SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Charles Lane, the prolific character actor whose name was little known but whose crotchety persona and roles in hundreds of films made him recognizable to generations of moviegoers, has died. He was 102.
He appeared in such film classics as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” and “Twentieth Century.” He also had a recurring role as the scheming railroad man, Homer Bedloe, on the 1960s TV sitcom “Petticoat Junction” and appeared often on “I Love Lucy.”
His crisp, stage-trained voice and no-nonsense appearance made him a natural for playing authority figures. He was a judge in “God Is My Partner,” a prosecutor in “Call Northside 777,” a priest in “Date With an Angel” and a member of Clark Gable’s newspaper editorial board in “Teacher’s Pet.”
Although the roles provided a good living, Mr. Lane objected to being typecast.
He turned to the stage for variety, appearing in a wide range of roles in more than 100 plays, most of them at the storied Pasadena Playhouse.
He was eventually spotted by a Warner Bros. scout and cast in his first movie, an Edward G. Robinson-James Cagney melodrama, “Smart Money,” in 1931.
Mr. Lane remained at Warner Bros., sometimes working in three or four pictures a day. He would be rushed from one set to another and handed his few lines.
Mr. Lane continued to act into his 90s, and when he accepted an award from cable television’s TV Land channel in honor of his 100th birthday, he made a point of saying he was still available for work.
By Elaine Donnelly
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