Today is the birthday of silent comedian Billy Franey (1889-1940). Starting out making Universal “Joker” comedies in 1914 (paired with Louise Fazenda, then Gale Henry). He was notable for his bushy mustache and messy appearance. Later he worked for Reelcraft and Joe Rock, and began playing supporting roles in features.
In the talking era he acted in a lot of B movie westerns. He became a regular in Edgar Kennedy comedies for RKO in 1937. He died of influenza in 1940.
Very few of Franey’s starring silent films survive. In lieu of one, you can see him as pop in this 1939 Edgar Kennedy Short Baby Daze. AND, you can order Ben Model’s swell new DVD Accidentally Preserved which features the 1920 Franey comedy The Water Plug. Learn more here.
To learn more about 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