With his slicked back hair and thin moustache Erik Rhodes arrived in Hollywood to recreate his stage role of Rudolfo Tonetti (which he had performed first on Broadway and then in London, 1932-1933) for the filming of The Gay Divorcee (1934), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Contrary to his screen image, Erik was born in Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Oklahoma where he won a scholarship to study acting in New York. He made his theatrical debut, delivering eight lines, in the 1928 play 'A Most Immoral Lady', under his birth name Ernest (sometimes spelled Earnest) Sharpe. Because of his good baritone voice, he was next cast in two musicals. An expert mimicker of accents and dialects, he came to specialise in films as the perennial hyperactive continental charmer. In his second notable screen outing, Top Hat (1935), he played flamboyant dressmaker Alberto Beddini, famously declaring to Ginger Rogers "All my life I have promised my dresses I'd take them to Italy...and

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