Stuart Holmes

Active - 1912 - 2016  |   Born - Mar 10, 1887   |   Died - Dec 29, 1971   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

It is probably correct to assume that American actor Stuart Holmes never turned down work. In films since 1914's Life's Shop Window, Holmes showed up in roles both large and microscopic until 1962. In his early days (he entered the movie business in 1911), Holmes cut quite a villainous swath with his oily moustache and cold, baleful glare. He played Black Michael in the 1922 version of The Prisoner of Zenda and Alec D'Uberville in Tess of the D'Ubervilles (1923), and also could be seen as wicked land barons in the many westerns of the period. While firmly established in feature films, Holmes had no qualms about accepting bad-guy parts in comedy shorts, notably Stan Laurel's Should Tall Men Marry? (1926) In talkies, Holmes' non-descript voice tended to work against his demonic bearing. Had Tom Mix's My Pal the King (1932) been a silent picture, Holmes would have been ideal as one of the corrupt noblemen plotting the death of boy king Mickey Rooney; instead, Holmes was cast as Rooney's bumbling but honest chamberlain. By the mid '30s, Holmes' hair had turned white, giving him the veneer of a shopkeeper or courtroom bailiff. He signed a contract for bits and extra roles at Warner Bros, spending the next two decades popping up at odd moments in such features as Confession (1937), Each Dawn I Die (1939) and The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944), and in such short subjects as At the Stroke of Twelve (1941). Stuart Holmes remained on call at Central Casting for major films like Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) until his retirement; he died of an abdominal aortic aneurism at the age of 83.

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