11 December 2015

EFSP's Dazzling Dozen: Odd Characters

That guy... who was in that film... Know what I mean? You saw the film, forgot the leads, but kept remembering that odd face of the boss, neighbour, uncle. These funny characters were superbly played by little-known supporting actors. Today EFSP brings a salute to 12 of these great character actors.

Marcel Levesque in La nouvelle mission de Judex
French postcard by Coquemer Gravures, Paris. Photo: Gerschel / Gaumont. Still for La nouvelle mission de Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1917-1918).

Marcel Lévesque (1877-1962) was a French actor and scriptwriter who excelled in French silent and sound comedies but also played memorable parts in the crime serials by Feuillade and in Renoir’s Le crime de M. Lange.

Oreste Bilancia in L'arzigogolo (1924)
Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 202. Photo: Negativi Alba Film. Publicity still for L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924).

Stage and film actor Oreste Bilancia (1881-1945) was highly active in Italian silent and sound cinema and also in the late silent cinema of the Weimar republic. He mostly worked as a supporting actor, but occasionally he played the main character.

French postcard in the series Nos artistes dans leur loge, no. 5. Sent by mail in 1923. Photo: Comoedia.

Félicien Tramel (1880-1948) was a French singer and actor. He made more than 30 78’s at Odeon with such hits as T'en fais pas Bouboule (Do not worry Bouboule) and Y me faut mon patelin (I miss my hometown). Between 1911 and 1947 he played in dozens of films. In a series of silent and sound comedies he starred as the character Alfred Bicard or le Bouif.

Hermann Picha
Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 522. Photo: Sascha-Film, Wien (Vienna). Collection: Didier Hanson.

German actor Hermann Picha (1865-1936) played character roles in many classics of the Weimar cinema, such as Fritz Lang's Der müde Tod/Destiny (1921), F.W. Murnau's Herr Tartüff/Tartuffe (1925), and Der Hauptmann von Köpenick/The Captain from Koepenick (Siegfried Dessauer, 1926).

Julius von Szöreghy
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 592. Photo: Verleih E. Weill & Co. / National. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Hungarian actor and film director Julius von Szöreghy (1883-1943) was one of the busiest supporting actors of the German and Austrian cinema in the second half of the 1920s.

Roy d'Arcy in The Merry Widow (1925)
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 396. Photo: publicity still for The Merry Widow (Erich Von Stroheim, 1925).

American character actor Roy d'Arcy played his most famous role in Erich Von Stroheim’s classic The Merry Widow (1925), starring Mae Murray and John Gilbert.

Felix Bressart
Dutch postcard, no. 238. Photo: Remaco-Film. At the rop right is a censorship stamp, necessary in the Netherlands for all film photos at the time.

German stage and screen actor Felix Bressart (1892–1949) had to flee Germany after the Nazis seized to power. He continued his film career in Austria and later in the US, where he became a popular character actor for MGM.

Szöke Szakáll
Dutch postcard by City Film, no. 619. Photo: publicity still for Frühlingsstimmen/Voices of Springtime (1933, Pál Fejös).

Cute, chubby-jowled Hungarian actor Szöke Szakáll (1883-1955) started his film career in the German and Austrian silent cinema. From 1940 on, he became known as S.Z. Sakall in Hollywood. He was memorable as Carl, the waiter in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) and played many more supporting roles in comedies and musicals, often as a lovable somewhat befuddled uncle, businessman or neighborhood eccentric.

Claudio Ermelli
Italian postcard by ASER, Roma, no. 97. Photo: Pesce.

Italian film actor Claudio Ermelli (1892-1964) played bit parts and character roles in more than 115 films, from 1915 to 1962.

Paolo Stoppa
Italian postcard by ASER (A. Scarmiglia Ed., Roma), no. 96. Photo: Pesce.

Italian character actor Paolo Stoppa (1906–1988) is best known for his stage work with director Luchino Visconti. In a career of more than 50 years, he also appeared in such cinema classics as Miracolo a Milano (1951), Il Gattopardo (1962) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

George 'Gabby' Hayes
Dutch postcard, no. KF 50. Photo: Republic Pictures.

American character actor George 'Gabby' Hayes (1885-1969) was one of the colourful sidekicks to the leading men in the Hollywood Westerns of the 1930s and 1940s. His grizzled codger was so popular that Hayes landed repeatedly on the annual list of Top Ten Western Box-office Stars.

Rudolf Platte
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin. Photo: Rolf Lantin / Constantin-Film.

German character actor Rudolf Platte (1904-1984) played both cheerfully talkative and reserved and shy, but loving people in more than 200 films. After his death, the media hailed him as Berlin’s ‘last true folk actor’.

Herbert Joeks
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Sent by mail in 1969. Photo: Herbert Joeks in Pipo de clown.

Frail singer and character actor Herbert Joeks (1915-1993) appeared in several Dutch films and TV series. He became an icon for generations of Dutch kids as the fearful Indian Klukkluk in the TV-series Pipo de Clown (1958-1980).

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth at the The Best Hearts are Crunchy. You can visit her by clicking on the button below.

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