Arthur Hotaling: Lord of Lubin South

Arthur Douglas Hotaling (1873-1938) was a prolific comedy director during the silent era. He used more variations on his given name professionally than a check kiter (although some may have been errors in the credits): Arthur Hotaling, Arthur D. Hotaling, A.D. Hotaling, H.D. Hotaling, Arthur D. Hotalin, and, when he was in vaudeville, merely “Douglas” (He had a vaudeville act with Fred Mace called “Mace and Douglas”)

Hotaling started out as a director and sometime actor at Lubin Studios in Philadelphia in 1910 and rapidly became the head of their comedy division. Within months, he was responsible for moving this division down to Jacksonville, Florida. The new facility became known as “Lubin South”. This is where Oliver Hardy got his start. Hardy’s first film Outwitting Dad (1914) was directed by Hotaling, as were several of his subsequent ones. Others Hotaling directed at the studio included his wife Mae HotelyBillie Reeves, and Raymond McKee. Many of his comedies , with titles like Rastus in Zululand (1910) are notable for their gratuitous racism. When the Vim Comedy Company acquired Lubin South in 1915, Hotaling stayed with the outfit until it closed in 1917. Up to this point he’d directed over 100 films. This was the high water mark of his career

After the teens, Hotaling only directed a half dozen more movies, including This Way Out (1920) with Neely Edwards and Hugh Fay, and a couple of Bobby Ray comedies in 1926. His last film as director was the 1928 western feature A Gentleman Preferred. He also acted in a handful of films during these years. His last screen credits were for writing the intertitles for four films released by Trinity Pictures in 1929: Girls Who Dare, China Slaver, Broken Hearted, and (most appropriately as it was his last screen credit) Bye Bye, Buddy. Hotaling appears to have steered clear of talking pictures entirely, or they of him.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy film, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube; to find out more about vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,