Charles Coburn

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Charles Coburn
Charles Coburn, actor, USA, at Kastrup Airport CPH, Copenhagen.jpg
Coburn at Kastrup Airport CPH, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1956
Born(1877-06-19)June 19, 1877
Macon, Georgia, U.S.
DiedAugust 30, 1961(1961-08-30) (aged 84)
New York City, U.S.
Years active1901–1960
Political party Republican
(m. 1906;died 1937)

Winifred Natzka
(m. 1959)

Charles Douville Coburn (June 19, 1877 – August 30, 1961) was an American actor. [1] He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award three times in The Devil and Miss Jones (1941), The More the Merrier (1943), and The Green Years (1946) winning for his performance in The More the Merrier. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 for his contribution to the film industry.



Charles Coburn in Road to Singapore (1940) Charles Coburn in Road to Singapore trailer.jpg
Charles Coburn in Road to Singapore (1940)

Coburn was born in Macon, Georgia, [2] the son of Scotch-Irish Americans Emma Louise Sprigman (May 11, 1838 Springfield, Ohio – November 12, 1896 Savannah, Georgia) and Moses Douville Coburn (April 27, 1834 Savannah, Georgia – December 27, 1902 Savannah, Georgia). Growing up in Savannah, he started out at age 14 doing odd jobs at the local Savannah Theater, handing out programs, ushering, or being the doorman. By age 17 or 18, he was the theater manager. [2] [3] He later became an actor, making his debut on Broadway in 1901. Coburn formed an acting company with actress Ivah Wills in 1905. [2] [3] They married in 1906. In addition to managing the company, the couple performed frequently on Broadway.

Trailer for Rhapsody in Blue (1945) Charles Coburn in Rhapsody in Blue trailer.jpg
Trailer for Rhapsody in Blue (1945)

After his wife's death in 1937, Coburn relocated to Los Angeles, California and began film work. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a retired millionaire playing Cupid in The More the Merrier in 1943. He was also nominated for The Devil and Miss Jones in 1941 and The Green Years in 1946. Other notable film credits include Of Human Hearts (1938), The Lady Eve (1941), Kings Row (1942), The Constant Nymph (1943), Heaven Can Wait (1943), Wilson (1944), Impact (1949), The Paradine Case (1947), Everybody Does It (1950), Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952), Monkey Business (1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), and John Paul Jones (1959). He usually played comedic parts, but his roles in Kings Row and Wilson showed his dramatic versatility.

For his contributions to motion pictures, in 1960, Coburn was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6268 Hollywood Boulevard.

Political activity

Charles Coburn with Helen Walker in Impact (1949) Charles Coburn-Helen Walker in Impact.jpg
Charles Coburn with Helen Walker in Impact (1949)

In the 1940s, Coburn served as vice-president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group opposed to leftist infiltration and proselytization in Hollywood during the Cold War. [4] Born and raised in the southern state of Georgia, Coburn was a member of the White Citizens' Councils, a white supremacist group which opposed racial integration. [5] [6]

A staunch Republican, Coburn supported Thomas Dewey in the 1944 United States presidential election. [7]

Personal life

Coburn married Ivah Wills (born August 19, 1878) on January 29, 1906 in Atlanta, Georgia. They had six children. [8] Ivah died on December 3, 1937 in New York City of congestive heart failure, aged 59.[ citation needed ] The 82 year-old Coburn married Winifred Natzka on June 30, 1959 in Los Angeles. She was the widow of the New Zealand bass opera singer Oscar Natzka. They had one child, [8] a daughter.

Coburn died of a heart attack on August 30, 1961, at age 84 in New York City. Winifred moved to New Zealand.

Complete filmography

Radio appearances

1946 Academy Award The Devil and Miss Jones [9]

See also

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  1. Obituary Variety , September 6, 1971.
  2. 1 2 3 "Charles Coburn (1877–1961)". The New Georgia Encyclopedia.
  3. 1 2 "Charles Coburn Collection". University of Georgia Libraries – Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
  4. Doyle Greene, The American Worker on Film: A Critical History, 1909-1999 (Jefferson NC: MacFarland, 2010), 80-82. ISBN   9780786457762
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "The Bend Bulletin from Bend, Oregon on June 13, 1959 · Page 5".
  7. Critchlow, Donald T. (October 21, 2013). When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. ISBN   9781107650282.
  8. 1 2 "Oscar Profile #104: Charles Coburn". CinemaSight. September 20, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  9. "Charles Coburn Is 'Academy' Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 19, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved September 29, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg

Further reading