Gene “Pop” Rogers and His Five Years of Filmic Funnydom

I only just became aware of supporting player Gene “Pop” Rogers (1866-1919) — he has a great turn in the L-KO comedy Under New Management, which is in The Alice Howell Collection.

During his five years as a screen comedian, Rogers was in 53 films. According to Mr. Suicide: Henry “Pathe” Lehrman and the Birth of Silent Comedy by Thomas Reeder, Rogers had been on the stage for 25 years, including six years touring vaudeville on the Orpheum Circuit, as well as time as a comedian in light opera, with the Wilbur Opera and Boston Lyric Opera companies, both in Boston. His first film at L-KO was Billie Ritchie’s Poor Policy, in April 1915. Rogers supported Ritchie numerous times during his year at L-KO. He was one of those mature comedians who specialized in playing fathers, bosses, bankers and the like. By The Surf Girl (July, 1916) he had switched over to Mack Sennett and Keystone. There, he can be seen as The Mayor in Stars and Bars (1917), The Father in Her Screen Idol (1918), and The Father in Her First Mistake (1918), among a few dozen others. His last film was When Love is Blind (May, 1919) with Ben Turpin, Heinie Conklin and Marie Prevost. According to Brent Walker’s Mack Sennett’s Fun Factory, Rogers died shortly after that age 52, of alcohol related causes, and fellow Keystone comedian Charlie Murray took up a collection for his burial.

To learn about the history of vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous; for more on silent film comedy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube