Stars of Slapstick #120: Charlie Murray
Charlie Murray hailed from Indiana but became known in Hollywood for playing a direct-from-Ireland Irishman. Born on this day in 1872, he started off in circuses and then performed as one half of the vaudeville comedy team Mack and Murray. In 1912 he started acting in silent pictures, first for Biograph, then for Mack Sennett, where angry fathers and similar characters were his specialty (initially he was billed simply as “Hogan”). 1925 was a sort of turning point: not only did he play the title character in the silent version of The Wizard of Oz, but he also starred in the first in a series called The Cohens and the Kellys that was to last well into the sound era (he was of course a Kelly). For a guy who made a couple of hundred pictures he is sadly obscure today. His son Charlie Murray, Jr. was also a character actor.
For more on the history of silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss 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 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.