Films of Emil Sitka: RADIO ROMEO (1947)
by Saxon E. Sitka
Emil's role in RADIO ROMEO, yet another Columbia Pictures comedy, was a small one. He plays a Swedish janitor named "Swenson" with only one line to say. As short as his appearance on-screen is, his diary entry for Tuesday, August 5, 1947 is even shorter:
I went to Darmour Studio to work in Harry Von Zell's comedy for Columbia Studio.
The storyline has Harry Von Zell running from a hotel detective named "Bailey," played by Dick Wessel.
At one point, the detective thinks Emil/Swenson is actually Von Zell in disguise, so he sneaks up and grabs him. They tangle for several moments as mops and buckets go flying. The scene depicted in the still photo shows the moment Wessel realizes he's got the wrong guy and says, "Oh, it's you!" Emil responds with, "You was expecting mayby Al Yolson?!"
As Wessel runs off the find Von Zell, Emil isn't content to just scratch his head, as in the script. Dropping his bucket, it lands on his foot, evoking a final howl of pain and exasperation. For a "bit" with only one line, Emil made the most of this small role.
The star of RADIO ROMEO, Harry Von Zell, is best known for playing the TV announcer on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
for seven years ending in 1958. Prior to that, Von Zell appeared in his own series of eight Columbia shorts and a handful of feature films.
Von Zell achieved notoriety for one of radio's most famous "flubs." Reportedly, in 1931 a young and nervous Harry Von Zell was introducing then-President Herbert Hoover. After reading a long preamble that had him saying the President's name at least twenty times, near the end of the introduction, he tripped up and called him, "Hoobert Heever, " much to his on-air embarrassment.
RADIO ROMEO was Von Zell's fourth Columbia short. His series went on for a total of eight films with Emil appearing in all eight.
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RADIO ROMEO (1947)