The screen career of comical character actor Bud Ross (sometimes billed as Budd Ross, 1868-1932) is nicely bookended between D.W. Griffith’s The Burglar’s Dilemma (1912) and Mack Sennett’s Hypnotized (1932). In between are sandwiched over 100 screen credits, with some of the most important stars of the day. 44 years old by the time he broke into the movies, Ross normally played mature men of one sort or another, butlers, sheriffs, fathers, and the like.
Born in Springfield, Illinois, Ross performed in musical comedies and vaudeville for years starting in the 1880s. He often played an Irish character in vaudeville; it is thus not surprising that his second film role was Dan the Irishman in A Sprig of Shamrock (1913). He had supporting roles in W.C. Fields’ first two films at Gaumont, Pool Sharks and His Lordship’s Dilemma, both in 1915. He also supported Cissy Fitzgerald at Gaumont, and starred in several comedies himself. At Vim and King Bee starting in 1917 he supported a young Oliver Hardy and Chaplin impersonator Billy West in several comedies. In 1919, Ross and Hardy co-wrote and appeared in the Jimmy Aubrey comedy Tootsies and Tamales. He supported Ben Turpin in A Small Town Idol (1921) and Yukon Jake (1924), and Harry Langdon in The Sea Squawk (1925). In 1925 he co-wrote several “Peggy” comedies for McKnight-Womack Productions. By the late ’20s he was mostly playing supporting roles for Sennett, in Raymond McKee’s “Smith Family” comedies and others.
To learn more about show biz history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent era film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.