Monday 12 February 2018

A Happy Birthday to Charles Quigley - Geoff Mayer remembers a star from the heyday of the serials

Charles Quigley
Happy birthday to Charles Quigley who was born on February 12, 1906, in New Britain, Connecticut. After making his Broadway debut in 1927, and a couple of movie roles in the early 1930s, he remained on the stage until 1936 when 20th Century-Fox cast him in two supporting roles. Quigley then signed with Columbia and the New York Times reported that his new studio was promoting Quigley as the new Robert Taylor after he co-starred opposite Mary Astor in Lady from Nowhere (1936). Quigley then starred in 9 films in 3 years, 6 of them opposite Rita Hayworth. Many of these films were filmed at the Willows Park Studio at Victoria on Vancouver Island in an attempt by Columbia to meet the requirements of the British quota system. 

When the British eliminated this loophole Columbia stopped making films at Victoria and Quigley’s chance at stardom at a major studio disappeared. However, he went on to costar in one of the great sound serials, Daredevils of the Red Circle (1939). He also starred in The Iron Claw (1941) and the excellent The Crimson Ghost (1946) as well as a strong supporting role in Superman (1948).

Quigley was a talented actor who never received that breakthrough role that would secure his place in Hollywood. If you are interested I provide more detail on Quigley and the bizarre situation that resulted in Columbia producing films in Victoria to satisfy the British quota system, many starring Quigley and Rita Hayworth, in my Encyclopaedia of American Film Serials  (McFarland, 2017, click on the title for a link to Amazon). This included the first crime adaptation of a Cornell Woolrich short story (“Face Work”) in a film called Convicted (1938), starring Hayworth and Quigley - the last film Columbia produced at Victoria. Thereafter a career that started so promisingly dissipated in the late 1940s and 1950s.

Quigley’s last film role was a bit part, as a general, in Tokyo After Dark (1959). He died of cirrhosis of the liver on August 5, 1964.

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