Charles H. White
(b. Kansas City, Missouri, 18/09/1880 – d. New York, 19/05/1938). Actor. Charles Henry White was part of the second group of actors who, in February 1918, arrived in Cape Town to reinforce the touring American Dramatic Company. Born in Kansas City, he was the son of a judge and, according to the Census of 1900, at the time he was a bank clerk. In fact, originally he was destined for the law himself, but clearly preferred the stage. The actor E.M. Holland was a distant cousin and gave him his first professional role in the play Arizona by Augustus Thomas, in which one of his co-actors was movie- star-to-be Dustin Farnum. He supported a number of distinguished stage actresses of the time, amongst them Virginia Harned, Helen Ware, Amelia Bingham and Maude Fealy. Like Edward Donnelly, at one stage he was a member of the Elitch Gardens Stock Theatre Company in Denver. Immediately prior to coming out to South Africa he was with Wilton Lackaye, acting in The Inner Man on Broadway.
On his passport application of December 1917 he states that he would be travelling to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand for theatrical engagements and in keeping with the pace set by the other members of the American Dramatic Company, acted in a number of plays in rapid succession – Daddy Long-Legs (in the title role), Turn to the Right, The Cinderella Man, Nothing But the Truth, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, The Thirteenth Chair, The Silent Witness and Sunday – all in 1918. In Johannesburg the venue for these plays was His Majesty’s Theatre, in Durban the Theatre Royal and in Cape Town the Opera House. During this time he also took the role of the hero opposite Mabel May in Joseph Albrecht’s sporting drama The Stolen Favourite, but by the time the film was released in February 1919, White had sailed for India.
It’s not certain whether he made it to Australia and New Zealand, but in May 1919 he arrived back in San Francisco, travelling from Hong Kong. By October of that year he was in Where’s Your Wife? on Broadway, acting with Jack Pendleton, who had also been a member of the American Dramatic Company in South Africa. The following year he acted in The Letter of the Law, with Lionel Barrymore and in 1928 he was in Napoleon, with Lionel Atwill in the title role. However, it is recorded that when he died at the age of 58, he was in real estate. His sister, who used the stage name of Mary Hall, was also in the theatre and was the grandmother of actress Diane Keaton. (FO)
Stage & Cinema, 16 February 1918
S.A. Pictorial, 15 February 1919
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