Screen comedian and actor George “Slim” Summerville (1892-1946) was born on this day. A tall, lanky scarecrow of a character, Summerville was originally from New Mexico and raised in Oklahoma. He’d been a jack-of-all-trades, a day laborer and amateur actor when Edgar Kennedy discovered him and brought him to Keystone. His lack of clowning experience was more than compensated for by his pipe-cleaner-like extremities, tailor made for getting tied in knots.
Efforts to make him part of a starring team at Keystone would sputter. For a number of years he became a successful comedy director at Fox. Then his career as a character actor resumed with a vengeance in the late 1920s and kept him in demand until his early death in 1946 (often as a sidekick in westerns). In fact his visage may be better known to fans from his films of those later years:
During the 1930s he was teamed in many comedies with Zasu Pitts:
To find out more about silent and slapstick comedy, including the contributions of Slim Summerville, 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