Obituary: Charles Lane



I couldn't not mention that the actor Charles Lane, veteran of over 330 appearances in movies and tv, almost all of them bits and walk-ons, died this month at the age of 102. The bit-part actor par excellence, he was still working up to last year.

In his long career he worked for Capra ten times ("nosey newsman" in Mr Smith Goes To Washington [on the left in the picture] and "rent collector" in It's a Wonderful Life among them), with Harold Lloyd, Abbott & Costello and the Marx Brothers (he's the debt collector pestering Groucho in The Big Store), in assorted adventures for Boston Blackie, Tarzan and Ellery Queen, in The Cat and the Canary, Twentieth Century, 42nd Street and dozens of films in which he plays a lawyer, district attorney, doctor or belligerent overworked professional with chisel-thin face and small round glasses.
He was also one of the last survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

He's easily spotted and always gives good value, so keep an eye out for him when you're watching Arsenic and Old Lace (reporter at marriage license bureau), Mighty Joe Young (man at bar), Blondie in Society (washing machine salesman) or Blonde Crazy ('Four-Eyes', the hotel desk clerk).
Here is a man of clear and obvious talent, giving what he can in blink-or-miss-it parts, always without fanfare and as often as not without credit. Next time you see him, point him out and say his name.

Charles Lane, 26.1.1905 - 9.7.2007