I have been trying to get a search box on this site so you can enter a word and find it on any page in Bit Part Actors. Google has this neat application to build one, so I did. The only trouble is, it doesn't seem to work! I will keep trying, but in the mean time, I apologize if you have a problem with it. If you know a solution, please let me know! E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks. On to my topic du jour.
There was a movie that I saw many years ago called The Big House. It was made in 1930 and is about life in a prison. Well, the story is a bit more complicated than that, but in 1930 the movies weren't very complicated. I remember it as being very gritty. Wallace Beery, Chester Morris and Robert Montgomery star. Wallace Beery's nephew, Noah Beery, Jr. had a bit part in it at just 17 years old. Much later in his career he co-starred with James Garner on TV in "The Rockford Files."
One of the names down low on the list, playing Uncle Jed, was Tom Kennedy. There you go, the quintessential bit actor, and one of my favorites. Tom lived from 1885 to 1965. He has 355 roles listed on IMDB, from 1915 to 1965. He just didn't know when to quit.
Can you imagine the changes Kennedy witnessed in that lifetime? Making the early silent films, many sound shorts and features, and finally to TV roles. In his first twenty one years he was in 159 films, making 15 in 1931 and again in 1932. He worked for Hal Roach so you will see him with Laurel and Hardy, and also in one silent in 1922 with Stan Laurel and no Ollie. He also worked with W. C. Fields and the Marx brothers.
He had a small part in 42nd Street in 1933. He appeared in a series of movies in the 1930s based on a character named Torchy Blane. I am unfamiliar with them, but will try to do some research. He was in one Blondie film with my friend Penny Singleton. Many times he played a cop or detective.
How about Man of a Thousand Faces and Some Like it Hot? He was in both, but just bit parts. A lot of TV roles followed, and at age 80, Tom left us. I will continue to look for Tom in pretty much everything, and I hope you will look for The Big House and enjoy it as well. Tom is remembered for his bit parts, so he needs to be held up high on my blog!