My daily calendar showed five new people I might have written about this morning, but I picked Charles Judels (1882-1969) over two much better known and remembered stage and screen professionals, because he interested me far more seemed more germane to our usual themes. Am I my own worst enemy? Doubtless. (FYI, those other two were Monty Woolley and Julian Fellowes. I’ll probably add them sometime, joining them to the other August 17 babies Mae West, Maureen O’Hara, Davy Crockett, Julia Marlowe, and Barney Bernard. But please don’t suggest or encourage me to do posts on particular people or topics. That would obligate me not to do it). Judels had over two dozen Broadway and 150 Hollywood credits, but to cut to the chase for the impatient, he is best known for such things as providing the voice of the villain Stromboli in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (1940), and playing the cheese story proprietor in Laurel and Hardy’s Swiss Miss (1938).
Born in Amsterdam, Judels was a third generation theatrical professional. Unusually for someone whose natural accent would have been Dutch, Judels was gifted in comic versions of ALL dialects. His first Broadway role in A Trip to Buffalo (1902) was a character named ABDULLAH. He was scarcely ever off the stage for the next quarter century. Other shows included Flo-Flo (1904) with Stella Mayhew, Old Dutch (1909) with Lew Fields and Helen Hayes, The Ziegfeld Follies of 1912, and Anna Held’s All Star Variety Jubilee (1913). In later years, he directed revues like Gay Paree (1926) with Jack Haley, Winnie Lightner, and Chic Sale; A Night in Spain (1927) with Ted Healy and His Stooges, Phil Baker, Jay Brennan, Georgie Price, and Sid Silvers; and Artists and Models (1927) with Jack Pearl, Jack Osterman, and Veloz and Yolanda.
During those years, Judels appeared in four silent movies: the screen version of My Old Dutch (1915) with Lew Fields, The Commuters (1915), Little Old New York (1923) with Marion Davies and Harrison Ford, and Under the Red Robe (1923) with Robert B. Mantell and Alma Rubens.
It wasn’t until talkies arrived in a serious way in 1929 that Judels made the definitive jump to the screen. In addition to the previous mentioned Pinocchio and Swiss Miss, you can see him in supporting roles in Oh, Sailor Behave, 50 Million Frenchmen, and Gold Dust Gertie (all 1931) with Olsen and Johnson; God’s Gift to Women (1931) with Frank Fay; The Mighty Barnum (1934) with Wallace Beery; The Great Ziegfeld (1936); San Francisco (1936); High Flyers (1937) with Wheeler and Woolsey; Gold Diggers in Paris (1938); Idiot’s Delight (1939); Ninotchka (1939); Gold Rush Maisie (1940); Down Argentine Way (1940); The Villain Still Pursued Her (1940), DuBarry Was a Lady and I Dood It (both 1943) with Red Skelton; Knickerbocker Holiday (1944); and The Mighty McGurk (1947).
Between 1931 and 1934 Judels also appeared in 18 comedy shorts, occasionally in starring parts, alongside the likes of Jack Haley, Shemp Howard, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (who directed many of them as well), Ben Blue, Lionel Stander, Frank McHugh, Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd, Franklin Pangborn, June MacCloy, Gertrude Short, Tom Patricola, and George Givot.
A bit part in Samson and Delilah (1949) was his last time before the cameras.
For more on classic comedy film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.