Stars of Slapstick # 103: Harry Watson, Jr.
Born in June 1876, Harry Watson, Jr. started out in circus, burlesque, vaudeville, and Broadway with a trio with George Bickel and Ed Lee Wrothe called Me, Him and I (later just Bickel and Watson). His Broadway career began in 1905 and culminated with featured slots in no less than five editions of the Ziegfeld Follies. From 1915 through 1917 he starred in a series of silent comedy shorts produced by George Kleine called “The Mishaps of Musty Suffer”. Watson’s comedy was extreme; he had an ugly, clownish puss, which he enhanced with the garb of a comical hobo tramp. In the wake of this series, he returned to Broadway briefly for Odds and Ends of 1917 and The Passing Show of 1921. In 1923, he returned to Hollywood to perform in another half dozen films, including Little Old New York with Marion Davies. After this he apparently retired. Accounts differ about when he passed on. Obituaries from 1930 are most probably for Watson’s father, also a performer (although IMDB continues to give that date). On the other hand, IBDB lists him as understudying for a show and 1956, and researchers at NYPL claim to have located photos of him from the late 1950s.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy please read: 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 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.