The younger brother of actress Jobyna Howland, Olin Howland established himself on Broadway in musical comedy. The actor made his film debut in 1918, but didn't really launch his Hollywood career until the talkie era. Generally cast as rustic characters, Howland could be sly or slow-witted, depending on the demands of the role. He showed up in scores of Warner Bros. films in the 1930s and 1940s, most amusingly as the remonstrative Dr. Croker (sic) in The Case of the Lucky Legs (1934). A favorite of producer David O. Selznick, Howland played the laconic baggage man in Nothing Sacred (1937), the grim, hickory-stick wielding schoolmaster in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) and an expansive Yankee businessman in Gone with the Wind (1939). During the 1940s, he could often as not be found at Republic, appearing in that studio's westerns and hillbilly musicals. One of his best screen assignments of the 1950s was the old derelict who kept shouting "Make me sergeant in charge of booze!" in the classic sci-fier Them (1954). Howland made several TV guest appearances in the 1950s, and played the recurring role of Swifty on the weekly Circus Boy (1956). In the latter stages of his career, Olin Howland billed himself as Olin Howlin; he made his final appearance in 1958, as the first victim of The Blob.
by Hal Erickson biography