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Also Known As: Charles Douville Coburn Died: August 30, 1961
Born: June 19, 1877 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Savannah, Georgia, USA Profession: actor, stage manager, bicycle racer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An Oscar®-winning character actor from Hollywood's Golden Age, Charles Coburn was as well-recognized as the stars whom he supported, and from whom he often stole the show. At times, in a distinction unusual for a character player, he was given star billing. Specializing in hardened businessmen with a soft heart, the cigar-smoking, monocled actor did not enter movies until he was in his mid-50s, but still enjoyed a film career that lasted almost 30 years. Born June 17, 1877, in Savannah, Georgia, Coburn was full of Southern charm -- and so well spoken that he was sometimes mistaken by audiences as being British. He had begun in theater as a "program boy" and by age 17 was manager of a Savannah theater in 1901. He made his Broadway debut in 1901 and, five years later, organized the Coburn Shakespeare Players with his first wife, Ivah Wills. Coburn made his movie debut in the title role of Boss Tweed (1933) but did not sign a Hollywood contract until after his wife's death in 1937. Coburn had another lead in The Captain Is a Lady (1940), the touching story of an aging sea captain who poses as a female so he can live with his wife (Beulah Bondi) in a poor house for old women. The fortunes...

An Oscar®-winning character actor from Hollywood's Golden Age, Charles Coburn was as well-recognized as the stars whom he supported, and from whom he often stole the show. At times, in a distinction unusual for a character player, he was given star billing. Specializing in hardened businessmen with a soft heart, the cigar-smoking, monocled actor did not enter movies until he was in his mid-50s, but still enjoyed a film career that lasted almost 30 years.

Born June 17, 1877, in Savannah, Georgia, Coburn was full of Southern charm -- and so well spoken that he was sometimes mistaken by audiences as being British. He had begun in theater as a "program boy" and by age 17 was manager of a Savannah theater in 1901. He made his Broadway debut in 1901 and, five years later, organized the Coburn Shakespeare Players with his first wife, Ivah Wills. Coburn made his movie debut in the title role of Boss Tweed (1933) but did not sign a Hollywood contract until after his wife's death in 1937.

Coburn had another lead in The Captain Is a Lady (1940), the touching story of an aging sea captain who poses as a female so he can live with his wife (Beulah Bondi) in a poor house for old women. The fortunes of the couple change after the captain helps rescue a shipwrecked schooner. One of Coburn's best-remembered roles came in the Preston Sturges screwball comedy The Lady Eve (1941), in which he plays Barbara Stanwyck's card-sharp father and helps her fleece naive millionaire Henry Fonda

For another of his roles that year, that of the world's richest man in The Devil and Miss Jones (1941), Coburn received his first Oscar® nomination as Best Supporting Actor. The third-billed Coburn thoroughly dominates Unexpected Uncle (1941), playing a retired tycoon who poses as the uncle of a lingerie saleswoman (Anne Shirley) to help her land a millionaire. Coburn is again a wealthy uncle, and something of a fraud, in George Washington Slept Here (1942), the Moss Hart-George S. Kaufman Broadway hit as adapted for the talents of Jack Benny. Coburn won his Oscar® for The More the Merrier (1943), in which he plays a volatile yet lovable business executive forced by the wartime housing shortage to share a Washington D.C. apartment with Jean Arthur.

Oscar®-nominated yet again for The Green Years (1946), Coburn continued his film career energetically through the 1950s, memorably playing Marilyn Monroe's sugar daddy in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and making his final screen appearance as a guest star in Pepe (1960). He also remained active in television and on the stage, giving his final performance in a stock production of You Can't Take It With You in Indianapolis only a week before his death in 1961.

by Roger Fristoe

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Pepe (1961)
2.
 John Paul Jones (1959) Benjamin Franklin
3.
 A Stranger in My Arms (1959) Vance Beasley
4.
 The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959) Grampa Pennypacker
5.
 How to Murder a Rich Uncle (1958) Uncle George [Clitterbern]
6.
 The Story of Mankind (1957) Hippocrates
7.
 Town on Trial (1957) Dr. John Fenner
8.
 The Power and the Prize (1956) Guy Elliot
9.
 Around the World in 80 Days (1956) Hong Kong steamship office clerk
10.
 How To Be Very, Very Popular (1955) Dr. Tweed
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1897:
Moved to New York to pursue acting career
1899:
First acting job, "Quo Vadis" in Ames, Iowa
:
Travelled with various theatrical troupes
1901:
Broadway debut
1905:
Met Ivah Wills
1906:
Founded Coburn Shakespeare Players with Ivah Wills
1910:
Appeared at the White House before President Taft
1937:
Moved to Hollywood
1938:
Feature film acting debut, "Lord Jeff"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ivah Wills. Actor. Died in 1937.
wife:
Winifred Natzka.

Contributions

albatros1 ( 2007-09-27 )

Source: Wikipedia The Internet Encyclopedia

Charles Douville Coburn (June 19, 1877 – August 30, 1961) was an Academy Award-winning American film and theater actor. He was born in Savannah, Georgia and was an only child. He married two times. His first wife was Ivah Wills Coburn (c. 1882-1937), an American actress and theatrical producer. In 1959, Coburn married Winifred Natzka, who was forty-one years his junior and the former wife of Oscar Natzka, an opera singer. Coburn was a theater manager by the age of 17. He later moved on to acting and made his debut on Broadway in 1901. Coburn formed an acting company with his wife Ivah in 1906. In addition to managing the company, the couple performed frequently on Broadway. After his wife's death in 1937, Coburn relocated to Los Angeles, California and began acting in films. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The More the Merrier in 1943. He was also nominated for The Devil and Miss Jones in 1941 and The Green Years in 1946. Other notable film credits include Of Human Hearts (1938), The Lady Eve (1941), Kings Row (1942), The Constant Nymph (1943), Heaven Can Wait (1943), Wilson (1944), Impact (1949), The Paradine Case (1947), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and John Paul Jones (1959). Coburn has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to motion pictures at 6240 Hollywood Boulevard. In the 1940s, Coburn served as vice-president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a right-wing group opposed to Communists in Hollywood. His leadership of the Hollywood blacklist of anyone with any connection to Communism, supported by such luminaries as John Wayne, Hedda Hopper, Adolphe Menjou, Ward Bond, Robert Taylor, Ronald Reagan and Ginger Rogers, to name a few, led to a myriad of talented actors, writers and directors being driven out of Hollywood and deprived of their livelihood. He died from a heart attack on August 30, 1961 in New York, New York, aged 84.

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