Syd Crossley: The Long Comic

London-born Syd Crossley (1885-1960) was billed in music hall and vaudeville as “The Long Comic” on account of his height. In films he was especially known for playing butlers. He broke into Hollywood movies as a supporting player during the silent era.

Some of his early pictures include Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde (1925) with Stan Laurel; Keep Smiling (1925) with Monty Banks; Mama Behave (1926) with Charley Chase; Play Safe (1927) with Monty Banks; One Hour Married (1927) with Mabel Normand, Creighton Hale and Jimmy Finlayson; Ain’t Love Funny? (1927) with Alberta Vaughn; The Blood Ship (1927) with Hobart Bosworth; the original version of The Gorilla (1927) with Charlie Murray; That Certain Thing (1928) with Viola Dana and Ralph Graves; A Perfect Gentleman (1928) with Monty Banks; The Cowboy Kid (1928) with Rex Bell; The Circus Kid with Frankie Darro, Poodles Hanneford, Joe E. Brown and Helene Costello; The Fatal Warning (1929) with Helene Costello and Ralph Graves; The Younger Generation (1929) with Jean Hersholt, Lina Basquette, and Ricardo Cortez; and Loud Soup (1929) with Charley Chase.

Shortly after sound came in, Crossley returned to his home country to put his cockney accent to good use in British films. The first of these was Atlantic (1929) a fictionalized telling of the Titanic disaster, which we wrote about here. Scores more followed through Let the People Sing (1942) with Alastair Sim and Charles Hawtrey, appropriately set in a music hall.

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