Gale Henry

Active - 1921 - 1929  |   Born - Apr 15, 1893 in Bear Valley, CA  |   Died - Jun 17, 1972 in Palmdale, CA  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Crime

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Angular of build and with a prominent proboscis, American silent-screen comedian Gale Henry was the likely inspiration for cartoonist E.C. Seegar's 1919 creation of Olive Oyl. A former member of Los Angeles' Temple Opera Company, Henry came to the screen around 1915 when she starred opposite comic Max Asher as "Lady Baffles and Detective Duck" in a series of 11 two-reelers produced by Pat Powers. One of the era's few outright slapstick queens, Henry got as much mileage as possible out of her frankly eccentric looks in scores of Joker comedies opposite the veteran Augustus Carney and at "Pathé" Lehrman's L-KO studio opposite the corpulent Hughie Mack. Henry founded her own company to produce "model comedies" in 1918. Filming took place at the Bulls Eye studios on Santa Monica Boulevard under the watchful eye of Henry's husband Bruno J. Becker, whom she credited with direction as well. Milburn Morante was cast as the leading man and Hap H. Ward played character parts. In The Detectress (1919), Henry investigates the theft of a valuable scientific formula for eyeglasses that would enable "the eaters of chop suey to see what's in it." Unwittingly, the clumsy "detectress" carries the formula on her person and the obligatory chase begins. Her First Flame from 1920 is a science-fiction comedy depicting life on earth in year 1950, when women have the upper hand; Henry campaigns against the hefty Phyllis Allen for the office of Fire Chief in the town of Helpless. Henry basically gave up two-reel stardom in the early '20s in favor of supporting roles, often opposite Charley Chase. They made a fine team and the Chase shorts carried Gale Henry into the sound era where her opera background came in handy in comedies such as The Big Squawk (1929) and Luncheon at Twelve (1933).