Charley Chase in Thundering Fleas


Character: Director/Actor
Birthday: October 20, 1893
Place of Birth: Baltimore, Maryland
Date of Death: June 20, 1940
Place of Death: Hollywood, California
First Short: Fast Company
Last Short: Little Daddy
Number of Shorts: 7 (3 as actor)
History: Charles Joseph Parrott is the older brother of comedian and director James Parrott. Charley got his start in vaudeville as a teenager and was working at Chrstie Comedies by 1912. He moved on to Keystone Studios where he had bit parts in the Mack Sennett and Charlie Chaplin comedies. By 1915, he was playing juvenile parts as Charley Chase and directing under his real name, getting the attention of Hal Roach who brought him to his studio, supervising the production and directing a few of the early silent films of the Our Gang series. Following the departure of Harold Lloyd from the studio in 1924, Chase moved back in front of the camera to star in his own shorts under director Leo McCarey.
Chase's comedy style was based on characterization and farce instead of slapstick. He played the roles of director, editor and writer in his films, later graduating to sound. One of the most popular comedians of the period, he became very prolific, standing on his own with Our Gang and Laurel & Hardy from the same studio with whom he sometimes appeared.
Unlike Roach, Chase was more secure in two-reeler comedies than expanding into feature films and headed to Columbia Picture to continue his series of pictures, as well as to direct several other Columbia shorts series (including a few The Three Stooges shorts). In the Stooges classic film, Violent Is The Word For Curly, Chase adapted a Nineteenth century ditty taught to his daughters by their nanny into the Stooges song, Swinging The Alphabet. Through his own shorts, Chase started involving broader sight gags and slapstick than his earlier works.
Through the rest of his life, though, Chase started to suffer from alcoholism which took a toll on his life. His hair turned prematurely gray and he took to having it dyed black, but even then, he looked older than his years. Hs younger brother, James Parrott, meanwhile suffered through an medication addiction and died in 1939. Charley was devastated by this incident, having refused James money to support the addiction. He coped with the loss by throwing himself into his work; one of his films, The Heckler, is considered one of his best. The stress soon caught up with him, and he died within just a few months of his brother in 1940 of a heart attack at the age of forty-six. He was laid to rest in Forest lawn Memorial Cemetery in Glendale, California. He was survived by his wife and two children.

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