Stars of Vaudeville #702: Knute Erickson
Today is the birthday of Knute Erickson (1872-1945). Though Erickson was of Swedish heritage, he wasn’t born there as he usually claimed, but in Ogden, Utah. He made his career in vaudeville and films as a kind of second tier El Brendel (if El Brendel can be said to be on a top tier.) Starting around the turn of the 20th century he developed his vaudeville character Daffy Dan, which persona he performed as in an act presented and produced by Jesse Lasky.
It has been claimed that Erickson’s first films were a series of two reelers by Broadway producer Harry Cort in 1915, but these do not show up in IMDB. His first recorded credit is Gasoline Gus, with Roscoe Arbuckle (1921) in which he played the character of “Scrap Iron” Swenson. Some three dozen films would follow including Roland West’s The Monster with Lon Chaney (1925), the 1930 version of The Spoilers and Frank Capra’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933). By the time of the latter film, he was down to playing uncredited bit parts and walk ons. His last role was in the adventure serial The Clutching Hand (1936).
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy please check out 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