Today is the birthday of Horace “Kewpie” Morgan (1892-1956). The 350 lb, 6’4″ Texas native usually played heavies in comedies (with the mustache he often sported he is easy to confuse with Oliver Hardy, who played similar roles in his early career). Starting out in vaudeville, he began to break into pictures in the early nineteen teens as an electrician, then as an extra. His first role was in the 1915 Lubin film Teasing a Tornado. Over the next 20 years he would work at nearly all the major and minor comedy studios with such comedians as Buster Keaton, Syd Chaplin, Harry Langdon, Larry Semon, Billy Bevan, Clark and McCullough, Bud Duncan, Dot Farley, and Monty Banks. One of his last roles was as Old King Cole in Laurel and Hardy’s Babes in Toyland (1936). Shortly after that, he retired back to his native Texas.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy film history see my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
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.