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Chester Conklin Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trivia (3)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 11 January 1886Oskaloosa, Iowa, USA
Date of Death 11 October 1971Van Nuys, California, USA
Birth NameChester Cooper Conklin
Nickname Chet
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Iowa-born Chester Conklin was raised in a coal-mining area by a devoutly religious father who hoped that his son would go into the ministry. However, Chester got the performing bug one day when he gave a recitation at a community singing festival and won first prize. Knowing his father would never approve of his desire to become a comedian, he left home. One night in St. Louis he caught a vaudeville act by the famous team of Joe Weber and Lew Fields, who were doing what was called at the time a "German" act. Conklin thought that he could do that act himself, and better, so he decided to develop a character patterned after his boss at the time, a Dutch baker named Schultz. Schultz had a thick accent and a very brushy "walrus"-type mustache, which Conklin appropriated for his new character. He managed to break into vaudeville with this act and spent several years on tour with various stock companies. Eventually he secured a job as a clown with a traveling circus. After seeing several of Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops shorts in theaters, Conklin went to the Sennett studio and applied for a job there. Sennett hired him as a Keystone Kop (at $3 a day). He stayed with Sennett for six years, and became famous for his pairing with burly comic Mack Swain in a series of "Ambrose and Walrus" shorts and appeared in several of Charles Chaplin's shorts for the studio (Chaplin adapted Conklin's "walrus" mustache as part of the costume for his "Little Tramp" character). Conklin was approached by Fox Films to do a series of comedy shorts, and when Sennett refused to match the offer Fox made, Conklin left Sennett and signed with Fox. He stayed with Fox for several years, then freelanced for several independent producers in a series of comedy shorts. Conklin worked steadily into the sound era, and retired from the screen in 1966. His last movie was the well-received Western comedy A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966), in which his character was named "Chester."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Spouse (4)

Catherine June Ayres Gunther (23 June 1965 - 11 October 1971) (his death)
Valda C. Genessee (1949 - ?)
Margherita Rouse (5 May 1934 - 14 May 1937) (her death)
Minnie V. Goodwin (1913 - 1933) (divorced)

Trivia (3)

Entered films in 1913 with Majestic and later appeared in several Keystone Kops comedies.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. Pg. 114-115. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
The "Morning Oregonian" reported him as saying in 1920 that he considered himself one of the four great pioneers of film comedy, alongside Charles Chaplin, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle and Mabel Normand.

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