Charles Lane – Trust Me, You’ll Know Him By Sight

As character actors go, he had quite a career. He was always the stiff, stern company man or governmental hack – the guy who had a ready “no” for anything you needed.

Charles Lane’s resume on IMDB is as long as your arm. There are 300+ entries, many of them for multiple appearances on the same TV series. On Bewitched alone he was Mr. Roland, Mr. Cushman, Mr. Jameson, Mr. Harmon and Mr. Mr. Meikeljohn.

Like most character actors, he wasn’t well known by name. If you’re too well known, your value as a ‘character’ diminishes. The ratio of those who knew him to those who knew his name had to be 100:1, maybe more.

From the LA Times: “His roles were so numerous that he told TV Guide in 1965 that he would occasionally see himself in movies on TV and have no memory of having played that role.”

I most remember Charles Lane as Homer Bedloe, president of the railroad (the CF&RW) that employed Floyd and Charlie and ran the Cannonball between Hooterville and Pixley with that stop at Petticoat Junction’s “Shady Rest Hotel.”

Mr. Bedloe was out to get Kate Bradley, while Kate’s Uncle Joe tried to get Bedloe. Kate was always victorious. By definition, everyone on Petticoat Junction prevailed against Uncle Joe! Homer Bedloe never got more than a Pyrrhic victory.

It wasn’t until I read about him in Wikipedia and saw his ‘original’ name (Charles Gerstle Levison) that I realized he was Jewish. They had Jews in San Fransisco in 1905? Who knew?

Charles Lane was 102 when he died on Monday in Southern California. He was one of my all-time favorite mean people.

A documentary on his life is in production. I’d like to see “You Know the Face” when it’s released. Meanwhile, the clip below is from Nickelodeon on the occasion of his 100th birthday.

6 thoughts on “Charles Lane – Trust Me, You’ll Know Him By Sight”

  1. Did he know Burt Mustin? I’ll bet he did. Burt had the same kind of career but almost never the bad guy.

  2. Thanks for posting the Charles Lane clip… He’s the last of a wonderful breed, the character actor who could slip effortlessly into a minor role in almost any prime time series.

    And while he usually portrayed the kind of cold-blooded character who’d forclose on a widow’s house or turn down your health insurance claim, he was probably a terrific guy. You don’t get steady work in Hollywood for 50 years if you’re really the Grim Reaper. In fact, I recall reading around the time he turned 100 that a friendship with Lucille Ball when they were both breaking in to Hollywood in the mid-’30s led to his many roles on I Love Lucy.

  3. Like virtually everyone else, I didn’t know the name but knew the face immediately. Back when I was a kid, it was virtually impossible for a month to go by without seeing him on TV or in a movie. Good actor, too, and while I hear that in real life he was a nice guy, on screen he was the very embodiment of that cranky person in everyone’s life.

  4. Here’s an odd piece of trivia that involves Mr. Lane. He was a small baby, just a year old at the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. That meant he was one of the last known survivors of that disaster. Of course, he was far too young to have any recall of it.

  5. This was such a nice clip! Thanks for sharing!! We really DO know the faces and not the names…. What a spry man at 100!!! Evi

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