoined Fritz Lieber to head back home afterwards.

Back home in 1924 he played a production on the Chautauqua circuit with Dorothy Ellen Cole.

Comedy roles in a number of successes followed, but also Shakespearian roles with Robert Mantell and Fritz Leiber.
By 1928 Strauss re-appeared "completely pleasing" in The Merchant of Venice this time as Gobbo and that same year he was remarked tor his creation of a "cobbler" in Julius Caesar.

An early radio enthusiast, he entered that field and was soon writing his own skits and appearing in sustaining programs. Strauss was a familiar voice in quiet a few radio dramas from the 1930s amongst them Buck Rogers,... .

In 1932 he took the part of "Inchy Spencer" in The Stebbins Boys sketches on the radio. Parker Fennelly and Arthur Allen played their familiar roles of cantankerous old-timers with hearts of gold beating beneath grim exteriors. The cast was as follows: Esley Stebbins (Arthur Allen), John Stebbins (Parker Fennelly), Hobble Stevens (Harry Humphrey), Virginia Pennypacker (Adeline Thomason), and Inchy Spencer (Robert W. Strauss).

1933 The part of Tobias Winslow was played by Robert Strauss, Meeker by Junius Matthews, Yeager by Walter Soderling and Eddie Jackson, the newspaper photographer.

Cast of "Moonshine and Honeysuckle" Stanford, Ben Lackland (David), Theresa Whittler (Gypsy). Louis Mason (Clara), Ann Elstner (Cracker) Bradley Barker (Len Boyd and "Bones") and Sara Haden (Piney). Seated: Lulu Vollmer and Robert Strauss (1933).
Above: Cast of Moonshine and Honeysuckle Stanford, Ben Lackland (David), Theresa Whittler (Gypsy). Louis Mason (Clara), Ann Elstner (Cracker) Bradley Barker (Len Boyd and "Bones") and Sara Haden (Piney). Seated: Lulu Vollmer and Robert Strauss (1933).

The cast of Moonshine and Honeysuckle (NBC, 1933-1936). (see above) Robert Strauss played Pink. In 1936 following the success on radio Moonshine and Honeysuckle was also performed in theatres, directed by the author, Lulu Vollmer, it featured Robert Porterfield, Robert Strauss and Theresa Whittler in the cast.

Author Lula Vollmer, whose Moonshine and Honeysuckle ran for two years as a weekly radio dramatization returned to the air in 1934 with a serial comedy-drama of mountain folk Grits and Gravy. The episodes, described the adventures of Cahe Crump, a moseying, happy-go-lucky mountaineer who "gets the call" to be a preacher. With Cahe will be his wife, Sugar a son Lips, and other typical characters.  Robert Strauss, himself a native of the Tennessee mountains had the lead role. Others in the cast are Marjorie Mayne, William Anthony Janney, George Gaul, Fred Stuart and Peggy Paige.

Bob Strauss also played Nappy Beagle in Lulu Vollmer's Southern Mountaineer serial The Widow's Son. (1935-1936)

By March 29. 1937 Our Gal Sunday was announced as a new dramatic series based on the play in which Ethel Barrymore delivered her famous line "That's all there is, there isn't any more!". It was to be heard Monday through Fridays from 12:45 to 1:00 PM.  The sketches described the adventures that befell a young orphan girl and her two old guardians who devoted themselves to guiding her life in the environment of a modern mining town. Evelyn Abbott appeared in the title role.  Robert Strauss and Jay Jostyn were heard in the roles of  miner "Lively" and "Jackie," respectively.  Our Gal Sunday was broadcast on CBS from 1937 to 1959

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch premiered on CBS Feb. 4 1935. The soap moved to NBC a year later and end production Dec 23. 1938.  Between 1936 and 1938 Strauss got a recurring role as "Pa Wiggs".

In 1935 Hillbilly Heart-throbs (which premiered on May 22. 1933 aka Heart-throbs of the Hills) became Dreams of Long Ago (NBC Nov 6, 1935 - Nov 30. 1938) it was a drama based on old folk songs and was presented like a musical play. Starting Oct 10. 1937 Robert played about 20 episodes, the last one on Oct 9. 1938.

Still unmarried, in 1938, he purchased a home on the Cold Spring - Carmel Road about one quarter mile from Mckeel's Corners and made extensive alterations.

CBS broadcasted a 15 minute adventure called Howie Wing. Howie (1938) was a daring young air ace with the Cadet Aviation Corps who later became co-pilot for Capt. Harvey, the owner of a South American airline. In January, In January, 1939, Kellogg promoted "Howie Wing" by arranging the first dramatic broadcast in radio history made from an airplane, Howie Wing, a Saga of Aviation. (Jan 20, 1939) (L to R) Bill Janney (“Howie”), sound effects man Alexander Binnie, Helen Jacobson was the stewardess and actor Robert Strauss on an unspecified United Airlines airplane,  January 20, 1939.1939, Kellogg promoted Howie Wing by arranging the first dramatic broadcast in radio history made from an airplane, Howie Wing, a Saga of Aviation. (Jan 20, 1939). The cast included: William Janney (Howie Wing); Mark Parker (Donna Cavendish); Neil O'Malley (Capt.Harvey); Robert Strauss (Typhoon Tootel); Raymond Bramley (Burton York). Typhoon nears his half -century birthday, but he's still tops as a mechanic. He served under Harvey in the War, and has stuck closer than a brother ever since, even though the captain has tried to shake him off. As a new character in he furnishes the comedy relief in the show.

Above right:  In January, 1939, Kellogg promoted Howie Wing by arranging the first dramatic broadcast in radio history made from an airplane, Howie Wing, a Saga of Aviation. (Jan 20, 1939) (L to R) Bill Janney (“Howie”), sound effects man Alexander Binnie, Helen Jacobson was the stewardess and actor Robert Strauss on an unspecified United Airlines airplane, January 20, 1939.

In 1939 George Zachary, a young executive at CBS was playing with the idea of an hour long detective where the listeners could match their wits with the leading character in solving the riddle before he could. Fred Dannay & Manfred Lee provided the scripts for the hour long Adventures of Ellery Queen (1939-1940). Robert Strauss played the part of Doc Prouty during this first season. To prevent the plot leaking out Zachary would keep the final part a secret even to the actors who played in it. At the last dressed rehearsal all was revealed and it didn't take long for the actors to organize a pool, the winner being the one who unmasked the culprit. Ted de Corsia (Velie) and runner-up Robert Strauss were the most frequent winners.

On Sep 1. 1940 he was heard together with Jean Adair in  Home Remedies a morning radio show billed as "another Merritt P. Allen comedy".

Robert W. Strauss was found dead from carbon-monoxide gas in his car in the garage in the morning of Nov 11. 1940 by the caretaker of the estate Charles Harmon. Harmon last saw Strauss Saturday afternoon and discovered the Robert W. Strauss (1940)body when he returned to work. Robert Strauss had been living there alone for about one year and a half. Three notes were left by Mr. Strauss, giving financial reverses as the reason for the suicide.
One was addressed to Mr. Harmon, giving instructions for the care of the place; one with instructions to call the coroner, and the third to his family in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Strauss was born and lived most of his life.
Coroner David Cathcart, of Cold Springs, was called and Dr. Coryell Clark, medical examiner, who pronounced the man dead from carbon-monoxide poisoning. He is believed to have died on Nov 9. 1940. The coroner rendered a verdict of suicide by intent, and gave a removal order for the body to Cunningham funeral parlor in Cold Spring, where the body was shipped to relatives in Chattanooga.  He was buried there on November 14 with military honors. He was survived by a brother, a sister, both in Tennessee, two nephews, two nieces and a grandniece.

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Robert Strauss (1913-1975)  -- CLICK FOR MORE -- ...This actor profile is a part of Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Doc Prouty in the first radio series of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. Click Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!
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Page first published on Sep 17. 2017 
Last updated Sep 10, 2021 
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