Friday, February 10, 2017

Born Today February 10: Alan Hale Sr.


Character actor Alan Hale Sr. was born Rufus Edward Mackahan in Washington D.C. on this day in 1892.  Along with being famous in his own right, he is equally as famous for being the father of "Skipper" Alan Hale Jr. of "Gilligan's Island" fame.  Initially he studied to be an opera singer, but when that didn't work out, he decided to go into acting.  The first film he appeared in came in 1912 with a little known comedy short The Drummer.  As films got longer in time, he became a go-to man for supporting roles, which he occupied for very many famous silent and early sound actors, including, but not limited to:  Douglas Fairbanks, Wallace Beery, Errol Flynn & Clark Gable.  He also acted along side Lon Chaney Sr., whose son, Lon Jr., shared a birthday with him.  The first sound film that he appeared in came in 1928 with Sal Of Singapore, a partial silent with sound (talking sequences) by RCA Phonophone System.  His first full sound film came the next year with Sailor's Holiday.  Hale was married to silent film actress Gretchen Hartman; together they had 3 children (including Alan Jr. mentioned above).  Hale was also a keen inventor.  He invented several interesting, but unrelated, gadgets.  Probably the most helpful of his inventions, (and also relating to his work as a film actor) was a sliding theater seats, that would allow patrons to lean back and let people pass without having to stand up.  Hale worked as an actor right up until the time of his death, setting a record that has yet to be broken for the number of times that he played "Little John" in Robin Hood films.  The first of which came in 1922 with Robin Hood, starring Wallace Berry and Douglas Fairbanks (who provided the script under an alias).  The last came with Rogues Of Sherwood Forest, which was released in 1950 after his death.  Hale died in Hollywood, CA. on January 22, 1950 following a shift liver ailment and a massive infection.  He was survived by his wife and three children.  He was buried at the fame Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in Glendale.

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