Joseph Henry Wadsworth
WADSWORTH, JOSEPH HENRY (b. June 18, 1903, Maysville, Ky; d. December 5, 1974, New York City). Actor Joseph Henry Wadsworth was the son of John Gray and Ida Power Wadsworth. He grew up in the family’s large ancestral home, Buffalo Trace, built by his grandfather, Adna Wadsworth. After graduating from Maysville High School in 1921, Joseph attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He studied acting at the Carnegie Institute of Technology’s drama school in Pittsburgh, Pa. Using the stage name Henry Wadsworth, he appeared on the Broadway stage, in movies in Hollywood, and on television. He played several juvenile roles in films in the early 1930s, becoming known as “the perpetual juvenile” Wadsworth first appeared on Broadway in 1927 in the title role of Howard Lindsay’s Tommy. Two years later, he made his movie debut in Applause as a sailor on leave in New York City. The two best-known films in which he appeared were The Thin Man and the Oscar-winning It happened One Night, both released in 1934. His last film appearance was in the 1943 production of Silver Skates, and his last Broadway appearance was in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 1950 musical The Happy Time.
After World War II, Wadsworth traveled to Japan to entertain American troops stationed there. During his acting career he also served as administrator of the Motion Picture Health and Welfare Plan and as president of the American Federation of Labor Film Council.
Late in life, he turned to designing theater costumes while living in New York City, During summers he returned to his childhood home, Buffalo Trace. Wadsworth died in New York City in 1974 and was buried in the Maysville Cemetery in Maysville, Ky.
Calvert, Jean, and John Klee. Maysville, Kentucky: From Past to Present in Pictures. Maysville, Ky. Mason Co. Museum, 1983. . The Towns of Mason County. Their Past in Pictures. Maysville, Ky: Maysville and Mason Co. Library Historical and Scientific Association, 1986.
“Henry Wadsworth, Stage, Film Actor.” NYT December 7, 1974, 32.
Maysville Public Ledger December 6, 1974, 1.
Thomas S. Ward
Above excerpted from page 922 of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTHERN KENTUCKY THE UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KENTUCKY ISBN 978-0-8131-2565-7