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Carl William Damarest “Vaudevillian and Screen Actor”

Our great-grandmother9 Maria Vigne (1613-1689) was also the great-grandmother7 of Carl William Demarest a noted vaudevillian and screen actor.

In 1946 he received an Academy Award nomination, in the category of best supporting actor, for his role in the Al Jolson Story.

Carl "William" Demarest


January 9, 1984


DIED. William Demarest, 91, vaudevillian and screen actor best known as the cantankerous, sweet-hearted, sourpussed Uncle Charley from 1965 to 1972 on TV's My Three Sons; apparently of a heart attack; in Palm Springs, Calif. He developed his sputtering, comic tough-guy persona in more than 100 films, notably including half a dozen Preston Sturges comedies.

COPYRIGHT 1984 Time, Inc.

Hail The Conquering Hero - 1944

Carl William Demarest (1882 -1983)

William Demarest Born February 27, 1892 St. Paul, Minnesota Died December 28, 1983 Palm Springs, CA Character veteran actor of well over 100 films, William Demarest started his career in Vaudeville as a song and dance man. His film career started with a bit part in When the Wife's Away (Columbia, 1926), with George K. Arthur, as well as fellow character actor Ned Sparks. For the rest of his silent career, Demarest became a Warner Bros. contract player. He turned out 20 features in all, including Finger Prints (1927), starring Louise Fazenda and Marna Loy, with fellow character actors Franklin Pangborn and Edgar Kennedy, The First Auto (1927), starring famous race car driver Barney Oldfield, and A Reno Divorce (1927), starring May McAvoy and Hedda Hopper. He was also in the historical breakthrough, and partial talkie, The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson. He excelled as a character actor by creating deadpan looks of suspicion, as well as his signature look of frustrated exasperation. He often played world weary cops. Demarest also appeared in non-comedy roles and was just as effective.

He was a natural in talkies playing cyncial, wise-cracking sidekicks. More often than not, he played the kind of guy who gave tough, direct, commonsensical advise to anyone who would listen. He was a prolific character artist who worked steadily, without a break, throughout his entire career. Some of films the great Demarest appeared in were Many Happy Returns (Paramount, 1934), a partial musical with George Burns and Gracie Allen, Circus Clown (First National, 1934), with popular screen comedien Joe E. Brown, Charlie Chan at the Opera (20th Century Fox, 1936), starring Warner Oland, Borris Karloff and Keye Luke as #1 son, Love on the Run (M.G.M., 1936), with Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, Rosalie (M.G.M., 1937), a musical extravaganza with Eleanor Powell and The Great Man Votes (RKO, 1939), starring John Barrymore.

In the 1940's Demarest became a stock player for Preston Sturges. He appeared in virtually all of Sturges's satirical comedies (he was responsible for discovering actresses Jane Wyman and Ellen Drew). At this point in his career, he started to develop his crusty, but brittle personality that he would become famous for. He became well known to television audiences beginning in 1957 in the Western series Tales of Wells Fargo (NBC 1957 to 1963), starring Dale Robertson. While he appeared in a re-occuring role in that show, he starred in a short lived situation comedy called Love and Marriage (NBC, 1959 to 1960). Before he replaced the late William Frawley in My Three Sons (ABC, 1960 to 1963; CBS, 1965 to 1972), creating his role of cranky, retired sailor, Uncle Charlie, he appeared in the homage to all surviving comics, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (United Artists, 1963), starring Spencer Tracy. Demarest once again played the perfect world weary cop. He made his last film for Paramount in 1976, Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood.

William Demarest made several career transitions, from the golden age of silents to the birth of sound, through the golden age of screwball comedy, all the way to the television age. By the time he was 91 he had amassed a long and distinguished career worthy of any beloved character artist. He had worked with the best and they with him.

- from The Silent Majority On-Line Journal of Silent Film

Williwm Demarest, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre - All Through The Night - 1941