Slim Summerville: Comedy Scarecrow

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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.

“Are Waitresses Safe?” (1917). That’s him in the window of course, with Ben Turpin and Glen Cavender within

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 Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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