Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy birthday Charley!!!

115 years ago today, one of my favorite comedians was born Charles Joseph Parrott in Baltimore, Maryland. In time, after stints at Christie and Keystone Studios and a series at Hal Roach where he went by the name Jimmy Jump, Mr. Parrott would entertain the world as Charley Chase.

The first Charley comedy I ever saw was "Mighty Like A Moose" (1926) and I was hooked. Not just a gifted actor, Charley was a talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and those skills were shown in many of his shorts. He directed many of his own films while at Roach Studios and when he moved on to Columbia Pictures he would helm films by Andy Clyde, Walter Catlett and Columbia's most valuable asset, The Three Stooges.

Some of his films are accessible on DVD's including an excellent 2 volume set from Kino Video and next year All Day Entertainment will be releasing a 4 DVD set of Chase films from 1914-1925. It's a shame that the can't be said for his later silents and talkies at Roach as that's where Charley REALLY hit his stride, but they are shown from time to time on Turner Classic Movies so keep an eye out!

In 1937 he went to make shorts for Columbia, which showed a decline in quality but are still FUN to watch and there is a strong rumor that next year we will see a release of ALL of them on DVD, much like the Buster Keaton 65th Anniversary Collection we saw in 2006.

An unrepentant alcoholic during much of his professional life, multiple hospitalizations couldn't slow that addiction down and many feel that led to his early death from a heart attack on June 20th, 1940 at age 46. If you want to learn more about Charley's wonderful career and life I suggest you pick up the book "Smile When The Raindrops Fall" by Brian Anthony. It is a great read and has a pretty thorough filmography.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great pictures and a well-deserved tribute to the great Charley Chase.
Good job!
---- Rich Finegan