Wallace Beery dies of a heart attack in Beverly Hills, 1949. Beery was an unlikely leading man—hulking and homely, delivering his lines in a slow, sloppy manner, as if he just learned to speak. And he was, by many accounts, an unlikable man, devoid of manners and refinement and difficult to work with. His affection for Jackie Cooper (above right, with Beery) in The Champ (1931) was on display chiefly after the director yelled “Action!” and before he yelled “Cut!” Otherwise Beery, who won an Oscar for his performance, treated his diminutive costar like an unwanted dog. Painted as a loveable slob by studio publicity, he became immensely popular with audiences in films like Min and Bill (1930), Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933) and Treasure Island (1934).
“Two of the more trivial topics I never discuss,” Gloria Swanson once said, “are my marriage to Wallace Beery and those frozen dinners which have become famous with my name on them.” Swanson first met Beery on the set of Sweedie Goes to College (1915). They married in 1916, a union that lasted all of three weeks and was officially dissolved in 1919, doomed by Beery’s drinking and abuse towards Swanson. The actress remarked that Beery had been invited to every fashionable home in Beverly Hills…once.