No. We haven’t forgotten about Charles Farrell.
When we wrote about Janet Gaynor not long ago we noted that Gaynor was extremely popular in silents, and made the transition to sound films in the late 20s, often teamed with Farrell.
More recently we noted that, like many before us, we perhaps too facilely ascribed actor John Gilbert‘s fall from stardom to the fact that he had a high, squeaky voice. That, of course, is part of the Hollywood myth of the transition from silents to talkies.
Like Gilbert, Farrell was a BIG star of the silents who didn’t quite make the transition to talkies.
Oh yes, he made talking pictures, but he was never the star he had been. It wasn’t that he wasn’t a good actor. And, it wasn’t because his voice was too high. (In fact he worked constantly right through the 1930s.)
But his career just ran its course.
From silent hits such as Seventh Heaven and Street Angel, he found himself in pedestrian dramas at Fox. As the decade wore on he wound up in supporting roles, even playing Shirley Temple’s father in one film. Eventually, when his contract at Fox was up, he hit career bottom with a programmer at poverty-row studio, Monogram.
But he had had some run, and personally and financially he was well off. He had married actress Virginia Valli and they stayed happily married until her death in 1968.
And with his pal Ralph Bellamy he’d founded the Racquet Club in Palm Springs, California, a hit with Hollywood’s elite. He was even mayor of Palm Springs from 1948 until 1953.
But then something extraordinary had happened. He staged a comeback.
Farrell had a second career in television. Tv was just starting, and Charlie had taken a role in a sit-com which would be the summer replacement for the enormously successful I Love Lucy. In those days only has-been and B film stars were gravitating to TV.
Farrell was signed to play the father of Gale Storm on a new show, My Little Margie, a father-daughter sitcom produced for syndication by the son of venerable comedy producer Hal Roach. The show was an immediate hit, and ran for three years beginning in 1952.
Charles Farrell died in 1990 at age 88.