Charles Paton’s Lament

Just a few lines this morning about minor British character actor Charles Paton (1874-1970), not to be confused with old time blues man Charley Patton!

The Paton in question was born and raised in London, and ran away with a circus when he was 14 (1888). Years of experience in music hall and legit theatre followed. His turn from the West End revue John Citizen’s Lament (as the title character) was filmed in 1927 by Lee Deforest as one of his sound-on-film experiments. It was the first of over 130 British films for Paton.

Paton’s first two features were perhaps most notable, for they were the well-known late silent picture Picadilly (1929) with Gilda Gray, Anna May Wong, Charles Laughton, and Ray Milland; and Alfred Hitchcock’s first sound film Blackmail (1929). Most of his ensuing parts over his quarter-century-long film career were bit roles (clerks, postmen, etc), the last of which was in 13 East Street (1952). He was 78 when he retired, and a then highly remarkable 95 at the time of his passing.

For more on vaudeville, circus, and English music hall, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent and early film, read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.