Friday, March 16, 2012

CHARACTER ACTORS of the 50'S & 60'S

     Character actors.  They’re the backbone of any good film or television show. They’re the faces that make us say “oh him again” or ask “don’t I know her from somewhere?  They can be depended upon to put in a solid performance all the time and yet they rarely, if ever, receive top billing.
            Some of my favorite films were flavored by character actors such as: Thelma Ritter, Clifton Webb, Elisha Cook, Martin Balsom, Spring Byington, S.Z. “Cuddles” Scakall, Ellen Corby, Walter Brennan, Andy Devine, Elsa Lanchester, Charles Coburn, Hattie McDaniel, Eve Arden, Mary Wickes, Jane Withers, William Frawley, Sam Levine, Richard Haydn, Ed Begley, Dame May Whitty…the list goes and on.
            Usually cast as second bananas, chauffeurs, cooks, detectives, elevator operators, and kindly aunts and uncles, these actors were the stuff of what movies were and are still made. Often, a character actor went on to become a lead as was the case with John Cassevetes. More often than not, they remained a supporting actor, lending the substance that a film needs in order to succeed with both critics and viewers.
            There are numerous contemporary character actors, such as John Goodman and Steve Bushemi, who serve this purpose and I hope to write an article about them eventually.
            Today, though, I thought I would focus specifically on those character actors of the fifties and sixties who appeared in countless television shows and films (think Disney movies as well as movies starring Jerry Lewis).
            See if you can match the description to the appropriate photo then scroll to the bottom for answers:

      1.   CHARLES LANE:  usually cast as a no-nonsense, mean, miserly, businessman or accountant.  

      2.  NANCY KULP:  frequently she was the spinster private secretary, playing just such a role in a hit sitcom of the sixties.

      3.  JESSE WHITE:  often seen in sitcoms, he later went on to receive fame as the spokesperson for a well known appliance.

      4.  FRANK NELSON:  the annoyed shop clerk, the frustrated neighbor. Known for his drawn out, “Yessssssssss?”

      5. JOHN FIELDLER:  his was the high pitched voice of Piglet in Winnie the Pooh..

      6. LOUISE BEAVERS:   usually relegated to the role of housekeeper, cook, or maid, she always appeared to do so cheerfully (at least according to script).

      7. BURT MUSTIN:   The ‘go to’ old man, Mustin didn’t begin his career until he was a senior citizen.

      8. RETA SHAW:   also cast as a servant, but a much more acerbic one than Beavers.

      9. KATHLEEN FREEMAN:   played a servant in a sitcom involving two ghosts and appeared in more than one Jerry Lewis film.

     10. FRED CLARK:  slimy politician, disgruntled store manager, baggy eyed and bald, he was a regular on the BURNS & ALLEN show


Good luck.


1C, 2B, 3E, 4J, 5F, 6D, 7A, 8I, 9G, 10H

How did you do?  Have a great weekend and thanks for joining me on this week's journey of RHODES LESS TRAVELED,



  1. That was a fun tribute to some favorite characters - I did pretty well - I got 8 out of 10. love 'em all!

  2. Your numbers and letter labels are not jiving.

  3. Thank you, Dingo. Will check it out.