Friday, July 2, 2010

More Charles Lane

Since I mentioned him yesterday, I started looking at his history in acting.  Charles Lane lived for 102 years, from 1905 to 2007.  He was an actor in film and later TV, for 75 of those years.

He started in 1931 acting in films as a desk clerk, salesman or reporter.  Usual fair for a new actor getting extra work or bit parts at $35 a day.  His face allowed him to create his dour character.  

Here is a quote from IMDb written by Gary Brumburgh that sums it up.  "Glimpsing even a bent smile from this unending sourpuss was extremely rare, unless one perhaps caught him in a moment of insidious glee after carrying out one of his many nefarious schemes. Certainly not a man's man on film or TV by any stretch, Lane was a character's character."  The full biography page can be seen here.

Lane was in four Busby Berkeley films, and
TEN Frank Capra films, including some of the best...Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take it with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Arsenic and Old Lace, It's a Wonderful Life, and State of the Union.

He must have acted with every big name in the movies, including four films with Jimmy Stewart, and many times with his good friend Lucille Ball.  He was also in three Blondie films with Penny Singleton.  Two are included in the set in the insert link at left.

I think he has made himself well known to baby boomers like me and even a younger crowd because of all of his television work.  It would be difficult to turn on a TV in the fifties and sixties and not see him on a sitcom somewhere!

And he kept on working.  In the seventies he was a regular on "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Bewitched" and "Soap."  And he appeared on other TV hits that decade, "The Rookies," "Rhoda" and "Maude."   In the eighties he was seen on Herman Wouk's "The Winds of War", and on "St. Elsewhere" and "LA Law."  He worked into the eighties and even into this millennium, but he slowed down a bit after he hit 90!

According to his bio page on IMDb he was a wonderful man in real life, and he remained married to his only wife, Ruth Covell, from 1931 until she died in 2002.  He was a class act all his life.


  1. I'd say you have my vote Allen, but can I make a suggestion.

    I like the idea of a blog focused on bit players, character actors, etc. However, a lot of the time people don't know these actors by name. If you showed them a picture they would know immediately who you were talking about. Especially if you can get them from disparate roles since the strength of these actors is often their range.

  2. Lane also had a supporting role in Howard Hawks' pre-Code screwball "Twentieth Century" (released in the spring of 1934, just before the Code became more strictly enforced), working with John Barrymore, Carole Lombard and Walter Connolly.

    BTW, I like this blog -- a wonderful perspective from which to view classic Hollywood!

  3. Thanks for the comments, Jump and VP. I would love to post pictures but I am new at this and unsure as to where I can obtain them without copyright problems. I don't have a collection of photos, and scanning them from books or copying from the web seems to be not quite Kosher.

    If you have any suggestions on what is allowed for picture posting, please send me an e-mail.

    Also, I have not seen Twentieth Century, so I have added it to my Netflix list. I can always use another screwball comedy!

  4. That's easy. There are numerous sources, but the best one is to take screenshots from the movie. Download VLC media player. Then put the DVD in your computer and play it. You will find that one of the options is to take a screenshot.

    For really high quality stuff this site can be helpful:


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