Fred Kohler: Western Heavy, Started in Vaudeville

Born in Burlington, Iowa, raised in Kansas City, Fred Kohler (1887-1938) started out in vaudeville and toured with traveling stock companies before breaking into silent films in 1911 in Selig’s The Code of Honor with Hobart Bosworth. Big and scary looking, Kolher worked mostly as a heavy, appearing in close to 150 films, most of them westerns, including classics like The Iron Horse (1924). In 1935, he appeared in two classic comedies for Paramount: Mississippi, with W.C. Fields and Bing Crosby, and Goin’ to Town with Mae West. One of his last films as a 1938 adaptation of Herbert Asbury’s Gangs of New York.  His son, Fred Kohler Jr (1911-1993) was also a supporting player in westerns.

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