Cully Richards: Don’t Call Him Charlie

Cully Richards (1908-1978) was minor entertainer and character actor, hailing from Bob Hope’s hometown of Cleveland.

Richards started out as a comedian, singer, dancer and pantomimist in vaudeville in the 1920s, later migrating to nightclubs, films and television. He often worked as an emcee in clubs; you can see him in action at the titular joint in the 1939 short Slapsie Maxies, and playing the role of such in Hal Roach’s Pick a Star (1937), which is how I first became aware of him.

His first film was a 1934 “Boyfriends” short called Ocean Swells with Dorothy Granger and Grady Sutton. He’s in a couple of dozen movies, mostly in bit parts, including Robin Hood of El Dorado (1936) with Warner Baxter, Sing Baby Sing (1936) with Alice Faye, Let’s Face It (1943) with Bob Hope and Betty Hutton, and The Pirate (1948) with Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. Musicals like Sweetheart of the Navy (1937) and Swing it Sailor (1938) speak to that costume (above).

On TV, Richards was a regular on the military themed sitcom Don’t Call Me Charlie (1962-63, pictured above), and made frequent appearances on variety shows like The Hollywood Palace (1965-66), Las Vegas (1967) and The Jackie Gleason Show (1969-1970), as well as guest shots on shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and Gomer Pyle, USMC.

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