Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Charlie Chan in London will be our movie for our next Monday Night Chat Room (8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. [EDT] at www.charliechan.info ).

So I thought you might like to see a series of posts that Steve Rhodes (an Australian Chanite of note) did for Kurt Schmidt's www.charliechan.net during the week of December 12, 2001.
Warner Oland Insights , part 1
I thought it might be interesting to look into the man behind the first of the Fox Chans, Warner Oland. I've done a little research on him and he was a complex and interesting guy.
His wife, the former Edith Shearns (IMDB says Edith Sharpe) was 10 years older than he was and they were 27 and 37 respectively when they married in 1907. (This may explain the absence of children from the marriage.) Oddly enough though she outlived him by 30 years, dying aged 98 in 1968, having made some 15 movies herself after his death.
They shared a number of properties but mainly seemed to live in a Cape Cod style home in the Carpenteria Valley near Santa Barbara named Rincon Del Mar, facing the sea. The property had various fruit trees growing on it and in sufficient abundance for the lemons along to bring in $60 to $80 a month via an arrangement with a commercial packing house. They also had a farm in Massachusetts and 1000 (some sources say 7000) acres on the island of Palmetto De La Virgin off Mazatlan in Mexico. There also seems to have been a small apartment that Mr. Oland used in Hollywood when shooting a movie.
Their household consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Venedetti, the gardener and cook, as well as Milton Thorpe, the chauffeur who also doubled as the answerer of Mr. Oland's fan mail! There seems to have been at one time also Belle, the Scottish maid, and Miss Ryan, a secretary. But he had neither a valet at home nor a dresser at the studio, looking after his own clothes. There was also Mrs. Shearns, Oland's elderly mother-in-law, who had a bungalow on the grounds of the property. Add to this group the herd of German Schnauzers lead by Shaggety Ann (Shags) and her 4 offspring: Countess Julie, Mr. Chan, Princess Ming Lo Fun and Till Eulenspeigel!
It seems he took # 1 dog, Shaggety Ann, ont the set with him for companionship. And had the habit of taking his lunch to the set each day in a metal lunch pail but the coffee thermos usually contained "tiger tea" (alcohol of some sort) as he once described it to Keye Luke.
Both the Olands were artistic and intellectual by nature, jointly translating the plays of August Strindberg in 1912. And both painted, although Mrs. Oland was the better at it, having studied in New York and Paris, and did so professionally.
Edith called Warner "Jack" after his real first name Johann. And "Jack" had a real life connection to the law fraternity in that his brother-in-law, Clarence Shearn, was the former Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court.
To be continued . . .
Steve
(Courtesy of www.assumption.edu/ahc/oland2OldSF.jpg)

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