Charles Lane (actor)

Last updated
Charles Lane
Charles Lane actor.jpg
Born
Charles Gerstle Levison

(1905-01-26)January 26, 1905
DiedJuly 9, 2007(2007-07-09) (aged 102)
Resting placeHome of Peace Cemetery and Emanu-El Mausoleum in Colma, California
OccupationActor
Years active1930–2006
Spouse(s)
Ruth Covell Lane
(m. 1931;died 2002)
Children2

Charles Lane (born Charles Gerstle Levison; January 26, 1905 – July 9, 2007) [1] was an American character actor and centenarian whose career spanned 72 years. Lane gave his last performance at the age of 101 as a narrator in 2006. [2] Lane appeared in many Frank Capra films, including Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), You Can't Take It With You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Riding High (1950). He was a favored supporting actor of Lucille Ball, who often used him as a no-nonsense authority figure and comedic foe of her scatterbrained TV character on her TV series I Love Lucy , The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour and The Lucy Show . His first film of more than 250 was as a hotel clerk in Smart Money (1931) starring Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney.

Contents

Early life

Lane was born Charles Gerstle Levison to a Jewish family in San Francisco, California, to parents Alice (née Gerstle) and Jacob B. Levison.[ citation needed ] His father, an executive at the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, was instrumental in rebuilding San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake [3] of which Lane was one of the last remaining survivors.[ citation needed ]

Career

Lane spent a short time as an insurance salesman before taking to the stage at the Pasadena Playhouse. Actor/director Irving Pichel first suggested that Lane go into acting in 1929, and four years later Lane was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild. He became a favorite of director Frank Capra, who used him in several films. In It's a Wonderful Life , Lane played a seemingly hard-nosed rent collector. Lane also appeared in the film Mighty Joe Young (1949) as one of the reporters cajoling Max O'Hara (Robert Armstrong) for information about the identity of "Mr. Joseph Young", the persona given featured billing on the front of the building, on opening night.[ citation needed ]

Among his many roles as a character actor, Lane played Mr. Fosdick in Dear Phoebe , which aired on NBC in 1954–1955. He also portrayed mean-spirited railroad executive Homer Bedloe in the situation comedy Petticoat Junction . [2] He guest starred on such series as ABC's Guestward, Ho! , starring Joanne Dru, and The Bing Crosby Show , as well as the syndicated drama of the American Civil War, The Gray Ghost .[ citation needed ]

He was a good friend of Lucille Ball, and his specialty in playing scowling, beady-eyed, short tempered, no-nonsense professionals provided the perfect comic foil[ according to whom? ] for Ball's scatterbrained television character. He played several guest roles on I Love Lucy , including an appearance in the episode "Lucy Goes To the Hospital", where he is seated in the waiting room with Ricky while Lucy gives birth to their son. [2] He also played the title role in the episode "The Business Manager", the casting director in "Lucy Tells The Truth," and the passport clerk in "Staten Island Ferry." Lane appeared twice in The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour . He later had recurring roles as shopkeeper Mr. Finch on Dennis the Menace and during the first season (1962–1963) of Ball's The Lucy Show , playing banker Mr. Barnsdahl. According to The Lucy Book by Geoffrey Fidelman, Lane was let go because he had trouble reciting his lines correctly. However, Lane was in reality a placeholder for Ball's original choice, Gale Gordon, who joined the program in 1963 as Mr. Mooney after he was free from other contractual obligations.[ citation needed ]

In 1963, Lane appeared in the mega-comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World , playing the airport manager. (On the DVD commentary track, historian Michael Schlesinger wryly noted, "You do not have a comedy unless Charles Lane is in it.") His final acting role was at the age of 101 in 2006's The Night Before Christmas. His last television appearance was at the age of 90, when he appeared in the 1995 Disney TV remake of its 1970 teen comedy The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes , with Kirk Cameron. In 2005, the TV Land Awards paid tribute to Lane by celebrating his 100th birthday. Seated in a wheelchair in the audience, which had sung Happy Birthday to him, Lane was presented with his award by Haley Joel Osment and then announced "If you're interested, I'm still available [for work]!" The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Lane appeared in more than 250 films and hundreds of television shows and was uncredited in many of them. On his busiest days, Lane said he sometimes played more than one role, getting into costume and filming his two or three lines, then hurrying off to another set or studio for a different costume and a different role. [2] As for being typecast, Lane described it as "... a pain in the ass. You did something that was pretty good, and the picture was pretty good. But that pedigreed you into that type of part, which I thought was stupid and unfair, too. It didn't give me a chance, but it made the casting easier for the studio."[ citation needed ] Lane is recorded as having appeared in sixty-seven parts in a span of just two years, 1940 to 1942. [4]

Personal life

In 1931, Lane married Ruth Covell (1906-2002) and they remained together for 70 years until her death in 2002. They had a son named Tom and a daughter named Alice.

Despite his stern, hard-hearted demeanor in most of his film and television roles, friends and acquaintances have unanimously described Lane as a warm, funny and kind person. On January 26, 2007, Lane celebrated his 102nd birthday. He continued to live in the Brentwood home he bought with Ruth (for $46,000 in 1964) until his death. In the end, his son, Tom Lane, said he was talking with his father at 9 p.m. on the evening of Monday, July 9, 2007, [5] "He was lying in bed with his eyes real wide open. Then he closed his eyes and stopped breathing." Charles Lane was 102. He died from natural causes. Lane was not the only person in his family to have a long life; in 1973 his mother, Alice, died in her San Francisco home at the age of 100.

Filmography

1930s

1940s

1950s

1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

Related Research Articles

Franklin Pangborn American actor

Franklin Pangborn was an American comedic character actor famous for playing small but memorable roles with comic flair. He appeared in many Preston Sturges movies as well as the W. C. Fields films International House, The Bank Dick, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. For his contributions to motion pictures, Pangborn received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street on February 8, 1960.

Dick Elliott American actor

Richard Damon Elliott was an American character actor who played in over 240 films from the 1930s until the time of his death.

Jonathan Hale

Jonathan Hale was a Canadian-born film and television actor.

Leonard Mudie

Leonard Mudie was an English character actor whose career lasted for nearly fifty years. After a successful start as a stage actor in England, he appeared regularly in the US, and made his home there from 1932. He appeared in character roles on Broadway and in Hollywood films.

Howard Hickman

Howard Charles Hickman was an American actor, director and writer. He was an accomplished stage leading man, who entered films through the auspices of producer Thomas H. Ince.

George Meeker American actor

George Meeker was an American character film and Broadway actor who became more of a legend off-camera than on.

George Chandler

George Chandler was an American actor who starred in over 140 feature films, usually in smaller supporting roles, and he is perhaps best known for playing the character of Uncle Petrie Martin on the television series Lassie.

Samuel S. Hinds American actor

Samuel Southey Hinds was an American actor and former lawyer. He was often cast as kindly authority figures and appeared in over 200 films until his death.

Charles Halton

Charles Halton was an American character actor who appeared in over 180 films.

Edwin Stanley American actor

Edwin Stanley, was an American film actor. He appeared in more than 230 films between 1916 and 1946. He was born in Chicago, Illinois and died in Hollywood, California. On Broadway, Stanley appeared in This Man's Town (1930), The Marriage Bed (1929), and The Donovan Affair (1926). Stanley was also a playwright.

Olin Howland American actor

Olin Ross Howland was an American film and theatre actor.

Wallis Clark

Wallis Hensman Clark was a stage and film actor.

Cyril Ring was an American film actor. He began his career in silent films in 1921. By the time of his final performance in 1951, he had appeared in over 350 films, nearly all of them in small and/or uncredited bit parts.

Jack Rice was an American actor best known for appearing as the scrounging, freeloading brother-in-law in Edgar Kennedy's series of short domestic comedy films at the RKO studio, and also as "Ollie" in around a dozen of Columbia Pictures's series of the Blondie comic strip.

Selmer Jackson American actor

Selmer Adolf Jackson was an American stage film and television actor. He appeared in nearly 400 films between 1921 and 1963. His name was sometimes spelled Selmar Jackson.

Vinton Hayworth American actor

Vinton Hayworth, also known as Jack Arnold and Vincent Haworth, was an American actor, playwright and screenwriter who began in weaselly and milquetoast roles and aged into dignified character parts. He appeared in over 90 films during his career, as well as on numerous television shows. He is most likely best known for his final role, that of General Winfield Schaeffer in the fourth and fifth seasons of the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. He is the uncle of Rita Hayworth, as well as being the uncle of Ginger Rogers.

Charles David Tannen was an American actor and screenwriter. A general purpose actor who worked primarily at 20th Century Fox, he had mostly bit and/or supporting parts in movies, appearing in more than two hundred films, including Jesse James (1939), The Return of Frank James (1940), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), The Fly (1958), and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961).

Chick Chandler

Fehmer Christy "Chick" Chandler was an American film character actor who appeared in more than 130 films from 1925 through the mid-1950s. Chandler was known for his starring role as Toubo Smith in the Universal-produced 1955 syndicated television series Soldiers of Fortune.

Edward Keane was an American film actor. He appeared in more than 300 films between 1921 and 1955.

Charles Williams (actor)

Charles Williams was an American actor and writer. He appeared in over 260 film and television productions between 1922 and 1956. He also worked as a writer on 30 films between 1932 and 1954.

References

  1. "Charles Lane". Dead or Alive?. Kentix Computing. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Character Actor Charles Lane Dies at 102". Fox News Channel . July 10, 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  3. JWeekly: "Celebrity Jews" by Nate Bloom. July 20, 2007
  4. Berkvist, Robert (November 7, 2007). "Charles Lane, Hollywood Character Actor, Dies at 102". The New York Times . Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  5. Thomas, Bob (July 10, 2007). "Character Actor Charles Lane Dies". The Washington Post . Associated Press . Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  6. Great Movie Musicals on DVD - A Classic Movie Fan's Guide by John Howard Reid - Google search with book preview

Further reading