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The 100+ Club


lydecker
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One of the challenges of TCM Programming Challenge #35, "The Long And The Short Of It"  asks participants to select as their SOTM, an actor or actress who has appeared in 100 or more feature films.  In concert with that challenge, I thought I would start this thread, honoring some of those often unheralded actors whose names seldom, if ever, appeared above the credits but whose 100+ performances rang true every single time. 

 

Regis Toomey

 

Regis Toomey has a special connection to me since he was not only born in Pittsburgh, PA (my home town) but also attended the University of Pittsburgh and was a great friend of my grandfather who attended Pitt at the same time.  At the end of their college careers, my grandfather moved on to dental school, while Regis Toomey went to Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon) to study drama.  In 1928 he appeared in his first film which, coincidentally was the first all-talking gangster melodrama, "Alibi." Toomey appeared in over 150 films from 1929 to 1987.  With his Irish "tough guy" looks, he generally appeared in mysteries and gangster films and was often the victim of a violent death   --  to his way of thinking  -- way too early in the film! Toomey once noted that he was killed on film so often that he should be voted the "Morticians' Man Of The Year."  His film credits include:  "Other Men's Women," "G-Men,""Murder On The Blackboard," "Meet John Doe" and "The Bishop's Wife." Regis Toomey worked in film and television up to nearly the end of his life, dying in 1991 at the age of 93.

 

Tomorrow Saluting Mary Treen.

 

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One of the challenges of TCM Programming Challenge #35, "The Long And The Short Of It"  asks participants to select as their SOTM, an actor or actress who has appeared in 100 or more feature films.  In concert with that challenge, I thought I would start this thread, honoring some of those often unheralded actors whose names seldom, if ever, appeared above the credits but whose 100+ performances rang true every single time. 

 

Regis Toomey

 

Regis Toomey has a special connection to me since he was not only born in Pittsburgh, PA (my home town) but also attended the University of Pittsburgh and was a great friend of my grandfather who attended Pitt at the same time.  At the end of their college careers, my grandfather moved on to dental school, while Regis Toomey went to Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon) to study drama.  In 1928 he appeared in his first film which, coincidentally was the first all-talking gangster melodrama, "Alibi." Toomey appeared in over 150 films from 1929 to 1987.  With his Irish "tough guy" looks, he generally appeared in mysteries and gangster films and was often the victim of a violent death   --  to his way of thinking  -- way too early in the film! Toomey once noted that he was killed on film so often that he should be voted the "Morticians' Man Of The Year."  His film credits include:  "Other Men's Women," "G-Men,""Murder On The Blackboard," "Meet John Doe" and "The Bishop's Wife." Regis Toomey worked in film and television up to nearly the end of his life, dying in 1991 at the age of 93.

 

Tomorrow Saluting Mary Treen.

 

I always liked Regis Toomey in "Graft", a little known Universal from 1931. It also stars Boris Karloff as a gangster.

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I can think of a few actors offhand who appeared frequently.  Sometimes they received a screen credit, but darn sure not always.  No matter, they racked up over 100 credits whether billed or not. 

 

     HELTON, Percy, 77 (1894-1971).  I watched 'RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY' the other day and there was Percy as the bank owner who hired Joel McCrea.  Unbilled.  He was a nightclub owner in 'JAILHOUSE ROCK', which I also watched on TCM recently.  Again unbilled.  But easily noticeable. 

 

     FLAVIN, James, 69 (1906-1976)

 

     KIBBEE, Guy, 74 (1882-1956)

 

     RAINEY, Ford, 96 (1908-2005)

 

     LANE, Charles, 102 (1905-2007)

 

     WOODS, Harry, 79 (1889-1968)  Appeared in a lot of "B"-Westerns where an actor can rack up the credits in a hurry!

 

     BEST, Willie (1913 or 1916  - 1962).  I believe he racked up over 100 credits before his death in '62.  

 

      HANKIN, Larry, 76 (b. 1940)  The biggest part I've seen him in so far was as 'Charley Butts' in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979) where he was a prisoner in the next cell wanting to escape with Clint Eastwood.  He got some good lines in the 1980 Tv movie "The Great American Traffic Jam" where he played 'Sill' (part of Lisa Hartman's band).    

 

     With KIRK DOUGLAS turning 100 back in December I wonder if he has 100+ credits?  I reckon I'll go to the IMDb and have a look.  

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I can think of a few actors offhand who appeared frequently.  Sometimes they received a screen credit, but darn sure not always.  No matter, they racked up over 100 credits whether billed or not. 

 

     HELTON, Percy, 77 (1894-1971).  I watched 'RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY' the other day and there was Percy as the bank owner who hired Joel McCrea.  Unbilled.  He was a nightclub owner in 'JAILHOUSE ROCK', which I also watched on TCM recently.  Again unbilled.  But easily noticeable. 

 

     FLAVIN, James, 69 (1906-1976)

 

     KIBBEE, Guy, 74 (1882-1956)

 

     RAINEY, Ford, 96 (1908-2005)

 

     LANE, Charles, 102 (1905-2007)

 

     WOODS, Harry, 79 (1889-1968)  Appeared in a lot of "B"-Westerns where an actor can rack up the credits in a hurry!

 

     BEST, Willie (1913 or 1916  - 1962).  I believe he racked up over 100 credits before his death in '62.  

 

      HANKIN, Larry, 76 (b. 1940)  The biggest part I've seen him in so far was as 'Charley Butts' in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979) where he was a prisoner in the next cell wanting to escape with Clint Eastwood.  He got some good lines in the 1980 Tv movie "The Great American Traffic Jam" where he played 'Sill' (part of Lisa Hartman's band).    

 

     With KIRK DOUGLAS turning 100 back in December I wonder if he has 100+ credits?  I reckon I'll go to the IMDb and have a look.  

Willie Best is one of our favorites.  In some movies he was either uncredited or credited as Sleep 'N Eat.

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More actors who have over 100 credits:

 

     SHATNER, William (1931-     ).  Over 200 credits. 

 

     ROONEY, Mickey, 93 (1920-2014).  Never stopped working.   

 

     McDOWALL, Roddy, 70 (1928-1998)  Busy. 

 

      THOMPSON, Marshall, 66 (1925-1992)  He started out in films very young and amassed bunches of credits by age 35. 

 

     I looked up KIRK DOUGLAS on the IMDb and noted he didn't have 100 credits.  He was close, but no cigar. 

 

     HONOURABLE MENTION: 

 

DAVID JANSSEN had 98 credits according to the IMDb.  He died Feb. 13, 1980 at age 48 just after starting to film the TVM "Damien:  The Leper Priest" (he was replaced by Ken Howard).  I think it's a certainty had Janssen died, say, five years later on Feb. 13, 1985 he'd have had 110-115 credits by then given the pace with which he was working.  He was a workaholic, to be sure. 

 

     SAMMY DAVIS Jr. and 'The Godfather of Soul' JAMES BROWN also were workaholics.  Sammy once said he just couldn't sit still. 

 

    

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John Wayne had 178 acting credits to his name, 19 of them in uncredited roles in silent films.

 

Ward Bond has 271 credits, but I think that includes his 133 episodes of Wagon Train and all of his uncredited roles. I don't know if he would get to 100 if you took those out.

 

Grant Withers has 201 TV and film appearances over just 29 years. Many of those were uncredited roles.

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I think JOHN WAYNE has the record of *starring* in the most movies all-time.  He started piling up his starring credit list in 1930 with "The Big Trail" and subsequently featuring in all those '30s "B"-pictures, 95% of which were "B"-Westerns. 

 

     Wayne's 1937 quickie "California Straight Ahead" looks interesting enough.  It's in the Leonard Maltin Classic Video Guide and read the lil' review on it.  Does not appear to be available on homevideo in any format, however.  Bummer!  Seems like most all of Wayne's '30s low-budgeters have been made available on some homevideo format or other, but not that one.         

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Including shorts, Mary Pickford has 251 film credits and Oliver Hardy has 416.  Michael Caine, 156 films, Donald Sutherland, 172; Christopher Lee, 276, Bette Davis had 124 including tv movies. Keye Luke has around 150 if you take out the tv spots. According to my old Guiness movie fact book, the US record for appearing in most films goes to Tom London, who started in 1903s ​The Great Train Robbery​ with over 2000 appearances.

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Charley Chase has 277 acting credits, I think all in shorts. Since he only lived to be 46, that's quite an accomplishment.

 

Charles Bickford had 112 TV and film credits. He was never "uncredited" as far as I know since he was recruited by MGM to be a star.

 

Ray Milland had 176 TV and film credits.

 

Buster Keaton has 148 credited TV and film roles over a 50 year period. There are probably more that are not listed as Buster did industrial shorts for companies that still get unearthed every now and then.

 

imdb has a section on most prolific actors/actresses, but they are all porn stars (by imdb's own admission)  and I don't think honoring them was this thread's intent.

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Mary Treen

 

She was usually there in the background, playing an almost invisible switchboard operator, secretary or nurse. But, you couldn’t help but notice Mary Treen, particularly when she let lose with a wisecrack or two. Never was there a more reliable “Hollywood Reliable” than she.

 

Mary Treen was born in St. Louis in 1907 but moved as a child to California shortly after her father’s death.  She always loved performing and as a young woman formed a musical comedy duo with Marjorie Barnett, billing themselves as “Treen & Barnett:  Two Unsophisticated Vassar Co-eds.” Mary Treen appeared in several vaudeville shows and danced in revues until 1934 when Warner Brothers signed her after seeing her appear in a local play.  She worked under contract at Warners for just three years and then freelanced for the rest of her career. She worked continuously from 1934-1984, appearing in over 144 films including:  “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “So Proudly We Hail,” “The Snake Pit,” “I Married A Monster From Outer Space,” and “I Love A Soldier,” a part which was written especially for her.  After her long film career, she transitioned to TV where she had a recurring role in “The Joey Bishop Show” along with guest appearances on many other shows including:  “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Here’s Lucy.”

 

Mary once said:  “I’m very proud to be able to work with stars but I never wanted to be one. They are nearly always driven, ruthless people, and I suspect, terribly unhappy basically.”

 

Tomorrow:  A Salute to Nat Pendleton.

 

 

 

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I don't know if she appeared in the list I linked to, but there was a character actress named Esther Howard who had 110 film credits to her name, usually bit parts. Her imdb  bio says that her husband died in 1926 and that she never remarried or had any children. Someone named Ken Howard bothered to put a tribute to her in the TCM review section for 1948's  "The Velvet Touch", saying that she was his great aunt. I wonder if it was THE Ken Howard of "The White Shadow"? Ken was born in 1944 and Esther was born in 1892, so the ages are right. The tribute was written in 2010, and Ken died in 2016.

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Including shorts, Mary Pickford has 251 film credits and Oliver Hardy has 416.  Michael Caine, 156 films, Donald Sutherland, 172; Christopher Lee, 276, Bette Davis had 124 including tv movies. Keye Luke has around 150 if you take out the tv spots. According to my old Guiness movie fact book, the US record for appearing in most films goes to Tom London, who started in 1903s ​The Great Train Robbery​ with over 2000 appearances.

It's very unusual for a lead actor or actress to build up a HUGE number of film credits. A player who plays bit or small roles can go from set to set, appearing in many films in one year. That's why a Charles Lane could accumulate so many credits.

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It's very unusual for a lead actor or actress to build up a HUGE number of film credits. A player who plays bit or small roles can go from set to set, appearing in many films in one year. That's why a Charles Lane could accumulate so many credits.

And that leaves Fred Astaire with only have 51 credits including television, even though he was a fine dramatic actor, having been nominated for a Supporting Actor Academy Award.

 

But since he primarily made "A" musicals--it took so many weeks in rehearsal and the films were so expensive-- he primarily only did one or two films per year.

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Nat Pendleton

 

Tall, dark and handsome, Nat Pendleton seldom got to be the hero, but instead played a variety of lovable buffoons who never failed to entertain in over 105 films. In contrast to his screen image, Nat Pendleton was erudite and well-educated.  He spoke four languages and graduated from Columbia University in 1916 with a degree in economics.  Prior to his film career, Nat Pendleton’s greatest claim to fame was the silver medal he won wrestling at the 1920 Olympics.  After the Olympics, Pendleton turned pro wrestler and for the next two years was undefeated until an injury forced him to change careers. 

 

Inspired by his uncle, Arthur Johnson, who had worked with D.W. Griffith, Nat Pendleton pursued an acting career. He made his film debut in “The Hoosier Schoolmaster” in 1924 while also acting in several Broadway shows including:  “Naughty Cinderella” and “His Girl Friday.”  Pendleton was an in-demand performer by the 1930’s and 1940’s appearing in such films as “Horse Feathers,” “Deception,” (which he also wrote) “Penthouse,” “The Gay Bride,” “Manhattan Melodrama" and “The Thin Man.  He also appeared as the good-hearted ambulance driver, Joe Wayman, in several of the “Dr. Kildare” films.  He auditioned for the lead role in the “Tarzan” series but lost out to Johnny Weissmuller. His final film appearance was in 1947 as the sergeant in “Buck Privates Come Home.”  Retiring in 1956, Nat Pendleton died in 1967 at the age of 72.

 

Tomorrow:  Saluting Frank McHugh

 

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When I think of actors that had multiple film roles, Ward Bond & Thomas Mitchell first come to mind.

 

Seems like you can't watch any movie without seeing them-sometimes both in the same movie too! For example: It's A Wonderful Life, Gone With The Wind.

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When I think of actors that had multiple film roles, Ward Bond & Thomas Mitchell first come to mind.

 

Seems like you can't watch any movie without seeing them-sometimes both in the same movie too! For example: It's A Wonderful Life, Gone With The Wind.

As many films as I've seen with Ward Bond in them, his face has never registered with me. I may not be able to pick him out of a lineup. Why is that?

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