Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Charles Lane R.I.P

Character actor Lane died yesterday at age 102. If you think you don't know who he is. . .still, you do. His name is perhaps listed in more film cast lists than any other actor in the history of the cinema. But not only did I know him by sight, I even asked for his autograph one time by name, i.e. "S'cuse me, Mister Lane." A friend of mine (let's call him Beryl) was a DFC ("dumb effen cutter" B's phrase) on "The Lucy Show" on which Lane was a regular, and even B. didn't know Lane by name when I phoned up yesterday to tell him the sad but inevitable news. "Charles, who?" I explained. "Oh! That guy!"

He began his career as a stage actor, appearing in stock in the teens with the likes of John Barrymore. I've always found it fascinating that Lane figured out that he needed a nose job to make it in the movies. During his very first appearances on screen, he has a different and more prominent schnoz and looks quite differently. Maybe too mean. But with his somewhat slimmed-down new nose he came off just "crotchety," "bad-tempered," "miserly," "abrasive," "unscrupulous," "greedy." and "hatchet-faced" (adjectives used to describe him in his allmovieguide entry) enough.

Lane probably made out like a bandit during the halcyon days of character actors in movies and on TV. Sometimes worked as many as three jobs a day.

Apparently compus mentis right up till the very end, Lane even did some voiceover animation work a couple of years back. A fitting end for one of the founders of the Screen Actors Guild.

1 comment:

Lee Hartsfeld said...

I went to the Internet Movie Database, saw Charles' picture and had the same reaction ("THAT guy!").

One of those great character actors you'd swear was on everything, but somehow he only did one "Twilight Zone" (!!!) and not a single "Outer Limits" or "Mission: Impossible."

That doesn't seem right....