Roscoe Ates

Active - 1929 - 1961  |   Born - Jan 20, 1895   |   Died - Mar 1, 1962   |   Genres - Western, Comedy, Drama, Action, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Mississippi-born Roscoe Ates spent a good portion of his childhood overcoming a severe stammer. Entering show business as a concert violinist, the shriveled, pop-eyed Ates found the money was better as a vaudeville comedian, reviving his long-gone stutter for humorous effect. In films from 1929, Ates appeared in sizeable roles in such films as The Champ (1931), Freaks (1932) and Alice in Wonderland (1933), and also starred in his own short subject series with RKO and Vitaphone. Though his trademarked stammer is something of an endurance test when seen today, it paid off in big laughs in the 1930s, when speech impediments were considered the ne plus ultra of hilarity. By the late 1930s Ates's popularity waned, and he was reduced to unbilled bits in such films as Gone with the Wind (1939) and Dixie (1942). His best showing during the 1940s was as comic sidekick to singing cowboy Eddie Dean in a series of 15 low-budget westerns. Remaining busy in films and on TV into the 1960s, Roscoe Ates made his last appearance in the 1961 Jerry Lewis comedy The Errand Boy.

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