Charles Barton (director)

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Charles Barton
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Charles Thomas Barton

(1902-05-25)May 25, 1902
San Francisco, California, United States
DiedDecember 5, 1981(1981-12-05) (aged 79)
Burbank, California, United States
  • film actor
  • vaudevillian
  • film director
Years active1920–1971
  • Nancy Barton (died 1951)
Lee Barton
(div. 1958)
Family Henry Barton (descendant)

Charles Barton (May 25, 1902 December 5, 1981) was an American film and vaudeville actor and film director. He won an Oscar for best assistant director in 1933. [1] His first film as a director was the Zane Grey feature Wagon Wheels , starring Randolph Scott, in 1934.


Barton worked in Hollywood B-movie units. From 1946, he was a principal director of the Abbott and Costello comedies, such as The Time of Their Lives , Buck Privates Come Home, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and Africa Screams . He later directed Walt Disney films such as The Shaggy Dog and Toby Tyler . His extensive work for television included every episode of Amos 'n' Andy in the 1950s, a total of 90 episodes of Dennis the Menace in the 1960s, and 106 episodes of Family Affair from 1967 to 1971. One obituary said he directed 580 television episodes, 70 feature films and dozens of commercials. [2]

Early life and career

Through an entirely paternal line Barton was a direct descendant of the Sheriff of London, Henry Barton. Charles Barton began acting at the age of thirteen. He worked on stage and was signed to United Artists where he starred in The County Fair (1921). [3] He grew to five foot two inches, and his height limited the amount of work he could get so in the mid 1920s Barton decided to move into directing. [2] In 1927, Barton worked as an assistant director on Wings (1927), directed by William Wellman; he also played a small role.

Barton was an assistant director for some years before directing Wagon Wheels for Paramount Pictures in 1934. In 1935, Paramount awarded him a long-term contract helming four pictures a year thereafter for the studio until 1937. [4] During his time at Paramount, Barton returned to acting briefly for Wellman's Beau Geste (1939).

In May 1939, he joined Columbia Pictures who assigned him to direct Behind Prison Gates , starring Brian Donlevy. He directed a total of 34 features for Columbia through the first half of 1944, including comedian Joe Besser's first starring feature film with Ann Miller for Columbia, Hey Rookie (1944). Joe Besser called him "one of the great comedy directors". [3]

In August 1944, Barton was signed by Universal Pictures to a term deal as producer-director directing 14 features over the next eleven years, including the first of six feature-length Abbott and Costello comedies starting in 1946 with The Time of Their Lives .

In 1948, Barton directed Abbott and Costello in the first of two independently-produced features, The Noose Hangs High , for Eagle-Lion, and then, in 1949, Africa Screams for Nassour Studios, marking the only film appearance of Joe Besser and Shemp Howard together in supporting roles, each of whom were at one time members of The Three Stooges comedy team.

Overall, Barton directed nine Abbott and Costello films, including their last movie as a team, Dance with Me, Henry , in 1956. [5]


Barton's wife of seven years, Nancy, died at their home in 1951 after a two year illness. [6]

In 1958, during divorce proceedings with his new wife Lee, Barton claimed he earned a net figure of US$2,000 (equivalent to $20,300in 2022) a month. [7]

Barton was married to actress/singer Julie Gibson from 1973 until his death from a heart attack in 1981. He died at the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. [2]

Selected filmography



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  1. "The 6th Academy Awards (1934) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 "Charles Barton, Noted Director in Films, TV". The Washington Post . December 12, 1981. p. B6.
  3. 1 2 Glass, Jeff (December 14, 1981). "Short Actor Created Long Career Directing Comedies". Los Angeles Times . p. C2.
  4. Scheuer, Philip K. (August 18, 1935). "A Town Called Hollywood". Los Angeles Times . p. A1.
  5. "Alfred Hitchcock Plans Two Features". Los Angeles Times . June 4, 1956. p. A8.
  6. "Film Director's Wife Succumbs". Los Angeles Times . January 20, 1951. p. A16.
  7. "Director and Bride Urged to Reconcile". Los Angeles Times . September 6, 1958. p. B1.