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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 7 June 1877
Date of Death 26 November 1946Paterson, New Jersey, USA  (long illness)
Birth NameCharles Raymond Bowers
Nickname Bricolo

Mini Bio (1)

Charley Bowers led an extraordinary life even prior to getting involved with motion pictures. Supposedly kidnapped by circus performers at age six, he became an accomplished tightrope walker before returning home two years later. He did all types of work over the years, including circus jobs, theatrical work, bronco busting, and cartooning. Bowers was an accomplished cartoonist, and used his skills and highly creative mind to get into the animation field, eventually taking charge of the entire Mutt and Jeff series of cartoons for Pathe-Freres and Bud Fisher Film Corp., personally writing, producing, directing and often animating several hundred of these popular cartoons through 1926. In 1926 he began to give serious thought to live-action filmmaking, and had invented a photographic process and camera by which he could accomplish truly amazing and mind-boggling stop-motion-based special effects, incorporating them into a non-animated context. These live-action Bowers comedies - at least the few that are known to still exist - are unparalleled in their anarchic comic invention and creativity, though, admittedly, much of this is due to the outstanding special effects Bowers created. His character, often a foolish ne'er-do-well or eccentric inventor, was modeled after the standards: Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon. However, although likeable, the Bowers film persona played second banana to the films' conceptual comedy and effects. He made 12 two-reel comedies from 1926 to 1927, most of them released through R-C Pictures. In 1928 he followed with six more released through Educational Pictures ("The Spice of the Program"). No one is quite sure what he did following these last two-reelers, aside from a film called It's a Bird (1930), and two films made later on: Pete-Roleum and His Cousins (1939), a short directed by Joseph Losey for the 1939 New York World's Fair, and Wild Oysters (1941), a short he made for the Fleischer Brothers; both of these films circulate on the occasional public domain compilation video. Unfortunately, Bowers is almost completely forgotten today, though his films are regarded as some of the most astounding of his time, in the opinion of those few who are lucky enough to have seen them. Three of the live-action shorts were rediscovered not too long ago and preserved by Cinematheque Quebecoise in Montreal: A Wild Roomer (1927), Egged On (1926) and Now You Tell One (1926). The third of these can be seen on the "Tons of Fun" volume of Kino's video series, "The Slapstick Encyclopedia." A fourth, There It Is (1928), was recently preserved by George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Seek and ye shall find!

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mark Toscano <fiddybop@yahoo.com>

Spouse (1)

Josephine D. ? (1901 - 1920)

Trivia (2)

According to his obituary in the N.Y. Herald Tribune, he wrote and illustrated children's books in his later years. For eight years during the 1930s he lived in Wayne Township, N.J., and drew cartoons for the 'Jersey Journal.' According to this source, when he became seriously ill in 1941 and was unable to fulfill his contracts, he trained his wife Winifred Leyton Bowers to draw in his place.
In France he was known as "Bricolo." When several of his films turned up in Europe in the 1970s, this was how his name appeared in the credits and on the film can labels, and it took a considerable amount of investigative work before the identity of "Bricolo" was discovered.

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