Edward G. Robinson (1893-1973) was an actor who specialized in tough-guy types. Although active on Broadway and in silent film since 1915, his true breakout came playing Rico in Little Caesar (1931). A string of other gangster parts followed, with Robinson waving a cigar and speaking out of the side of his mouth, punctuated with "see" (and at least in popular memory, "nyah").

Although he often returned to or parodied his gangster parts, Robinson avoided typecasting by playing an earnest physician (Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet), FBI agent (Confessions of a Nazi Spy), sea captain (The Sea Wolf), insurance adjuster Barton Keyes (Double Endemnity), and guilt-ridden father Joe Keller (the 1948 film of Arthur Miller's All My Sons). Later shifting into mostly supporting roles and cameos, he played skeptical, calf-worshipping Dathan in The Ten Commandments, a Nobel prize nominee in The Prize (with Paul Newman), the veteran poker player opponent in The Cincinatti Kid, and his final role, the old man who knows the secret of Soylent Green.


  • In the third season Muppet Babies episode "Back to the Nursery," the boss gangster in the 1920s scenes is a Robinson parody (also voiced by Welker).
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