Monday, June 5, 2017

Born Today June 5: Charles Ogle


Giant of the early silver screen Charles Stanton Ogle was born on this day in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of a minister.  Ogle, of course, was a stage actor before acting in film and he made his successful Broadway debut in 1905. Ogle made his film debut in 1908, when he went to work for the Edison Manufacturing Company under contract--one of the first actors to sign such a contract with a studio (the first studio, no less).  The Boston Tea Party, a short historical drama, was released in July of that year and directed by Edwin S. Porter.  Under this contract he would assay a number of well know roles from works of literature.  Probably the most famous is that of Frankenstein's Monster in the very first film of that book.  Frankenstein dates from 1910 and was directed by J.Serle Dawley.  The film featured some truly impressive special effects for the day; Ogle created the makeup for the role himself--and he did a great job (!)--a tradition that was still going strong in the 1920's (see, for example, the many photos of Lon Chaney Sr. [an actor Ogle would later work with] and his portable make-up kit).

Ogle as The Monster

That same year, Ogle would go on to play the meek, hardworking, rather pathetic Bob Cratchit from Charles Dickens immortal Christmas classic A Christmas Carol  ; he played opposite Marc McDermott's Scrooge (McDermott was actually a much younger actor than Ogle).  He had no shortage of work at Edison!  By 1912, he found himself the star of What Happened To Mary, the first serial ever produced.  With the serial turning out to be a great marketing plan to the public (Edison quickly noticed that they were quite addictive), a larger serial thriller was planned and executed in 1914 with The Man Who Disappeared, both Ogle and McDermott [who was the star] appeared in it.  The last film that he made for Edison was also in 1914, he played Ragnarr in The Viking Queen.  After this, he and his frequent co-star Mary Fuller--who he had been working with since the beginning of his film career--absconded to Victor Film. The company had a distribution deal with Universal, and indeed, the first film that they made for the studio--The Witch Girl (1914)--was distributed by Universal.  By 1917, he was with Jesse L Lasky's company.  The first confirmed feature length film that he is known to have acted in was A Romance Of The Redwood (1917), a Mary Pickford film directed by Cecil B. DeMille; the film is 1 hour 10 minutes long.  In 1920, he appeared as Long John Silver in Treasure Island, a film which also featured Chaney Sr.  Throughout the 1920's he fell easily into character acting; with the last film that he appeared in coming in 1926 with The Flaming Forest.  With his retirement in 1926, in all he had appeared in more than 300 films.  Ogle lived a further 14 years in Long Beach, California, where he died from arteriosclerosis on the 11th of October in 1940.  He is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

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