Image of Charles Lane

Charles Lane

He was born Charles Gerstle Levison on January 26, 1905 in San Francisco and was actually one of the last survivors of that city's famous 1906 earthquake. He started out his working-class existence selling insurance but that soon changed. After dabbling here and there in various theatre shows, he was prodded by a friend, director Irving Pichel, to consider acting as a profession. In 1928 he joined the Pasadena Playhouse company, which, at the time, had built up a solid reputation for training stage actors for the cinema. While there he performed in scores of classical and contemporary plays. He made his film debut anonymously as a hotel clerk in Smart Money (1931) starring Edward G. Robinsonand James Cagney and was one of the first to join the Screen Actor's Guild. He typically performed many of his early atmospheric roles without screen credit and at a cost of $35 per day, but he always managed to seize the moment with whatever brief bit he happened to be in. People always remembered that face and raspy drone of a voice. He appeared in so many pictures (in 1933 alone he made 23 films!), that he would occasionally go out and treat himself to a movie only to find himself on screen, forgetting completely that he had done a role in the film. By 1947 the popular character actor was making $750 a week. Among his scores of cookie-cutter crank roles, Lane was in top form as the stage manager in Twentieth Century (1934); the Internal Revenue Service agent in You Can't Take It With You (1938); the newsman in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939); the rent collector in It's a Wonderful Life (1946); the recurring role of Doc Jed Prouty, in the "Ellery Queen" film series of the 1940s, and as the draft board driver in No Time for Sergeants (1958). A minor mainstay for Frank Capra, the famed director utilized the actor's services for nine of his finest films, including a few of the aforementioned plus Mr. Deeds Goes to Town(1936), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) and State of the Union (1948). Lane's career was interrupted for a time serving in the Coast Guard during WWII. In post-war years, he found TV quite welcoming, settling there as well for well over four decades. Practically every week during the 1950s and 1960s, one could find him displaying somewhere his patented "slow burn" on a popular sitcom - Topper (1953), The Real McCoys (1957), The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959), Mister Ed (1958), Bewitched(1964), Get Smart (1965), Gomer Pyle: USMC (1964), The Munsters (1964), Green Acres(1965), The Flying Nun (1967) and Maude (1972). He hassled the best sitcom stars of the day, notably Lucille Ball (an old friend from the RKO days with whom he worked multiple times), Andy Griffith and Danny Thomas. Recurring roles on Dennis the Menace (1959), The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) and Soap (1977) made him just as familiar to young and old alike. Tops on the list had to be his crusty railroad exec Homer Bedloe who periodically caused bucolic bedlam with his nefarious schemes to shut down the Hooterville Cannonball on Petticoat Junction (1963). He could also play it straightforward and serious as demonstrated by his work in The Twilight Zone (1959), Perry Mason (1957), Little House on the Prairie (1974) and L.A. Law (1986).

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Jan 26, 1905 In San Francisco, California, United States
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie The Branded Woman 1920-09-05
Latest Project:
Movie The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes 1995-01-18
Known For
Poster of The Twilight Zone
Poster of Sis Hopkins
Poster of Broadway Bill
Movie The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes Regent Yarborough 1995-01-18
Movie Posse Weezie 1993-05-14
Movie True Identity Duane 1991-07-23
Movie Sidewalk Stories Artist 1989-09-15
Series L.A. Law Unknown 1986-09-15
Movie Murphy's Romance Amos Abbott 1985-12-25
Series Hunter Unknown 1984-09-18
Series The Winds of War Adm. William Standley 1983-02-06
Movie Strange Invaders Prof. Hollister 1983-09-16
Series St. Elsewhere Unknown 1982-10-26
Movie Strange Behavior Donovan 1981-10-16
Movie The Little Dragons J.J. 1980-07-18
Movie Movie Movie Judge 1978-11-01
Series Mork & Mindy Unknown 1978-09-14
Series ABC Weekend Special Unknown 1977-09-10
Series Soap Unknown 1977-09-13
Series Lou Grant Unknown 1977-09-20
Series Sybil Dr. Quinoness 1976-11-14
Series The Family Holvak Unknown 1975-09-07
Series One Day at a Time Unknown 1975-12-16
Series Rhoda Unknown 1974-09-09
Series Chico and the Man Unknown 1974-09-13
Series Little House on the Prairie Unknown 1974-09-11
Series Adam's Rib Unknown 1973-09-14
Series Maude Unknown 1972-09-12
Movie The Gnome-Mobile Dr. Scoggins 1967-07-17
Series He & She Unknown 1967-09-06
Movie The Ghost & Mr. Chicken Whitlow 1966-01-20
Movie The Ugly Dachshund Judge 1966-02-16
Series Please Don't Eat the Daisies Unknown 1965-09-14
Movie John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! 'Strife' Magazine Editor 1965-03-24
Series F Troop Unknown 1965-09-14
Movie Billie Coach Jones 1965-12-13
Series The Wild Wild West Unknown 1965-09-17
Series Get Smart Unknown 1965-09-18
Movie Looking for Love Screen test director 1964-08-05
Movie The Carpetbaggers Denby 1964-04-08
Series Wendy and Me Unknown 1964-09-14
Movie Good Neighbor Sam Jack Bailey 1964-07-22
Series The Bing Crosby Show Unknown 1964-09-14
Series Bewitched Unknown 1964-09-17
Series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Unknown 1964-09-25
Series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Unknown 1964-09-22
Series Burke's Law Unknown 1963-09-20
Movie Papa's Delicate Condition Mr. Cosgrove 1963-03-06
Series The Bill Dana Show Unknown 1963-09-22
Movie The Wheeler Dealers Judge 1963-11-14
Series Petticoat Junction Unknown 1963-09-24
Movie The Music Man Constable 1962-06-19
Series The New Bob Cummings Show Unknown 1961-10-05
Movie The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock Standard Bates 1959-08-06
Movie The Mating Game Bigelow 1959-04-29
Movie But Not for Me Al Atwood 1959-08-19
Series The DuPont Show with June Allyson Unknown 1959-09-21
Series The Twilight Zone Mr. Peckinpaugh 1959-10-02
Movie Teacher's Pet Roy 1958-04-01
Series Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Unknown 1958-10-06
Series Lawman Unknown 1958-10-05
Series Perry Mason Unknown 1957-09-21
Movie God Is My Partner Judge Warner 1957-07-01
Series The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour Unknown 1957-11-06
Series The People's Choice Unknown 1955-10-06
Movie Tom and Jerry Joseph P. Garrity 1955-11-30
Series Willy Unknown 1954-09-18
Movie The Juggler Rosenberg 1953-05-11
Movie Remains to Be Seen Delapp 1953-05-15
Movie The Affairs of Dobie Gillis Prof. Obispo 1953-08-14
Series Today Unknown 1952-01-14
Series I Love Lucy Unknown 1951-10-15
Movie I Can Get It for You Wholesale Herman Pulvermacher (uncredited) 1951-04-05
Movie Here Comes the Groom Ralph Burchard 1951-09-20
Movie The Yellow Cab Man L.A. Casualty Co. Executive (uncredited) 1950-03-25
Movie The Second Face Mr. Westcott 1950-12-01
Movie Riding High Erickson 1950-04-12
Movie You're My Everything Mr. Eddie Pflum (uncredited) 1949-06-29
Movie The House Across the Street Apartment Manager 1949-09-10
Movie Mighty Joe Young Producer (uncredited) 1949-07-27
Movie Call Northside 777 Prosecuting Attorney (uncredited) 1948-02-13
Movie Smart Woman Reporter 1948-04-30
Movie State of the Union Blink Moran 1948-04-30
Movie Apartment for Peggy Prof. Collins (uncredited) 1948-09-30
Movie Out of the Storm Mr. Evans 1948-09-11
Movie It Happened on Fifth Avenue Landlord (uncredited) 1947-04-19
Movie Living in a Big Way Hawkins (uncredited) 1947-06-10
Movie Intrigue Hotel Desk Clerk 1947-12-06
Movie Bury Me Dead Brighton 1947-10-18
Movie Roses Are Red Lipton 1947-11-10
Movie A Close Call for Boston Blackie Hack Hagen (uncredited) 1946-01-24
Movie Mysterious Intruder Detective Burns 1946-04-11
Movie Just Before Dawn Dr. Steiner (uncredited) 1946-03-07
Movie It's a Wonderful Life Real Estate Salesman 1946-12-20
Movie The Invisible Informer Nick Steele 1946-08-19
Movie Arsenic and Old Lace Reporter at Marriage License Office 1944-09-01
Movie Mission to Moscow Man in Kitchenin Montage 1943-04-29
Movie Born to Sing Johnny 1942-02-18
Movie What's Cookin'? K.D. Reynolds 1942-02-20
Movie The Adventures of Martin Eden 1942-02-26
Movie Ride 'Em Cowboy Martin Manning (uncredited) 1942-02-13
Movie A Gentleman at Heart Holloway 1942-01-16
Movie Sealed Lips Attorney Emanuel 'Manny' T. Dixon 1942-01-02
Movie The Great Man's Lady Pierce (uncredited) 1942-04-15
Movie A Close Call for Ellery Queen Coroner 1942-01-29
Movie The Lady Is Willing K.K. Miller 1942-02-12
Movie Obliging Young Lady Private Detective Smith 1942-04-01
Movie Thru Different Eyes Mott 1942-06-19
Movie About Face Rental Car Manager 1942-04-16
Movie Friendly Enemies Braun 1942-06-21
Movie Pardon My Sarong Bus Company Superintendent (uncredited) 1942-08-07
Movie They All Kissed the Bride Spotter 1942-06-11
Movie Lady in a Jam Government Man 1942-06-19
Movie Sunday Punch Ringside spectator at Ole's first fight (uncredited) 1942-05-08
Movie Tarzan's New York Adventure Gould Beaton, Sargent's Lawyer 1942-05-01
Movie Home in Wyomin' Newspaper Editor 1942-04-29
Movie Broadway Hungry Harry 1942-05-08
Movie Sis Hopkins Mayor's aide 1941-04-12
Movie The Big Store Finance Company Man (uncredited) 1941-06-20
Movie Barnacle Bill Auctioneer 1941-04-07
Movie Back Street Reporter for Associated News 1941-02-07
Movie Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime Dr. Prouty (coroner) 1941-08-14
Movie Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery Doc Prouty 1941-03-24
Movie Repent at Leisure Clarence Morgan 1941-04-04
Movie Ball of Fire Larsen 1941-12-31
Movie Appointment for Love Smith (uncredited) 1941-10-31
Movie Birth of the Blues Wilbur - Theater Manager (uncredited) 1941-11-07
Movie New York Town Census Taker (uncredited) 1941-10-31
Movie Buy Me That Town J. Montague Gainsborough 1941-10-03
Movie I Wake Up Screaming Keating- Florist 1941-10-31
Movie Three Girls About Town Mortician 1941-10-23
Movie The Crooked Road Phil Wesner, Defense Attorney 1940-05-10
Movie You Can't Fool Your Wife Salesman 1940-05-21
Movie The Doctor Takes a Wife Reporter 1940-04-25
Movie Edison, the Man Second Lecturer 1940-05-10
Movie Primrose Path Mr. 'Smitty' Smith / Hawkins (uncredited) 1940-03-22
Movie Buck Benny Rides Again Charlie Graham 1940-05-31
Movie It's a Date Mr. Horner (uncredited) 1940-03-22
Movie Johnny Apollo Assistant D.A. 1940-04-19
Movie We Who Are Young Perkins 1940-07-19
Movie Dancing on a Dime Freeman Taylor 1940-11-01
Movie Ellery Queen, Master Detective Dr. Prouty 1940-11-30
Movie The Invisible Woman Growley 1940-12-27
Movie Blondie Plays Cupid Train Conductor (uncredited) 1940-10-31
Movie The Texas Rangers Ride Again Train Passenger 1940-12-13
Movie City for Conquest Al - Dance Team Manager (uncredited) 1940-09-21
Movie The Great Profile Director 1940-08-30
Movie Rhythm on the River Bernard Schwartz 1940-08-28
Movie The Leather Pushers Henry 'Mitch' Mitchell 1940-09-13
Movie Rose of Washington Square Sam Kress 1939-05-05
Movie Second Fiddle Studio Chief 1939-06-30
Movie Lucky Night Carpenter 1939-05-05
Movie News Is Made at Night District Attorney Rufe Reynolds 1939-07-20
Movie Let Us Live Auto Show Salesman (uncredited) 1939-03-29
Movie Boy Slaves Albee 1939-02-02
Movie Inside Story District Attorney 1939-03-10
Movie They All Come Out Psychiatrist 1939-08-04
Movie The Cat and the Canary Reporter 1939-10-27
Movie Beware Spooks! Moore 1939-10-24
Movie Charlie McCarthy, Detective Charlie's Doctor 1939-12-22
Movie Miracles for Sale Fleetwood Apartments Desk Clerk 1939-08-10
Movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Nosey 1939-10-19
Movie Television Spy Mr. Adler 1939-10-20
Movie Golden Boy Reporter Drake 1939-09-05
Movie 5th Ave Girl Union Representative (uncredited) 1939-09-22
Movie Honeymoon in Bali Photographer (uncredited) 1939-09-29
Movie Cocoanut Grove Weaver 1938-05-20
Movie In Old Chicago Booking Agent (scenes deleted) 1938-04-15
Movie The Rage of Paris Department Head (Uncredited) 1938-06-09
Movie Always in Trouble Donald Gower 1938-10-28
Movie Professor Beware Joe - Photographer 1938-07-29
Movie Kentucky Auctioneer 1938-12-30
Movie You Can't Take It with You Henderson 1938-09-01
Movie Born Reckless Barnes's lawyer 1937-06-25
Movie Big Business Webster - Bank Representative 1937-06-18
Movie We're on the Jury Horace Smith 1937-02-12
Movie Internes Can't Take Money Grote 1937-04-16
Movie One Mile From Heaven Webb 1937-08-18
Movie Bad Guy Attorney 1937-08-27
Movie Nothing Sacred Rubenstein (uncredited) 1937-11-25
Movie Ali Baba Goes to Town Doctor 1937-10-29
Movie Trapped by G-Men Fingers 1937-09-09
Movie Danger - Love at Work Gilroy, an attorney 1937-09-30
Movie The Adventures of Frank Merriwell Man in Front Row (archive footage) 1936-01-13
Movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Hallor (uncredited) 1936-04-09
Movie Lady Luck Feinberg 1936-09-13
Movie 36 Hours to Kill Lawyer Rickert 1936-07-24
Movie One More Spring Representative 1935-02-15
Movie Ginger Judge (uncredited) 1935-07-04
Movie The Florentine Dagger Man in Front Row (archive footage) 1935-03-30
Movie Woman Wanted Defense Attorney Herman (uncredited) 1935-08-02
Movie Here Comes the Band Mr. Scurry 1935-08-30
Movie Two for Tonight Writer 1935-09-12
Movie Looking for Trouble Switchboard Operator 1934-03-28
Movie The Show-Off Mr. Weitzenkorn 1934-03-09
Movie Twenty Million Sweethearts Reporter (uncredited) 1934-05-26
Movie Twentieth Century Max Jacobs 1934-05-11
Movie Broadway Bill Morgan's Henchman (uncredited) 1934-11-30
Movie The Bands Plays On Shyster Lawyer 1934-12-21
Movie A Wicked Woman Defense Attorney Beardsley (uncredited) 1934-12-07
Movie Private Detective 62 Process Server (uncredited) 1933-06-10
Movie Gold Diggers of 1933 Society Reporter (uncredited) 1933-05-27
Movie Employees' Entrance Shoe Salesman (uncredited) 1933-02-11
Movie Grand Slam Waiter at Nicolai Restaurant 1933-02-22
Movie Central Airport Amarillo Radio Operator (uncredited) 1933-04-15
Movie She Had to Say Yes Mr. Bernstein (uncredited) 1933-07-15
Movie Mr. Skitch Hotel Clerk 1933-12-22
Movie My Woman Conn 1933-10-04
Movie Broadway Thru a Keyhole Columnist #2 1933-11-02
Movie The Bowery Doctor (uncredited) 1933-10-07
Movie Union Depot Luggage Checkroom Clerk (uncredited) 1932-01-14
Movie The Mouthpiece Hotel Desk Clerk 1932-05-07
Movie Blessed Event Kane 1932-09-10
Movie Smart Money Hotel Desk Clerk (uncredited) 1931-07-11
Movie The Road to Singapore Desk Clerk at Club 1931-10-10
Movie Blonde Crazy Hotel Desk Clerk (uncredited) 1931-12-03
Movie Manhattan Parade Desk clerk 1931-12-24
Movie The Canary Murder Case Charles Spottswoode 1929-02-16
Movie Saturday's Children Mr. Henry Halevy 1929-03-10
Movie Broadway Scandals Manager 1929-11-10
Movie Sadie Thompson Dr. Angus McPhail 1928-01-07
Movie Married Alive Mr. Fountain 1927-07-17
Movie Service for Ladies Elizabeth's father 1927-08-06
Movie Barbed Wire Colonel Duval 1927-09-09
Movie The Winning of Barbara Worth Jefferson Worth 1926-10-14
Movie The Dark Angel Sir Hubert Vane 1925-09-27
Movie Stella Dallas Stephen Dallas, Sr. 1925-11-16
Movie Romola Baldassar Calvo 1924-12-06
Movie The White Sister Prince Chiaromonte 1923-09-05
Movie Broadway Rose Peter Thompson 1922-09-22
Movie The Branded Woman Herbert Averill 1920-09-05
Movie The Restless Sex John Cleland 1920-11-12
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