Revelations from the Emperor's Grandson


For years, scientists and science fiction enthusiasts have speculated about an asteroid or a planetoid crashing into planet Earth. A classic example of this is George Pal’s production of When Worlds Collide (Paramount 1953). The theme was again portrayed on television in 1953 in the juvenile space opera Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, in which two moons collide in an episode entitled "Crash Of Moons." In 1936, Carl Laemmle’s Universal Pictures essayed this interstellar problem in the classic serial, Flash Gordon. Created by Alex Raymond for King Features, Flash Gordon’s popularity was transformed to the silver screen with Buster Crabbe superbly portraying Flash, and Jean Rogers as the sensual Dale Arden. The fictional planet Mongo was menacing planet Earth with an imminent deep impact, when our protagonists encountered one of the most legendary villains of both time and space - no less a personage than his Imperial Ming, Ming the Merciless, embodied in actor Charles B. Middleton.

It seems everywhere that Flash, Dale, and their friend and colleague Dr. Zarkov turned on Planet Mongo, they were menaced by giant lizards, shark men, hawk men, and lion men. But the baddest of the bad was the Imperial Ming, who was truly merciless. The man who played him, Charles B. Middleton, was quite a different story, and so far removed from the role that has forever injected him into modern culture consciousness. In reality, Charles Middleton was the antithesis of Emperor Ming.

Serial director William Witney in his autobiography In A Door, Into A Fight, Out A Door, Into A Chase (Movie-making Remembered By the Guy at the Door) (MacFarland 1996) described Charlie Middleton when he played Pa Stark in the serial Dick Tracy Returns (REP 1939) “Charlie had the meanest face I’d ever seen. In real life, he was the nicest, most gentle person imaginable. He was devoted to his wife, who was ill with a weird malady called Tic Delaroux, where suddenly the face goes into spasm. Charlie was a gentleman.”

In 1964, William K. Everson in A Pictorial History Of The Movie Villain, The Bad Guys, described Middleton as “the greatest outer space villain of all,” and noted that he also played the shyster lawyer or the truant officer,because of his mean face.

But in reality, what Charles Middleton was, was an actor of great renown both on the stage and on the screen, a devoted husband, and a devoted grandfather to his grandson, Burmon Middleton Hoyle. While Grandpa Charlie was a bad man by day, he was benevolent Old Pal when in the family fold. Who would have thought Ming the Merciless, the villain who almost conquered the universe, only to be foiled by Buster Crabbe, would be referred to as ‘Old Pal.’ Burr and his grandfather Charles had a stage act called Old Pal and Little Pal, shortly before Charlie'’ death. It’s hard to imagine the Strangler of the Swamp as ‘Old Pal’, but it’s true.

Charlie Middleton was born October 7, 1874 in Elizabeth, Kentucky, and passed away on April 22, 1949, in Los Angeles, California. For eight years, his grandson was doted upon by one of the most heinous villains in this galaxy or any other. On many nights, Ming the Merciless and the Strangler of the Swamp would read and tell young Burr stories of the good old days while his mother, a former Goldwyn Girl, had a show business career in mind for Burr.

Born on Valentine’s Day 1941, Burr Middleton took up the thespian torch at a young age. A child actor, he was featured on the Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, and worked with Arch Hall, Sr., on The Choppers under the nom de plume of Mickey Hoyle. From there Burr had a career in the military, in which he was an announcer/disc jockey on the Far East Network, which resulted in voice-over work for many Japanese films and television shows. Meetings with idols such as Orson Welles, Gene Kruppa, and Mel Torme rounded out his time in Tokyo. Returning to the United States via Hawaii, he appeared in Hawaii 5-O, and then immigrated to Texas, where he became a radio announcer once again.

The early 70’s saw Burr back in Hollywood, active again in voice-over work, on-screen roles, and a musical career, which began when he was 18. A jazz vocalist in the style of Mel Torme, and a much sought after drummer on the jazz scene, Middleton truly has a resume that would do Grandpa Charlie proud. (JAH) presents a look at Charlie Middleton through his grandson Burr’s eyes, which will hopefully shed new light on the dynasty of Ming, as well as Burr's own adventures in show business.

JAH: When did you first become aware of the Middleton show business dynasty?

Middleton: I was about four when I realized what it. I would imagine it would be around the time that I began to walk. All I ever heard from that time from my mother was “show business, show business, show business. That’s what you’re going to do.”

My mother was a Goldwyn girl. She was also a starlet and she participated in many little theater productions around Los Angeles, showcases for young people and that sort of thing. After the Goldwyn girl situation, she never branched out or really went for it. My father had absolutely no connection with show business at all. He was from a little town called Shawnee, Oklahoma, and was a career military officer. I was not raised by my dad, I was raised by my mother and my stepfather, who was a captain on United Airlines. I was born in Los Angeles, California.

JAH: How did you discover that your grandfather was in motion pictures?

Middleton: He was a member of the Masquer’s Club in Hollywood, and used to take me to the club. I would see people like Laurel and Hardy, Alan Mobray, Alan Hale, Sr. So I was indoctrinated into his life at about the age of four. We would also attend Saturday matinees, where his serials and films would be shown. He actually attended screenings of his own films. I think every actor does. Secretly.

JAH: Did anyone ever spot him at theaters?

Middleton: All the time. He used to put fear into the hearts of little kids. What would alarm them was he was in real life, not “reel” life, a jolly fellow with a good sense of humor. He was very pleasant to be around, always had a smile on his face. He was like Boris Karloff – he was diametrically opposed to the roles he played on the screen. It was disarming to young children, who would run from him thinking he was Ming the Merciless or one of the Western heavies, then he would give the kids pennies or candy or something. And the kids were thinking, “What is this? Ming the Merciless treating us to lemon drops?”

JAH: Your grandfather’s first stint in show business was as a circus performer, was it not?

Middleton: Yes, he ran away from home at the age of twelve. His father had been a captain in what was known as the Fifth Georgia Regiment, part of the Confederacy. His father was a good man, a decent man, but a rather stern man. He was a disciplinarian, having come from a military background, and Charlie didn’t go for that. He did the thing that every kid wanted to do at that time in America – that was run away from home and join the circus.

His first job in the circus was Elephant Boy. He cleaned out the stalls, he bathed them, groomed them. It wasn’t a terrific job, especially with one’s heart set on show business. From this experience, he had a lifelong love of elephants. He loved all animals, but elephants were his favorites. I have photographs of him in his movie-making heyday, playing with the tigers at the circus on his day off. These were little territorial circuses, like carnivals. They had little dramatic sketches they would do that were based on pieces of history, civil war sketches and things of that nature. So he started acting and writing a lot of these pieces.

He became aware of the works of Shakespeare at the age of fourteen, and by the age of eighteen he had left the circus and formed his own stock company. They played Shakespeare all over the South. They were playing Shakespeare with southern accents, thinking they were just marvelous.

JAH: Did they perform anything other than the works of Shakespeare?

Middleton:: They performed melodramas, which are rather corny by today’s standards. Naturally he was always the villain – although, in those days my grandfather was a darn good-looking guy. He had a rugged look about him, and did play romantic leads at that time, as well as the antagonist roles. The company performed Shakespeare aswell as these original melodramatic vignettes that Charles would write.

After he left the regional theaters, he joined a legitimate stock company. Vaudeville came along, and by this time he had a pretty good reputation as an actor. My grandmother had been the leading lady on the stage with William Gillette, who was the famous Sherlock Holmes of the stage. My grandmother began her show business career as a child prodigy when she was four or five years old in St. Louis. Leora Spellmyer was her stage name, but she and my grandfather were billed under the name Middleton and Spellman in World War I, because there was such hatred of the Germans.

The vaudeville show consisted of a group of sketches, all of which my grandfather wrote. They were known in vaudeville as sketch artists. They did a wild west show. My grandmother and grandfather were very good friends with Will Rogers. My great grandmother kicked Will Rogers out of the house in St. Louis about the time of the World’s Fair, about 1904, (my grandmother was one of the princesses at the World’s Fair) She said, “Get out of my house you no-good cowboy! You’ll never amount to anything!” Years later, when Will Rogers was a big star with the Ziegfield Follies, and my grandparents were big stars in vaudeville, on one of their off night they visited Will backstage at the Follies. In typical Will Rogers humor, he greeted them in the dressing room and looked my grandfather in the eye in front of my grandmother, and said, “Leora, there’s only one thing I hold against you.” She said, “What’s that, Will?” “You married a man who’s uglier than I am!” Later on, when Charlie came to Hollywood, he appeared in many Will Rogers films. He was always Rogers’ rival onscreen. He appeared with him in David Harum, and Steamboat Round The Bend.

Before Charles settled in Hollywood he had come out here and made two pictures, one called Man OfPeace, and the second Farmer's Daughter. Charles became a Hollywood resident in 1929. He made a picture called The Bellamy Trial, which was a very fine role for him. It was one of MGM’s first talking pictures. He played the prosecuting attorney.

He made a picture titled The Far Call, and followed up with a picture called Welcome Danger, which was Harold Lloyd’s first talking picture. He played the dragon in that, and of course that was a villainous role. I recently visited the Harold Lloyd Artifacts in Hollywood through the kindness of my friend Rich Correll (who happens to be the son of Charles Correll of Amos ‘n Andy fame). We went up to this storage house, and the whole top floor is filled with Harold Lloyd artifacts. Welcome Danger was first made silently, and then with the great b oon of sound, they remade the whole picture. They reshot everything.

JAH: Around this time, Charles made a picture with Laurel and Hardy, didn’t he?

Middleton: Charles had known Laurel and Hardy from the vaudeville days. Vaudeville was a small community in those days, not anything like show business today. I know that he socialized with Laurel and Hardy, as he did with all of the casts and crew that he worked with.

He made a picture called An American Tragedy, which was later remade as A Place In The Sun. This was the original, and he played the prosecuting attorney, a role not unlike the one he played in The Bellamy Trial.

Beau-Hunks with Laurel and Hardy was a marvelous role for him. He played the Commandant of the French Foreign Legion. He asked Laurel and Hardy, “Why did you join the Legion?” “We joined to forget,” replied Laurel and Hardy. “Who did you want to forget?” Charles asked. Great dialogue!

They all hung out at the Masquers’. Babe Hardy was the carouser. He was the pool hustler and the beer drinker. Stan Laurel was more serious. He oversaw their material and was the editor, whereas Babe would come in and do a day’s work, and then would want to be on the prowl. Stan would go to the previews in Glendale or Pasadena, wherever they were, and watch the audience reaction to these films. If he felt something didn’t work, he’d go book a cutting room and re-edit. Whereas Babe went in and did his schtick, Stan was the taskmaster. My mother told me a story about if you went over to Laurel’s house, if you lifted the toilet, there was a picture of Hardy on the back of the toilet seat, and it was just the opposite over at Hardy’s house.

Laurel and Hardy were really great friends, and were always breaking each other up. Stan Laurel had a toilet situation out by his pool, where if you were sitting in it using it, suddenly the whole walls would collapse flat, and you’d be out there in the open, similar to the Charlie Chaplin gag with the collapsing building.

JAH: Grandpa Charles worked with Cecil B DeMille on Sign of the Cross. Did he tell you any stories about CB?

Middleton: I remember my grandfather not being especially impressed with DeMille. I’m sure your readers are well familiar with what a great director of spectacles DeMille was. But when it came to scenes depicting real life, DeMille relied on the melodramatic because he came from the old school. Sometimes these scenes would appear wooden and stagy. On one of his films, my grandfather was fraternizing with the extras. DeMille loved to bark orders through his bullhorn to his extras, and he was belittling one particular extra that I believe my grandfather stood up for, and DeMille said to him, “Oh, you like extras, do you, Charlie?” implying that if Charlie continued to stick up for the day players, he might be among them. A few months later at the premieres, you hardly saw Charles on the screen. Now in all fairness, there are several versions of this picture, so I would not go so far as to say that he cut my grandfather out on purpose.

After that, he worked with Laurel and Hardy again in Pack Up Your Troubles. He plays a truant officer. There was a gag where a little girl hides in a dumbwaiter. Shortly thereafter he appeared in Hell's Highway with my friend Tom Brown, who was seventeen years old at the time. The picture starred Richard Dix.

Richard Dix began his acting career in 1921 and was nominated for an Oscar in 1931 for his work in Cimarron. He appeared with George Reeves in Buckskin Frontier and The Kansan, and turned in a spellbinding performance in Val Lewton's The Ghost Ship. At Columbia Pictures he starred in The Whistler series, based on the popular radio show. In the Fifties, Richard Dix’s son, Robert, was featured as a detective in director Richard Cunha’s production of Frankenstein's Daughter (Astor 1958).

Hell's Highway was sort of an I Was a Fugitive on the Chain Gang type picture. Charlie plays a philosopher of sorts. There’s a portrait artist in the film who sketches a picture of Christ with the wreath of thorns on his head. In the picture, Charlie was the model for this artist’s rendition of Jesus. Charlie had kind of that Jesus look, but I always thought that he resembled Abe Lincoln more than Christ. He portrayed Abe Lincoln several times, on the stage and in motion pictures.

Around this time, he was involved in the stage play Kongo. At that point in his career he had already come out to Hollywood and made several films. But he was touring in the stage play Kongo. In that production, he replaced Walter Huston. Walter Huston had played Dead Legs Flint. But in the touring company, my grandfather remembered a certain enthusiastic actor and great player by the name of Pratt, who later was known as Boris Karloff. When Kongo was made into a movie, he was cast in a lesser role.

JAH:Charlie has one of the most difficult scenes in which he superbly straightfaces Groucho as the prosecutor in Duck Soup

Middleton: He had known the Marx Brothers from vaudeville, so it was always fun to work with them. That’s the bit where Groucho proclaims it’s “irrelephant.” I would imagine it was hard to keep a straight face during those scenes. Having played comedy, I’m sure he understood the importance of the timing, but unfortunately they didn’t utilize his comedic talent that much in film.

JAH: How did Charlie get the role of Ming the Merciless in the first Flash Gordon serial?

Middleton: He had worked at Universal quite a bit, and they knew that he was a great heavy. He had verygood representation at that time. I believe he was with William Morris at that time – he may have been with Morris back in the vaudeville times. He was recommended to the big brass at Universal, and with his track record of heavies, I don’t think he even had to read for the role.

When the cast was filming the first Flash Gordon, they thought that this was just a run of the mill serial, and they were not prepared for the way that thing took off, and just how popular it became in its day. One thing that helped to popularize the first FLASH GORDON serial was the comic strip and the radio series, which was broadcast at the time of the serial’s release. The story line of the radio show was similar to the serial, plus the same characters appeared in bothradio and serial format. This is something my grandfather and the rest of the cast were completely unaware of. But what a great promotional tie-in.

JAH: Was he ever offered the role of Ming on radio?

Middleton: I don’t know whether he was offered Ming on radio, but by his standards, radio did not pay enough for him. Radio paid very little in those days. As you know, I have done radio gigs for years and years, so this is no negativity intended toward the medium of radio.

JAH: Tell us about the rigors of being Ming the Merciless.

Middleton: On the first Flash Gordon, which was thirteen chapters, he had to get up at 3:30 in the morning because they had to put the bald cap on him with spirit gum. In those days makeup, as your readers know, was by no means as sophisticated as it is today. The makeup department had to transform Charles into Ming as drawn by Alex Raymond in the comic strip. I must tell you that Alex Raymond started to draw that strip more to look like the actors than his original characters. They didn’t’ start shooting until at least 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning. Buster Crabbe had to go in early, too, to have his hair curled and dyed blonde, but not as early as my grandfather. By the time 10 or 11:00 would come around, they’d do several scenes, and Charlie would pass out from the damn spirit gum fumes. He had eyeirritation as well.

Therefore, when they did the second serial, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, they invented that little hat that he wears. The front portion on the forehead almost looks like a widow’s peak. They could tuck his hair under there, after they had cut it very short. They never considered shaving his head. I think the reason they didn’t suggest to him shaving his head was because of his vanity. I’m sure he said no to having his head shaved, and said he’d rather suffer through a partial skull cap appliance.

An interesting footnote is recently I’ve been searching for Charlie’s makeup kit. It’s a bit confusing because I’ve moved so may times during my life, that like all of us, I don’t know where half my things are. In that kit, I have Ming’s beard, the mustache, and the silver arrow that went on the top of the headpiece from Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. I would imagine the beard and the mustache have disintegrated by now, but one never knows, it might still be there. It was human hair.

Now Charles wasn’t one to rip off costumes from the studio, but having to wear this cumbersome makeup around all the time, may be the reason these articles exist in my grandfather’s makeup kit. This is not to imply that he did his own makeup for the Flash Gordon serials. This, I believe, was done by the makeup staff at Universal, headed by Jack Pierce.

Ming’s costumes proved as problematic as the makeup. Needless to say, these were pretty cumbersome rigs. The late Jean Rogers told me years ago that he would strut, when he first got into the costume, before they were ready to shoot he’d strut around to get into the Ming character for about thirty minutes. Buster Crabbe said the same thing. Many of his scenes were on the throne, so he didn’t really have many scenes where he had to move. In Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars he had many more action shots, and in some of them you can see the problems he encountered wearing those costumes. But then there are those where he is walking through the flames, which are graceful. He never complained. He was a trooper, and to him this was part of the rigors that went along with the craft of acting.

At the time he did these serials, he never knew the effect they had on the public. He was completely unaware of the public’s reaction. To him, it was merely another acting job. One must remember, the actors who worked in serials, were treated as second class citizens. Serials were the low end of motion pictures in those days, by the fact that they were Saturday matinee programmers. There were never wrap parties for those shows. The cast used to go across the street on Lankershim Boulevard in Studio City and they would all party in a bar over there. That would include the grips and everybody who worked on these serials. That was their party, that they paid for. The studio did not pick up the tab, as they would have for an “A” production. It just wasn’t allowed in the budget of these “B” pictures and serials. I would imagine Junior Laemmle at that time, before he realized what a tremendous hit he had with that first serial, probably treated it just like any other serial. In those days, he probably acquired the rights to the FLASH GORDON strip for practically nothing.

JAH: Was your grandfather recognized on the street as Emperor Ming?

Middleton: No. On the street, with a full head of hair, he pretty much had his anonymity. He had a tremendous speaking voice, and if the kids were sharp, they’d realize that the voice they were hearing on the street bore a strong resemblance to Ming. If they were show business oriented kids, it was a sure thing. He could walk down the street, and not especially be recognized as Ming, but he would be recognized for his more villainous portrayals, say in things like Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. He was continually playing roles in between his Ming gigs where he was throwing widows and orphans out in the street – sort of a curmudgeon vibe. He got more public recognition for those than for Ming.

You must understand, my grandfather’s philosophy was like the British actor’s philosophy, you did whatever role came your way. You played a butler one week that was a small walk-on, but you might play the lead the next week. His ideal was to keep working. He was a repertory actor, whether it be on stage or screen. Now my mother, who was pretty hip at the time, used to criticize him for that. They used to get into terrible fights about that. She’d say, “Dad, don’t take that! You played Ming, or Pa Stark, or Ken Colton.” And he’d reply, “Well, the money’s the same!” To him, it was a job. Unfortunately, at the end of his life, this philosophy hurt him professionally. In the past, he had made a lot of “A” pictures, especially those Will Rogers shows.

JAH: Shortly after the second Flash Gordon serial, Charles starred in the second Dick Tracy serial, Dick Tracy Returns.

Middleton: The people at Republic were well familiar with Charles’ career as a heavy. He was on their list of heavies – Charlie Middleton, Fred Kohler, a list of 10-12 heavies that they used on and off. They called his agent and asked, “Is he available?” all spur of the moment.

JAH: Was he under contract to Republic?

Middleton: He was never under contract to anybody. He was always a freelancer. In the beginning he was represented by William Morris – THE William Morris, the man who actually founded the agency. Unfortunately, my mother was proven to be right, because in later years he had lesser representation. In the end, he regretted not taking my mother’s advice. In the last years of his life he regretted this even more, because he was only doing one picture a year, the PRC’s and the Monograms.

JAH: On Dick Tracy Returns, Charlie worked with a plethora of serial stars – Jack Ingram, John Merton, and in an early film appearance, character actor Ned Glass, and the legendary stunt man, Dave Sharpe.

Middleton: Charlie loved Dave Sharpe. He worked with him a year later in Republic’s Daredevils of the Red Circle. Sharpe was such an excellent stunt man that he got more work stunting than he did acting. Dave acted in early Hal Roach productions, and that he was a damn fine actor as well as a stunt man. He was great in those juvenile roles. He wasn’t very tall, but he carried himself with authority. Charlie and the other actors were always standing on the other side of the camera watching what was going on, and Davey never ceased to mesmerize them with his acrobatic ability.

Dave Sharpe was paid a lot of money when he did those stunts. My grandfather told me about a situation involving John Ford. The gag was that he jumped out of a tree into a very small creek., almost an impossible stunt. The first take, he hit it right on the mark., and he said, “Mr. Ford, I’d like to do it again.” Pappy Ford said, “It was perfect. No.” And Dave replied, “I’ll do it for free.” So the second time he did it was more dynamic than the first.

JAH: Charles played a sheriff in James Whale’s production of Showboat (Universal 1936)

Middleton: He played Sheriff Vallin. He arrested Julie, who was half black and half white. It was the role that Ava Gardner played in the remake. I believe Helen Morgan played the role in Whale’s production of Showboat. Allan Jones played Ravenal the gambler, and Irene Dunne played the female lead. It was not a very large role, but Charlie thought James Whale was extremely competent as a director.

You have to remember when he made the Flash Gordon serials, he was in his mid 60’s. He would go from one picture to another. An example would be The Good Earth that he made around the same time as Showboat and the Flash Gordons, and in that film he played a one-eyed Chinese farmer. That was one hell of a makeup job he had to endure for that. Kind of a Lon Chaney Senior situation, only Charlie didn’t do his own makeup. The Chinese farmer was featured in the 1937 Players Directory, which was the size of a small phone book. Today, the Players Directories are five large sized phone books. But in 1937, the Players Directory was a slim volume. Most actors were allowed two head shots, and in the case of my grandfather, the one-eyed Chinese farmer was one of them. There was another, more contemporary shot of him. As I recall, he is actually only in one sequence of the film, where they are bartering for food. That was one of Paul Muni’s greatest performances.

Around this time he also appeared in The Grapes of Wrath. That was a favor done for him by John Ford. Ford loved him. The reason why John Ford loved him was because they were old troopers. Charlie Middleton was a no-nonsense guy. He was known as “One-Take Middleton.” That’s why Katzman and all those people used him later in his career. If you had Charlie, he was a fast study, even his older years he could look at a page of dialogue and have it memorized. That’s one of the reasons he and Pappy Ford hit it off.

He has a famous scene with Henry Fonda, where he proclaims “We don’t allow no Oakies in this town!” The unusual thing about that particular scene for me was that Ford didn’t cover him with a camera on that. He used a far shot instead of a series of close-ups or a medium shot. As I recall, there’s not even a two shot in the finished film. The voice is the only way that you know it was him.

JAH: He worked with the legendary John Carradine on that film, didn’t he?

Middleton: Charlie and John Carradine probably did more pictures than I know about together, but that was one. He also worked with John Carradine in Jesse James. He plays the doctor in Jesse James, “Any man who would leave his wife at a time like this…” that was Charles’ main speech in that show. But to him, it was another one of his day jobs. Certain people told him not to do that role, but he did.

In Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise, Charlie portrayed the male half of an older couple aboard ship. It was a nice role, but once again, it was another couple of days’ work. As I recall, he enjoyed working with Sidney Toler. I don’t remember any stories about that. The old Los Angeles County Museum across from the L.A. Coliseum had a statue of Toler down there. They had him on a corner. The statue was in Charlie Chan garb. It wasn’t a wax figure, it was a painted statue.

From there, he worked on Abe Lincoln in Illinois, where he plays Abe Lincoln’s father, with Raymond Massey playing the adult Abe Lincoln. Charlie played Abe Lincoln five or six times that I know of, including a short that he did with Alan Mobray. They all sang together in that one. That was for Paramount. The last time he played Abe Lincoln he went up to Las Vegas, probably in the late 40’s, and they paid him a tremendous amount of money in cash. My grandfather had a great old black Chrysler four-door in those days. He did the Gettysburg Address twice, which takes about six minutes. They gave him that money, he didn’t gamble, put it right in his pocket and he drove back to Los Angeles. I remember as a little boy, he came in – my mother and stepfather were living with him at that time – put that cash in a pile on the table, and he said, “I’m the highest paid actor in the world!” And my mother said, “What do you mean, Dad?” And he said, “This is what I was just paid for six minutes’ work!” He was being facetious, of course, but it was a sizable amount of money, and I still have the ad they took out from the New Frontier Hotel “Famous Star of Stage and Screen Charles Middleton Will Deliver the Gettysburg Address on Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12th.”

He was in Virginia City with Errol Flynn for Warner Brothers in 1940, and Universal’s Mystery of Marie Roget in 1942. Also in 1942 he was in Republic’s Perils of Nyoka, where he once again portrayed a villain. In Men of San Quentin, also in 1942, he portrays a villainous double-dealing prison guard.

Coming soon - Part Two of Burr Middleton.

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