Al Ernest Garcia: From “Old Mexico” to “Modern Times”

Much like Leo Carillo, with whom he appeared in some movies, Al Ernest Garcia (1887-1938), was a native Californian with deep Mexican roots (i.e. dated to the time before California became part of the U.S.)  In a 27 year career, Garcia appeared in over 150 films, occasionally portraying Mexicans or Native Americans, but playing Anglo parts at least as frequently, if not more often. His first role was in the 1911 Selig picture The Code of Honor with Hobart Bosworth. 

In the 1920s, he established a working relationship with Charlie Chaplin, appearing in The Idle Class (1921), Pay Day (1922), The Gold Rush (1925), The Circus (1928), City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936), and acting as casting director for The Circus, City Lights, and Modern Times. In the ’30s he worked mostly as an extra, although he occasionally got a better supporting role. Wonderfully, one of these was his last: the Hopalong Cassidy picture In Old Mexico (1938), a poetically fitting title to retire on.

For more on silent film and classic comedy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube