After three solid decades' worth of stage work, Claude Gillingwater Sr. made his film bow as the Earl in Mary Pickford's 1921 adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy. It was the first of several cantankerous old coots with hidden hearts of gold that Gillingwater would portray during the next 18 years. The switchover from silent films to talkies posed no problem for Gillingwater, whose creaky, nasally voice perfectly matched his screen image. His more memorable appearances of the 1930s included the role of Jarvis in David Copperfield (1935) and a brace of Shirley Temple vehicles, Poor Little Rich Girl (1936) and Just Around the Corner (1938). Evidently despondent over his failing health, Claude Gillingwater Sr. committed suicide at the age of 69.