Hamilton MacFadden

Active - 1930 - 1945  |   Born - Apr 26, 1901   |   Genres - Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actor/director Hamilton MacFadden attended Harvard Law School before entering the world of the theatre. At first an actor, MacFadden decided that stage directing was his meat, and remained in this line of work until brought to Hollywood by Fox Studios in 1929. For the first few years of the '30s, it seemed as though every major Fox production was helmed by either MacFadden or his fellow contractee David Butler. It was MacFadden who launched the studio's Charlie Chan series with Charlie Chan Carries On and The Black Camel (both 1931); and it was he who was put in charge of Fox's "prestige" Depression-busting musical of 1934, Stand Up and Cheer, which was an artistic fiasco save for the presence of Shirley Temple in her first important role. Given the banality of much of MacFadden's work, one suspects he was kept on payroll at the behest of Fox executive Winfield Sheehan, who was famous for honoring friendships and favors at the expense of cinematic quality. Whatever the case, MacFadden was eased out of Fox when the studio merged with Darryl F. Zanuck's 20th Century Productions in 1935. By the end of the '30s, Hamilton MacFadden had returned to acting in supporting and minor roles; ironically, he was cast as a suspect in Charlie Chan in Rio (1941), a remake of MacFadden's own Black Camel.

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