Today is the birthday of Reginald Denny (1891-1967). Many know him as a third and fourth billed English character actor of the classic studio era. But he was a much, much bigger star during the silent period. While he did all sorts of roles, he is chiefly remembered as a highly physical light comedian in the mold of Douglas Fairbanks.
Here he is The Night Bird (1929), directed by Fred Newmeyer.
Denny seemed like such an all-American hero it came as something of a shock when talkies came along and he proved to be veddy, veddy British. Twas then he began to get the character parts, despite his good looks and useful heroic-type skills as an aviator and a boxer. In the sound era you can see him in Parlor, Bedroom and Bath (1931) with Buster Keaton, Of Human Bondage (1934), Romeo and Juliet (1936), Rebecca (1940), My Favorite Brunette (1947) with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye (1947), Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) and Cat Ballou (1965) , among dozens of others. His last film was the movie based on the hit tv show Batman (1966).
For more on silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss 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