A Gregory Wroblewski fan page
Coming from one of the distinguished acting families of
the Polish stage and screen, Wroblewski fled Poland with his
parents when the rumors of a German invasion circulated through
Warsaw. His parents were prevented from a more substantial career in
American films by their heavily accented speech, but Wroblewski came
to the U.S. as a young man, learned to speak like an American, and by
the end of the war was acting in juvenile roles in small
second-feature films. The critics called him the "grade B Roddy
McDowell". The great film critic of another day, James Agee,
elaborated: "Wroblewski, in fact, could easily be mistaken for
McDowell, except that he is really tall, and has a very deep voice,
and is a big bulky guy, and has no acting talent whatsoever"
His first Hollywood film was The Battlin' Bellhops, a partially fictionalized story about the legendary 603rd Airborne, which played such an important role in the liberation of Luxembourg. All of the members of that brave battalion of enlistees were former hotel bellmen, and most were just barely old enough to serve, yet they became lionized not only for their courage in battle, but for their steadfast unwillingness to accept tips from the liberated populations. They always stirred the Europeans when they marched into liberated towns wearing their little round red caps in lieu of standard military headgear. Wroblewski had the supporting role of Skeeter, the naive German-American kid from Brooklyn who got separated from his unit and was mistakenly shot by an American sentry. The MP heard Skeeter speaking German to the locals and became convinced he was a spy, a suspicion which turned into certainty when Skeeter could not correctly identify the name of the famous Brooklyn baseball team. His crusty "sarge" delivered the funeral oration, in which he declared Skeeter to be "a swell kid, and a real great American, even though he obviously wasn't much of a baseball fan."
Wroblewski also had a small role in the sequel, One Battlin' Bellhop, a short film about one member of the squad who continued his fighting ways after the war, but this time in the ring. This was based on the true story of Lefty "Big Ears" McGurk, pride of the 603rd, who was at one time the number three contender for the world flyweight title. Wroblewski played Skeeter in flashback scenes.
The big break that briefly launched Wroblewski to national prominence came just after the war when Bud Abbot fell suddenly ill before a big USO show in New York. Young Gregory jumped out of the chorus and told Lou Costello that he knew the part by heart, ultimately allowing the show to go on, and bringing joy to a war-weary America. In the skit, Wroblewski played General McArthur, and Costello played a grateful native Filipino. Their hilarious exchange of dialogue in the classic "Luzon First" skit is still played on TV time and again when the history of American wartime comedy is told.
Unfortunately, this youthful walk-on would be the highlight of his career. The end of the war signified the virtual end of Wroblewski's chances to break into A pictures. The real actors like Jimmy Stewart came back from Uncle Sam to Hollywood, so Wroblewski abandoned his dreams of stardom and resigned himself to using acting as a way to fill the table for his family. He acted in several additional sequels to the Battlin' Bellhop movies, always playing Skeeter in flashbacks, and he picked up whatever other work was available. Eventually, unable to break into top-line films, Wroblewski's career faltered with the disappearance of second features in the 60's, but his grade-b legacy is writ proud.
From 1970 until 1987, Wroblewski was in business, out of the entertainment world, and eventually ran various small to medium sized corporations until his retirement. When he stepped down as head of Wonder Salt, after managing it to the #5 spot among American salts, he re-entered show business as the head writer and sometime performer in the syndicated TV series, The Abominable Showman. The show lasted two seasons, after which Wroblewski moved to Hungary and attempted to open up an Eastern European division of Wonder Salt, with only sporadic success.
He's now superannuated and should be slowing down, but his complete lack of talent kept him from suffering any diminution of skills with age, so he now rides the internet as "Uncle" Scoopy, a character named after his greatest lead role, the Revolutionary War figure, Colonel Francis Scoopy, better known to subsequent generations of schoolchildren as The Swamp Chicken. Although Col. Scoopy and his men never fired a single shot, many historians say that their small battalion kept the British from absolute victory in the South with their "rope-a-dope" strategy of running away from the redcoats until the Brits simply got tired of following. Washington's devious strategy called for Scoopy's Chickens to exhaust the English, so that the regular Continental army could defeat them.
Most of you probably remember the theme song from their two movies. Along with The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island, it is one of the three best-remembered theme songs in entertainment history.