Today is the birthday of Monte (sometimes rendered as “Monty”) Collins (1898-1951). You may think you don’t know him, but if you’re a comedy fan you have definitely seen him as part of the ensembles in comedy shorts of Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon and the like, usually as a skinny, nervous, uptight little dude with a mustache.
A New York native, Collins got his start in vaudeville before he began to break into films in the early 1920s. His primary studio relationships were with Educational Pictures and (in the sound era) Columbia, the common denominator being director/ producer Jules White. By the late 20s, Collins was frequently starring in comedy shorts, and for awhile was tried in teams with Vernon Dent and Tom Kennedy. He returned to being a supporting player in the talkie era, as well as a gag man and screenwriter. His last gig was as a writer of Laurel and Hardy’s woebegone swan song Utopia, a.k.a Atoll K. (1950).
Thanks to Ben Model’s Accidentally Preserved project we get to see him in his heyday as a star. Here he is (and quite funny too) in the 1928 comedy Wedding Slips:
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. To find out more about show business consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.