Sidney Toler Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (5)

Overview (3)

Born in Warrensburg, Missouri, USA
Died in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (intestinal cancer)
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The son of Colonel H.G. Toler, breeder of trotting horses, Sidney Toler acted on stage by the time he was seven years old. He was an established star of the theater by the 1890s, long before his career in motion pictures began. He was also active as a playwright and had a good enough voice to be cast as a lead baritone with an operatic stock company at the Orpheum Theatre in New York. He made his Broadway debut in 'The Office Boy' in 1903 and for the next nine years went on the road with his own touring acting troupes. His prowess as a writer equaled that of his performances with two of his plays opening on Broadway while a third ('The Man They Left Behind') was enacted by no less than eighteen different stock companies in a single week nationwide.

Frequently under the auspices of theatrical impresario David Belasco, Sidney starred in Broadway comedy for twelve years (1918-30). Having decided to abandon his successful stage career, he made the move to Hollywood and played supporting roles as a free-lance actor for several years, often cast as police officers, bankers or butlers.

In the mid-1930s, he joined 20th Century Fox under contract. The death of Charlie Chan impersonator Warner Oland in 1938 presented him with an opportunity for a leading role and he successfully auditioned for the part among 34 candidates screen-tested. His expansive, avuncular personality made Sidney, arguably, the most popular incarnation of the famous oriental detective with a noticeably strong line in sarcastic wit -- usually directed at 'Number Two Son'. He played Chan in 22 feature films beginning with Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938), and ending with The Trap (1946). The first 11 Charlie Chan outings were produced by 20th Century Fox Studios. All of them were box office hits. However, by 1942, the quality of the series began to decline. With America's entry into the Second World War, overseas markets began to dwindle. Fox retired the series, but two years later, in 1944, sold the character rights to the 'poverty row' company Monogram Pictures. This inevitably resulted in poorer scripts and lower production values.

Moreover, after years of being typecast as Charlie Chan and given few opportunities to expand his range as an actor, Sidney's performances also became less defined and more automatic. While filming the last three Charlie Chan installments (Shadows Over Chinatown (1946), Dangerous Money (1946), and The Trap (1946)), the actor became increasingly incapacitated by ill-health which resulted in extra screen time for his co-stars Mantan Moreland and Victor Sen Yung. After being bedridden for several months, he passed away at his Hollywood home from intestinal cancer on February 12, 1947 at age 72.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (2)

Viva Tattersall (1943 - 12 February 1947) ( his death)
Vivian Marston (29 August 1906 - 7 October 1943) ( her death)

Trivia (5)

Interred at Highland Cemetery, Wichita, Kansas.
The third non-Asian to play the role of Charlie Chan, Toler was of primarily Scottish ancestry.
He and wife Viva Tattersall co-wrote a Broadway play entitled "Ritzy" in 1930, years before they married. Toler also directed.
Toward the end of his career, he achieved his greatest success playing Charlie Chan as well as other Asian characters. This was despite the fact that the bulky six-footer, who would sometimes tower over other cast members, was most unlike a Chinese man of that generation.
Playing the role of Charlie Chan is the actors biggest legacy.

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed