Max Davidson

Active - 1916 - 1967  |   Born - Jan 1, 1874   |   Died - Sep 4, 1950   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Comedy Drama, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

A veteran of vaudeville and the legitimate stage, Berlin-born Max Davidson was well past forty when he made his first film appearance. A small man with hunched shoulders and an scraggly beard, Davidson specialized in playing stereotypical Jewish characters: pushcart peddlers, pawnbrokers, shopkeepers, ragmen and the like. He signed with the Hal Roach comedy studio in 1925, at first appearing in support of Charley Chase. Under the supervision of Leo McCarey, Davidson was given his own starring series, resulting in such 2-reel laughspinners as Dumb Daddies (1926), Jewish Prudence (1927), Call of the Cuckoo (1927) and Pass the Gravy (1928). Hal Roach discontinued Davidson's series late in 1928 because of complaints from Jewish filmgoers; even so, the comedian made periodic returns to the Roach lot as a supporting actor in such films as Our Gang's Moan and Groan Inc. (1929) and Charley Chase's Southern Exposure (1935). Elsewhere, Davidson spent the remainder of his career in brief bits, a casualty of the Hays Office's determination to purge the movies of potentially offensive ethnic humor. As in the 1920s, Max Davidson landed his most noticeable roles in short subjects, ranging from his hilarious cameo as a court musician in the 1931 Masquers Club production Oh Oh Cleopatra to his apoplectic appearance as a shopkeeper in the Three Stooges' No Census, No Feeling (1940).

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