click on photo to go back ...

Appeared on radio showRobert W. Strauss (March 28. 1879 - Nov 9. 1940)
No marriages

Norah (b. 1870),
Samuel Albert (b. Oct. 12 1872 - Nov 22. 1941), married
      to Lida Grace Detrick, children Robert & Barbara.
Eleanor aka "Nell(ie)" (b. Jan 1875 - 1964) married
      to Edward Davidson, daughter Margaret (1911-13)
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 28. 1879 in Chattanooga, Tennessee as youngest of 4 children to Samuel (a bookkeeper and son to a German immigrant) and Tennesee B. Browning aka Tennie (daughter of Squire I. J. Browning and Clara Everett aka Caroline Crouch).

Bobby 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 (Harlem Opera House - Garrick Theatre - Hudson Theatre, Apr. 18. - May 1904), starring Henry Miller and Margaret Anglin.

As of 1906 (into 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.

When the graduation took place in Baylor's University school (corner of Vine and Palmetto streets) on May 27. 1907 several alumni were invited. Robert W. Strauss, who by then had made quite a name in the theatrical world, gave a recitation.

It was with James Young he made his first professional appearance in Chattanooga in Brown of Harvard during the 1908 season. It was at the really fine Eleventh Street Theater that at first bore the name of Schubert.

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, who appeared in a college farce called When Love Is Young, by James' wife Rida Johnson Young (Grand Opera House, Pittsburg, Pa., May 3. 1909). She reused the three main characters from her previous play Brown of Harvard.

"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."
(Variety, Review -When Love is Young, May 1909)

Later that month, the company also tried out another skit Wanted - a Sister again written by his wife it initially featured James Young, Robert Strauss and Lorayne Osborne.

"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."  (The New York Dramatic Mirror, January 22. 1910)

In March 1910 famous French-born American actress Valérie Bergère performed in The Lion Tamer, by Edward Weitzel, and Robert Strauss, Theodore Doucet, Lawrence Morten, Emma Campbell and several supported her. Strauss famed for his work with James Young was promptly hired by Bergère to play the call boy. A special scenic costume and prop production was made, which promised to be one of the biggest acts of it's kind in vaudeville.

In Chicago, the latter part of August 1910 Robert engaged James Ross and Lawrence Sparks for his new vaudeville sketch Wanted, a Cook, which opened on the interstate circuit.

Robert W. Strauss (1912)By October 1910 "Robert Strauss and Players" performed (with a skit called Petticoats)  under management of Valérie Bergère. He continued this at least until March 1913. In 1911 Mr. Strauss featured his own production Beaten Biscuit, a farcial story of college life, (Airdome Theater, Princess Theater Youngstown). In August 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.

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

Julia Neville organized as stock company to play at the Lyric Theatre in Chattanooga under the name of the Julia Neville Players. Bobby Strauss was a member. Their opening play was The Rejuvenation of Aunt Mary (January 1914).

Martin J. Dixon leased the Hart's Family theater, Philadelphia for 10 weeks to install a stock company with both Bob Strauss and Julia Neville in the cast. For it's opening play on Oct. 18 1914 "the home of sensational melodramas" brought The Game of Life, which was followed the next week by The Eleventh Hour.

Robert was back in Chattanooga when the United States entered the first World War. He enlisted in the infantry in 1917 and was commissioned a first lieutenant at Fort Oglethorpe. 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.

His mother passed away on March 17. 1919 in Chattanooga.

Above: Add for Bobby Strauss "At Liberty" in Variety Sep 1919.

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.

Lieutenant Bobby Strauss revived his old comedy sketch, Landing the Contract, which he had performed seven years earlier (February 1920).

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.

Fritz Leiber and his company would play a series of Shakespeare plays in the Lexington Theater, Robert had a role in each:

Macbeth (Dec. 26. 1921 - Jan. 6. 1922, 3 performances) as a drunken porter,
Romeo and Juliet (Dec 26. - Dec 29. 1921, 3 performances) as Peter,
Hamlet (Dec. 27. 1921 - Jan. 4. 1922, 2 performances) as a gravedigger,
The Taming of the Shrew (Dec 28. 1921 - Jan 4. 1922, 2 performances) as Grumio (Petrucio's servant),
Julius Caesar (Dec 30. 1921 - Jan. 7. 1922, 2 performances) as first citizen,
The Merchant of Venice (Dec 31. 1921 - Jan 2. 1922, 2 performances) as Lancelot Gobbo,
Richard III (Dec 31. 1921, 1 performance) as Lord Mayor of London,
Othello (Jan 2. - Jan 5. 1922, 2 performances) as Gratiano, brother to Brabantio,
Five Acts from Five Plays (Romeo & Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar) (Jan. 2. 1922, 1 performance).

Roseanne (Greenwich Village Theatre, Dec 29. 1923 - Feb. 1. 1924) as Alec Gray.

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

Ethel Bennett produced several traveling companies for the Redpath Circuit. One company, which included Robert Strauss, played Six Cylinder Love they opened April 23. 1924 in Dalton, Ga. and played seventeen weeks. 

The Book of Charm (Comedy Theater New York, Sep 3. - Oct. 1. 1925) had Strauss playing Doctor Garfield.

Comedy roles in a number of successes followed, but also Shakespearian roles with Robert Mantell and Fritz Leiber with the Chicago Civic Shakespeare Society.
In March 1928 Strauss re-appeared "completely pleasing" in The Merchant of Venice (Shubert Theatre) again as Launcelot Gobbo and that same year he was remarked for his creation of a "cobbler" in Julius Caesar.

The Merchant of Venice  (Chicago Civic Shakespeare Society, Shubert Theatre, Mar. 25. 1930) as Gobbo,
Hamlet (Sam S. Shubert Theatre, Mar. 24. - Apr. 12. 1930) as gravedigger,
The Merchant of Venice  (Chicago Civic Shakespeare Society, Ambassador Theatre, Dec 29. 1930) as Gobbo,
King Lear
(Ambassador Theatre, Dec 25. - Dec 31. 1930) as old man.

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 the 25th Century (CBS), ... .

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).

On the Eno program (April 25.- 26. 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 by himself. 

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).

In the cast of Moonshine and Honeysuckle (NBC, 1933-1936). (see above) Robert Strauss played Pink.

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 sketch/serial The Widow's Son (1935-1936).

 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.

When the new play Having a Wonderful Time opened at the Lyceum in New York on February 20, 1937, Bob Strauss had a minor part as one of the Berkshire camp guests, also known as "the hillbillies of the Bronx."

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 ended production on Dec 23. 1938.  Between 1936 and 1938 Strauss got a recurring role as "Pa Wiggs".

CBS wound up it's Shakespeare Cycle with "Twelfth Night" (CBS, August 30. 1937) and a star studded cast: Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Menken, Cedric Hardwicke, Orson Welles, Estelle Winwood, Robert Strauss, Burford Hampden, Ray Collins, Sydney Smith and Mark Smith.

Eugene O'Neill presented 4 dramas in The O'Neill Cycle (NBC-Blue). The second play "Beyond The Horizon", with Margale Gillmore & James Meighan was described as being "a standout", although Robert Strauss "overdid the age of the uncle". On August 16. 1937 they presented "Where the Cross is Made" supported by Parker Fennelly, Helen Choat and Robert Strauss.

When radio's The Adventures of Jungle Jim restarted in August 1937 Ed McDonald and Bob Strauss were new members of the cast.

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.

When Casey Jones (Fulton Theatre, Feb 19. - Mar 1. 1938) was performed on Broadway it included Strauss as "Jones".

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.

The Magical Key (Blue) was a musical variety show which on June 11. 1939 had the comedy sketch "The Tridget of Greva" with Parker Fennelly, Mark Smith and Bob Strauss.

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 (CBS, Jun 18. 1939 - Feb 18. 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.

Bobby Strauss replaced Parker Fennelly as Lem Stacy on Your Family and Mine (NBC, Aug 22. 1939 - Apr. 26. 1940).

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 (1940)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 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; another had instructions to call the coroner, and the third was a note 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.

* In the 1904 yearbook for Lehigh University, he is mentioned with the course abbreviation "Met." His residences are listed as 431 Cherokee St., South Bethlehem, and 418 Cherry Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was an undergraduate member in 1904 (Delta Upsilon) and a member of the Lehigh University Mandolin Club (First Mandolin '04).

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

All dates for movies are for the official US release.
All dates for TV programs are original first airdates.
All dates for (radio) plays are for the time span the actor was involved.

Facts in red still need confirmation.

Click on Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!  Click if you think you can help out...!

Other references
(1) OTRRPedia (09/2017 wrong dates for birth and death)
(2) Find a Grave

(4) IBDB (for the period until 1940)

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...!
Many of the profiles on this site have been compiled after very careful research of various sources. Please quote and cite ethically!

Previously it was wrongly assumed another actor by the same (Robert Strauss) played this role. We also like to offer you his profile here (click on his picture for more....)

Page first published on Sep 17. 2017 
Last updated May 22. 2024 
 b a c k    t o   L i s t  o f  S u s p e c t s

Introduction | Floor Plan | Q.B.I. | List of Suspects | Whodunit?  | Q.E.D. | Kill as directed | New | Copyright 

Copyright ©  MCMXCIX-MMXXIV   Ellery Queen, a website on deduction. All rights reserved.