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Charactor Actor Charles Lane


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Charactor Actor Charles Lane

by Claudia Luther


Charles Lane

LOS ANGELES, California -- Charles Lane, the anonymous yet highly familiar character actor who specialized in playing humorous cranks in hundreds of film and television roles stretching back to the early 1930s, died Monday, July 9 in the evening at his home in Brentwood, according to his son, Tom. He was 102.

Though his name was not known to most, his sharply featured face and lanky presence were recognizable to generations of moviegoers as the man who suffered fools badly in such films as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" as a newsman, "It's a Wonderful Life" as the rent collector, "You Can't Take It With You" as an IRS agent and "No Time for Sergeants" as the draft board driver.

Lane portrayed multitudes of character roles in other movies in which he played shopkeepers, professors, judges, bureaucrats, doctors, "a guy at the bar," policemen and salesmen. In the 1930s alone, he appeared in 161 films, sometimes moving from set to set to deliver a few lines in each of several movies in one day.

"And I was being paid $35 a day," Lane told Associated Press writer Bob Thomas in an interview just before his 100th birthday. "When the Screen Actors Guild was being organized, I was one of the first to join."

Starting in the early 1950s, Lane was also on dozens of TV programs, including "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show." Perhaps most famously, he appeared in classic episodes of "I Love Lucy," playing several characters who all seemed to have in common a stunned if comical lack of patience with the bumbling Lucy. He said it was on this show that he perfected the crusty skinflint role.

"They were all good parts, but they were jerks," he told The Times in 1980 of his characters on "I Love Lucy." "If you have a type established, though, and you're any good, it can mean considerable work for you."

And work he got. Throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s, Lane could be seen on "Perry Mason," "Dennis the Menace," "The Twilight Zone," "Bewitched," "Get Smart," "The Flying Nun," "The Andy Griffith Show," "Lou Grant" and many other shows.

In the '60s, audiences got to know him as Homer Bedloe, a scheming trouble-shooter for the railroad on "Petticoat Junction." In the '70s, he had running parts on "The Beverly Hillbillies" as Foster Phinney and on "Soap" as Judge Anthony Petrillo.

Max Baer Jr., who was Jethro on "The Beverly Hillbillies," said that although Lane played "a gruff, arrogant kind of guy" there and in dozens of other roles, "that was not him at all; that was a character. When he first started acting, when people wanted a guy who was cantankerous, they cast Charlie," Baer said.

After more than 60 years of acting, Lane last appeared in a TV movie in 1995. But he could be seen out and about in Hollywood for another decade. In March 2005, he was pictured with a wide smile in Variety while attending a TV Land Awards event at which friends presented him with a birthday cake after he turned 100.

At another centennial party two months earlier, held by family and friends, he modestly summed up his career of mostly smaller parts: "There was a character I played that showed up all the time, and people did get to know him, like an old friend."

Lane was born Charles Levison on January 26, 1905, in San Francisco and started his working life in the insurance business. Lane served in the Coast Guard during World War II. In 1928, he joined the company at the Pasadena Playhouse

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Hollywood Charactor Actor Charles Lane

by Robert Berkvist


Charles Lane

LOS ANGELES, California -- Charles Lane, a veteran character actor whose lean frame and stern features were familiar to millions of movie and television fans, most of whom, it is safe to say, never knew his name, died on Monday, July 9 in Los Angeles. His death was announced by his son, Tom, The Associated Press reported. He was 102.

Lane was busily employed from the 1930s to the

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