This is one in a series of posts we are producing in connection with our new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, available from Bear Manor Media in February 2013.
Today is the birthday of professional heavy and character actor Otto Fries (1887-1938). Posterity might night know him best as the guy who sits in the barber chair in Monkey Business (1933) and gets his entire mustache taken off by Harpo and Chico one “snoop” at a time. A native of Kentucky, he started out in medicine shows and vaudeville before breaking into pictures around 1914 at Keystone. He seems to have worked at all the major comedy studios during the silent era: Sennett, Roach, Fox, Mermaid, Chrystie, Pathe. His greatest success appears to have been at Roach where he supported Laurel and Hardy, Charley Chase, Our Gang and Thelma Todd & Zasu Pitts. He continued on as a bit player in talkies until his early death at age 50.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.