• 20 December 1869
  •  Xenia, Ohio, USA

Charley Grapewin


This old codger film favorite, born in 1869 (some reports say 1875), got into the entertainment field at an early age, first as a circus performer (aerialist and trapeze artist). When acting sparked his interest, he worked in a series of stock companies while writing stage plays that he himself could star in. He married actress Anna Chance around the turn of the century, and they remained a devoted couple until her death 47 years later. They had no children. Charley came into his own in films at the ripe old age of 60 as the ultimate humorous, toothless character in a range of films with rustic settings. Notable movies include The Petrified Forest (1936) with Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart, The Good Earth (1937) with Paul Muni and Luise Rainer, and They Died with Their Boots On (1941) with Errol Flynn. However, his best-remembered parts were as huggable Uncle Henry in the classic The Wizard of Oz (1939), ornery Grandpa Joad, who refused to leave the homestead in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Inspector Queen in the Ellery Queen whodunits that ran from 1940 through 1942, and the amiable ne'er-do-well Jeeter Lester in Tobacco Road (1941). A soft, humorous presence who seemed frail around the edges, he was a thorough delight, his folksy presence gracing over 100 films. He died in 1956.