Today is the birthday of Richard Carle (1871-1941), a Renaissance man of American show business: vaudeville comedian, stage actor, playwright, producer, songwriter, and actor in silent and sound films.
A native of Somerville, Mass. (part of greater Boston), he broke into vaudeville around 1890 giving humorous stump speeches. He began appearing in melodramas and musical comedies regionally around the same time. During the first couple of decades of the twentieth century he was in close to dozen Broadway shows, many of which he had also written, directed and produced. He was not unlike Weber & Fields or George M. Cohan (whom he sometimes worked with), or many others in that regard, although his own shows tended to do better regionally than on Broadway. In his own shows he had also sung and his own songs and exercised his skills as an eccentric dancer; he incorporated these elements into his vaudeville act, which, incredibly he continued to tour with all these years. Meanwhile, as of 1915 he had begun appearing in films. During the silent era, he was given his deserved star status through 20 or so films.
Incredibly, though, in the talkie era (his last decade) he was most frequently a bit player or walk-on (incredible, given his former importance in the theatre).
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, including actors like Richard Carle, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold, and for early film history, check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media,