Today is the birthday of Charles “Heinie” Conklin, sometimes billed as Charles Lynn (1886-1959). Originally from San Francisco, Conklin (no relation to the better known Chester) started off on the stage around the turn of the century in vaudeville, music comedy and melodrama before going into films in the mid teens. In the silent era, he worked for most of the major comedy shops: Universal Joker, Fox Sunshine, Mack Sennett and Henry Lehrman, and also appeared in some features, usually in supporting roles. Briefly, when America was engaged in the First World War, he billed himself as Charles Lynn to sidestep the then-prevalent anti-German sentiment. During this period he was often paired in films with Ben Turpin.
In the sound era, he continued to act in features but now in bit roles. As such you can see him in scores and scores of films, including such classics as Soup to Nuts (1930), Million Dollar Legs (1932), Diplomaniacs (1933), and Ruggles of Red Gap (1933)…through over a hundred others culminating in his last credit, “barfly” in Gunmen from Laredo (1959). In later years, Conklin was one of the bunch who would be rounded up films and tv shows featuring tributes to the “last of the Keystone Kops“.
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
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.