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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Comedy Back On The Road ...


Charley Chase Live and Smileage Guaranteed

Came across the above for a Charley Chase vaudeville turn after his 1936 dismissal from Hal Roach Studio. It's the first theatre ad I've seen for a Chase appearance onstage, one of a number he made in Eastern cities during and after 7/36, according to Variety. The Palace Theatre was in Cleveland, had been built for vaudeville, and seated 3,284 in its prime. Charley is referred to as heading the troupe, including upper-billed Little Jackie Heller, whose novelty was diminutive size (5'1") and fact he'd been a song star on radio, vaude stages, and with Ben Bernie's group. Not sure what Charley's act amounted to, but it may have been reprise of entertainment he supplied to Masquers Club membership back in Hollywood, Chase being active participant in shows they put on. Maybe Charley M.C.'ed the shows in way similar to his Hollywood Party short subject work in 1937 (that one available on DVD from Warner Archive).


Viola Richard
I took opportunity to again read the Chase chapter in Richard Roberts' outstanding book, Smileage Guaranteed: Past Humor,Present Laughter, which covers the output of Hal Roach and comedy stars who came to prominence at his Fun Factory. According to Roberts, Charley Chase was between berths at Roach and Columbia when he did the personal apps. There's plentiful detail in Smileage Guaranteed as to total arc of Charley's career from beginnings with Al Christie/Universal to wind-up at Columbia. Roberts' is by far the best summing up of Chase that I've read, and but one of chapters in a volume covering comics others have overlooked, including Snub Pollard, Glenn Tryon, Max Davidson, many more, plus distaff contrib of Martha Sleeper, Viola Richard (my favorite), Anita Garvin, and varied lovelies that enlivened single or two reels. The book is further loaded with rare stills, all selected for not having been used elsewhere. There is also an exhaustive filmography, the most detailed you'll find anywhere. Smileage Guaranteed is a resource I've used often, and will continue to consult for both facts and fun of reading. If enjoyment of Roach classics like Limousine Love, A Pair Of Tights, and Pass The Gravy have a text equivalent, it is this book.

5 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Was doing a vaudeville turn after being a movie headliner considered a step down, or just a horizontal career move for Chase?

11:54 AM  
Blogger Jan Willis said...

Nice timing on the Charley Chase coverage.
Today's his birthday,

9:10 PM  
Blogger Ed Watz said...

I second your endorsement of SMILEAGE GUARANTEED, John -- the essays are brilliant and Richard Roberts' extensive chapter on Charley Chase is the best assessment -- ever -- on the films of this great and neglected comedian.

6:41 AM  
Blogger William Ferry said...

@ Jan Willis: thanks for bringing up this great bit of trivia. Nice timing indeed! Ain't that a darb?

6:53 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Viola Richard!!! Be still my beating heart!love that shot... one of my all time faves also.

9:16 AM  

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