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To the vile dust from whence "they" sprung..


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unwept, unhonored and unsung.... may I salute some of Hollywood's finest character actors!

 

Excuse my paraphrasing of the lines by Sir Walter Scott, but I come to bring tribute to those actors, whose names are often unknown to the general public, but who movie fans here will know.

 

First up...my nomination for the best impersonation of a Brit by an American, goes to veritable giant of character parts, Ian Wolfe...who was in oodles of films from the early 1930's up to 1990, when he appeared in "Dick Tracy". Who can forget his winning bits in big films like "Mutiny on the Bounty" [as the stool pigeon, Maggs] "Foreign Correspondent", "Mrs. Miniver", or "Random Harvest" and parts in smaller budget films like the Sherlock Holmes series, where he played the antique shop owner in "SH in Washington" and Amos in "The Pearl of Death" with Rondo Hatton as The Creeper.

 

Born in 1896, in Illinois Ian Wolfe, who played so many priests and clergymen onscreen, offscreen was a scholar in Comparitive Religion and Philosophy and was quite the outdoorsman, even tacking scaling Mt. Whitney, though his film persona never portrayed him as so athletically inclined. Married for most of his career to Aussie born actress, Elizabeth Schroder, Ian Wolfe personified the unsung actor who contributes so much to the films in which he appears, but who is not given the acclaim or awards due to his non-starring roles, magnificent though they be.

 

Often playing butlers [as in the Falcon series] or librarians, undertakers, doctors, ministers, clerks, justices of the peace, or professors in films, due to his incipient intelligence and demeanor...he was equally adept at playing comedy in films and in countless tv sitcoms like "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", "Barney Miller", "Soap" and "All in the Family" and even "Cheers" in his later years.

 

Quite adept at playing passive-aggressive type individuals on film, who can later show their cruel, merciless or just nasty, diabolical side with one glinty stare of his piercing eyes, Ian Wolfe was usually employed in five to six movies yearly during his heyday, an attestation to how in demand he was at the big studios, to provide believable background characterizations. Other films in which he appeared are "The Song of Bernadette", "The White Cliffs of Dover", "The Scarlet Claw", "Love Letters", "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House", "Johnny Belinda", "They Live By Night", "Julius Caesar", "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", "Rebel Without a Cause" [who can forget the planetarium scene!] and his great turn in "Witness for the Prosecution" and these are but a few of the major films which were graced by Ian Wolfe.

 

The floor is now open for nominations for your favorite "unwept, unhonored and unsung" actors or actresses that you think deserve some attention, even if belatedly....

 

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Native Kentuckian,Tom London whose career spanned from the silent era to the talkies and probably holds the record for most screen appearances.

George Zucco and Lionel Atwill. These masters of mayhem graced many horror films.

George "Gabby" Hayes....Westerns.

Walter Brennan.....All around.

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to say...that while I am a big fan of your choices of Zucco, Atwill, Gabby and Brennan, all of whom I've seen loads of times...I had to go look up Tom London to get a handle on his career.

 

What I read makes me realize I have a major gap in my knowledge of Western films, which obviously is as big as the Grand Canyon. Tom London...I read, died in 1963 in his 80's, and as you state, acted in more movies than any other player according to my source. Started in "The Great Train Robbery" in 1903 and then never lost any steam, appearing in hundreds of cowboy oaters, and also starred for Universal under his real name, Leonard Clapham! Sure are a lot of movie cowboys named Leonard, what with Leonard Slye also. He also starred at Pathe, and did supports as badmen and sheriffs to numerous cowboy stars and in serials too. This says that High Noon" was his last big western but that he did finish his career in 1959 in "The Lone Texan".

 

You're the expert, so if any of this data on London is wrong...please correct it, and thanks so much for bringing him to my attention!

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therealfuster,

I really dont rely a lot on Imdb for data. The old corral web site is an excellent source for western stars and info. I may go over there and see what they say about London and The Great Train Robbery. For your info , London usually played ranchers,sherrifs,etc. Even in the cheapest B productions, Tom London provided fine character roles.

 

 

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there is misinformation all over the Internet, and even on places like IMDb. Using it to just refresh one's memories is a good tactic, but using it whole cloth and quoting it, can often show up ones who don't know the difference between James Dean, the king of angst and Jimmy Dean, the sausage king, or that Michael Curtiz did not pronounce his name like the surname of Tony Curtis.

 

Yes, if you find out more about London, let me know.

 

I do have a really pretty good source book at home, called something like the Encyclopedia of Western Films, and I shall go home and read up on London, so I can fill in my appalling knowledge gap!

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