Versatile character actor Lucien Littlefield attended a military academy before making his first stage appearance at the age of 17, and his first film in 1913. Short and balding even in his teens, Littlefield began impersonating old men before he was of voting age. In 1925, he played the grizzled comedy relief sidekick of William S. Hart (27 years Littlefield's senior!) in Tumbleweeds; three years later he portrayed the sore-footed father of Mary Pickford (born two years before Littlefield) in My Best Girl. His most memorable silent role was as the menacing red-herring doctor in the "old dark house" mystery The Cat and the Canary (1927).
When talkies came in, Littlefield was able to provide a fresh new voice for each characterization. He starred in his own Vitaphone short subjects series, The Potters, and played roles both large and small in any number of feature films. He was veterinarian Horace Meddick in Laurel and Hardy's Sons of the Desert (1934), a prissy office manager in W.C. Fields' The Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935), the snobbish Belknap-Jackson in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), and an ancient rustic sheriff in Whistling in Brooklyn (1942). In Paramount's Henry Aldrich "B"-picture series of the 1940s, Littlefield played the recurring role of ill-tempered schoolteacher Mr. Crosley. He also wrote several screenplays, most notably the Charlie Ruggles/Mary Boland vehicle Early to Bed (1936). Reversing the usual process, Lucien Littlefield's characters became younger as he grew older, as witness his spirited performances on such TV series as Superman and The Abbott and Costello Show.