I'm afraid I missed this guy's birthday by a few days, as it was on July 8th. But a belated Happy Birthday nonetheless to Marty Feldman, one of the funniest characters to grace the movie screens in both Hollywood and his native England. Though Marty had an unfortunate defect of the eyes, he was able to turn this bizarre physical trait into a successful career as a much beloved screen comic. In order to draw this sketch, I watched him in 1975's The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, where he costarred alongside actor (and first-time director) Gene Wilder. In truth, it's a pretty weak film, although it boasts some quite nice atmospheric visuals and lush colour. Also, it was shot in England, thereby giving them easy access to some terrific British character actors, including Leo McKern (as Prof. Moriarty), John Le Mesurier, and Roy Kinnear.
Much better of course was the film where Wilder and Feldman had first costarred together the year before: Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, considered now to be a comedy classic. Marty Feldman played the assistant, "Igor", (humourously pronounced "Eye-gor", as Feldman points out when his character is first introduced), whose hump seems to migrate between the left and right side of his back. This was the film that firmly established Feldman as a screen comedian in America, although he'd already been a big star on British TV for a number of years. One very bizarre film that I recommend seeing him in is The Bed Sitting Room, a darkly funny, post nuclear holocaust film, where Marty Feldman plays a female nurse that has mutated into...well... a bug-eyed little man!
Sadly, Marty Feldman left this world far too soon back in 1982, the victim of shellfish poisoning that triggered a massive heart attack while he was in the midst of shooting his final film, Yellowbeard. He was only 49 when he died.