My favorite actors of the silent era.

by drtrodphd | created - 07 Feb 2013 | updated - 07 Feb 2013 | Public

1. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...

2. Buster Keaton

Actor | The General

Joseph Frank Keaton was born on October 4, 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, to Joe Keaton and Myra Keaton. Joe and Myra were Vaudevillian comedians with a popular, ever-changing variety act, giving Keaton an eclectic and interesting upbringing. In the earliest days on stage, they traveled with a medicine ...

3. Lon Chaney

Actor | The Phantom of the Opera

Although his parents were deaf-mutes, Leonidas Chaney became an actor and also owner of a theatre company (together with his brother John). He made his debut at the movies in 1912, and his filmography is vast. Lon Chaney was especially famous for his horror parts in movies like e.g. Quasimodo in ...

4. Stan Laurel

Actor | Sons of the Desert

Stan Laurel came from a theatrical family, his father was an actor and theatre manager, and he made his stage debut at the age of 16 at Pickard's Museum, Glasgow. He traveled with Fred Karno's vaudeville company to the United States in 1910 and again in 1913. While with that company he was Charles ...

5. Oliver Hardy

Actor | Sons of the Desert

Although his parents were never in show business, as a young boy Oliver Hardy was a gifted singer and, by age eight, was performing with minstrel shows. In 1910 he ran a movie theatre, which he preferred to studying law. In 1913 he became a comedy actor with the Lubin Company in Florida and began ...

6. W.C. Fields

Actor | It's a Gift

William Claude Dukenfield was the eldest of five children born to Cockney immigrant James Dukenfield and Philadelphia native Kate Felton. He went to school for four years, then quit to work with his father selling vegetables from a horse cart. At eleven, after many fights with his alcoholic father ...

7. Harold Lloyd

Actor | Safety Last!

Born in Buchard, Nebraska, USA to Elizabeth Fraser and 'J. Darcie 'Foxy' Lloyd' who fought constantly and soon divorced (at the time a rare event), Harold Clayton Lloyd was nominally educated in Denver and San Diego high schools and received his stage training at the School of Dramatic Art (San ...

8. Rudolph Valentino

Actor | The Sheik

Hollywood's original Latin Lover, a term that was invented for Rudolph Valentino by Hollywood moguls. Alla Nazimova's friend,Natacha Rambova (nee Winifred Hudnut) became romantically involved with Rudy and they lived together in her bungalow, from 1921 (during the filming of Camille) until they ...

9. Jackie Coogan

Actor | The Kid

Jackie Coogan was born into a family of vaudevillians where his father was a dancer and his mother had been a child star. On the stage by four, Jackie was touring at the age of five with his family in Los Angeles, California.

While performing on the stage, he was spotted by Charles Chaplin, who then...

10. Erich von Stroheim

Actor | Sunset Blvd.

Erich von Stroheim was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in 1885, in Vienna, Austria, to Johanna (Bondy), from Prague, and Benno Stroheim, a hatter from Gleiwitz, Germany (now Gliwice, Poland). His family was Jewish.

After spending some time working in his father's hat factory, he emigrated to America ...

11. Lionel Barrymore

Actor | Key Largo

Famed actor, composer, artist, author and director. His talents extended to the authoring of the novel "Mr. Cartonwine: A Moral Tale" as well as his autobiography. In 1944, he joined ASCAP, and composed "Russian Dances", "Partita", "Ballet Viennois", "The Woodman and the Elves", "Behind the Horizon...

12. John Barrymore

Actor | Twentieth Century

John Barrymore was born John Sidney Blyth on February 15, 1882 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An American stage and screen actor whose rise to superstardom and subsequent decline is one of the legendary tragedies of Hollywood. A member of the most famous generation of the most famous theatrical ...

13. Harry Langdon

Actor | Tramp, Tramp, Tramp

Langdon first performed when he ran away from home at the age of 12-13 to join a travelling medicine show. In 1903 he scored a lasting success in vaudeville with an act called "Johnny's New Car" which he performed for twenty years. In 1923, he signed with Principal Pictures as a series star, but ...

14. Charley Chase

Actor | On the Wrong Trek

While Charley Chase is far from being as famous as "The Big Three" (Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd) today, he's highly respected as one of the "greats" by fans of silent comedy.

Chase (real name Charles Parrott) was born in Maryland, USA, in 1893. After a brief career in vaudeville,...

15. Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle

Actor | Leap Year

Roscoe Arbuckle, one of nine children, was the baby of the family who weighed a reported 16 pounds at birth. Born in Smith Center, Kansas, on March 24, 1887, his family moved to California when he was a year old. At age eight he appeared on the stage. His first part was with the Webster-Brown Stock...

16. Max Linder

Actor | Seven Years Bad Luck

Although all too frequently neglected by fans of silent comedy, Max Linder is in many ways as important a figure as Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd, not least because he predated (and influenced) them all by several years and was largely responsible for the creation of the classic ...

17. Douglas Fairbanks

Actor | Robin Hood

Douglas Fairbanks was born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman in Denver, Colorado, to Ella Adelaide (nee Marsh) and Hezekiah Charles Ullman, an attorney and native of Pennsylvania, who was a captain for the Union forces during the Civil War. Fairbanks' paternal grandparents were German Jewish immigrants, ...

18. Emil Jannings

Actor | The Last Command

His real name was Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz, and in the early 1900s, he was already working in the theater under Max Reinhardt's company. Important movies where he defined himself as a convincing actor were Passion (1919) and Quo Vadis? (1924), followed by The Last Laugh (1924)(aka The Last ...

19. Eric Campbell

Actor | The Vagabond

Campbell was born in Sale, Cheshire on 26th April 1880 and began acting as a boy. He married fellow music hall performer Fanny Gertrude Robotham on March 30, 1901 and was later hired by English music hall impresario Fred Karno for his "Fun Factory" comedy troupes that featured other comics like a ...

20. Edgar Kennedy

Actor | Duck Soup

Edgar Kennedy, who was born on April 26, 1890, near Monterey, California, hit the road as a young man and traveled across the country, working in a succession of jobs. He became a professional boxer, claiming to have gone 14 rounds against The Manassas Mauler, Jack Dempsey.

In addition to his ...

21. Wallace Beery

Actor | Dinner at Eight

In 1902, 16-year-old Wallace Beery joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant to the elephant trainer. He left two years later after a leopard clawed his arm. Beery next went to New York, where he found work in musical variety shows. He became a leading man in musicals and appeared on ...

22. Gibson Gowland

Actor | Greed

Gibson Gowland was born on January 4, 1877 in Spennymoor, Durham, England as Thomas Henry Gowland. He was an actor, known for Greed (1924), The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and Blind Husbands (1919). He was married to Rachelle Marie Gertrude Dervaes (pianist/actress) and Sylvia Andrew. He died on ...

23. John Gilbert

Actor | Flesh and the Devil

John Gilbert was born into a show-business family - his father was a comic with the Pringle Stock Company. By 1915 John was an extra with Thomas H. Ince's company and a lead player by 1917. In those days he was assistant director, actor or screenwriter. He also tried his hand at directing. By 1919 ...

24. Ramon Novarro

Actor | Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Ramon Novarro was born José Ramón Gil Samaniego on February 6, 1899 in Durango, Mexico, to Leonor (Gavilan) and Dr. Mariano N. Samaniego Siqueiros, a prosperous dentist. Ramon and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1913, as refugees from the Mexican Revolution. After stints as a ballet dancer, ...

25. Ben Turpin

Actor | Yankee Doodle in Berlin

First of all, the cross-eyed comedian of silent days was not born that way. Supposedly his right eye slipped out of alignment while playing the role of the similarly afflicted Happy Hooligan in vaudeville and it never adjusted. Ironically, it was this disability that would enhance his comic value ...



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