Herbert Rawlinson

Active - 1913 - 1954  |   Born - Nov 15, 1885   |   Died - Jul 12, 1953   |   Genres - Drama, Western, Crime, Romance, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Long after British-born actor Herbert Rawlinson had passed from the scene, film fans who'd grown up in the teens and twenties retained vivid memories of his virile good looks and the solid reliability of his characterizations. A stage veteran, Rawlinson entered films in 1911 with the appropriately titled one-reeler The Novice. Within a few years, he was a major star, specializing in fast-paced detective stories and serials. Somehow it seemed logical for the sartorially splendid, every-hair-in-place Rawlinson to jump from motorcar to streetcar and back again in a chapter-play chase sequence -- yet still retain enough poise to romance the willing heroine a reel or so later. Eclipsed by younger action stars in the '20s, the still-buoyant Rawlinson found himself in minor films and -- briefly -- as a two-reel comedy star in Hal Roach's Slipping Wives (where his thunder was stolen by a pair of supporting players named Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy). Too old to recapture his public when sound came in, Rawlinson nevertheless spoke his lines with relaxed conviction, and came in handy for character roles, often playing the "above suspicion" leading citizen who turned out to be behind a city's criminal activities. In 1937, Rawlinson returned to serials in the title role of Blake of Scotland Yard, which, though hampered by a tiny budget and utter lack of background music, was well cast with several reliable silent film veterans. Herbert Rawlinson remained active in films until 1951; he died of lung cancer in 1953, shortly after (unfortunately) being coaxed out of retirement to appear in the Edward D. Wood turkey Jail Bait (1954).

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