(aka Charles B. Middleton, Charles "Ming" Middleton)
October 3, 1879 - April 22, 1949
Born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, USA
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A Lot of Favorite Memories of Charles Middleton
- As the phony spiritualist "Yolando" in the Eddie Cantor comedy Palmy Days (1931), directed by Edward Sutherland.
- As "Lawyer Jones," one of the colorful lost souls hiding out in a Caribbean hellhole in the exotic pre-code drama Safe in Hell (1931), directed by William Wellman.
- As the stern post commandant in Laurel and Hardy's Foreign Legion comedy-adventure, Beau Hunks (1931), directed by James W. Horne.
- As "Mr. 'Sate' Satan," the Devil himself, jazzing up Satan & Co., Inc., to bring in more business
in the 2-strip technicolor musical-comedy short, The Devil's Cabaret (1931), directed by Nick Grindé.
- As "Lip Hop Fat" in a grim drama of the San Francisco Tong Wars, The Hatchet Man (1932), directed by William Wellman.
Starring Edward G. Robinson and Loretta Young, with Dudley Digges, Tully Marshall and J. Carrol Naish.
- As "Henry Steele," the bad guy causing all the trouble in the great "weird western" Mystery Ranch (1932), directed by David Howard.
Starring George O'Brien and Cecilia Parker, with Charles Stevens, Forrester Harvey, Steve Clemente, and Noble Johnson as the murderous mute Indian "Mudo."
- As "Matthew the Hermit" in the gritty pre-code chain-gang drama Hell's Highway (1932), directed by Rowland Brown.
With Richard Dix, Rochelle Hudson and C. Henry Gordon.
- As "Tyros" in The Sign of the Cross (1932), directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
Starring Fredric March, Elissa Landi, Claudette Colbert, Charles Laughton (as Nero), and Ian Keith.
- As the prosecutor in the riotous Marx Brothers comedy Duck Soup (1933), directed by Leo McCarey.
- As "Zaroff," the heavy in the last film the great cowboy star Tom Mix made,
Republic's sci-fi western serial The Miracle Rider (1935), directed by B. Reeves Eason and Armand Schaefer.
- As "Buck Peters," owner of the Bar-20 ranch where our hero hangs his 10-gallon hat, in
the very first of a series of 66 western features based on stories by Clarence E. Mulford, Hop-Along Cassidy (1935).
Directed by Howard Bretherton, and starring William Boyd, with James Ellison, Paula Stone, George (not yet "Gabby") Hayes and Robert Warwick.
- Earning cinematic immortality as "Ming the Merciless," cruel Emperor of the Planet Mongo, in Universal's sci-fi fantasy serial Flash Gordon (1936).
Directed by Frederick Stephani and Ray Taylor, and based on the newspaper comic strip by Alex Raymond.
Starring Buster Crabbe and Jean Rogers, with a thrilling cast (some in several parts) including
Frank Shannon, Priscilla Lawson, Richard Alexander, Jack 'Tiny' Lipson, Theodore Lorch, George Cleveland, James Pierce, Earl Askam, House Peters Jr.,
Lane Chandler , William Desmond, Bull Montana, Eddie Parker and Glenn Strange.
- As "Ike Vallon," sheriff of Natchez, coming aboard to investigate an inter-racial relationship
in the classic musical comedy / drama Show Boat (1936), directed by James Whale.
Includes one of the finest scenes in cinema history, Paul Robeson's stirring rendition of the song that was written for him, "Old Man River".
- As "Emperor Ming" again in the second of the three cliffhangers in Universal's great series,
Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938), directed by Ford Beebe, Robert Hill and Frederick Stephani.
Starring Buster Crabbe, Jean Rogers and Frank Shannon, with Beatrice Roberts, Donald Kerr, Richard Alexander,
C. Montague Shaw, Wheeler Oakman, Kenne Duncan, Warner Richmond, Jack Mulhall, Lane Chandler, Anthony Warde,
Kane Richmond, Hooper Atchley, Thomas Carr, George Cleveland, George DeNormand, Eddie Parker, Stanley Price,
Tom Steele and Glenn Strange.
- As "Pa Stark," patriach of a gang of criminal sons, in the thrilling Republic serial Dick Tracy Returns (1938),
directed by William Witney and John English.
Starring Ralph Byrd as Chester Gould's famous comic strip detective, with
Lynne Roberts, Jerry Tucker, David Sharpe, Lee Ford, John Merton, Ray Bennett, Jack Roberts, Ned Glass, Jack Ingram,
John Archer, Arch Hall Sr., Monte Montague, Eddie Parker, Forrest Taylor, Bud Wolfe and Duke York.
- As "Harry Crowel," alias criminal mastermind "No. 39013," in
another great Republic serial, Daredevils of the Red Circle (1939), directed by William Witney and John English.
Starring Charles Quigley, Herman Brix (later known as Bruce Bennett), and ace stuntman David Sharpe,
with Carole Landis, Miles Mander, C. Montague Shaw, Raymond Bailey (MR. DRYSDALE!),
Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, George Chesebro, Earl Askam, Roy Barcroft, Reginald Barlow, Yakima Canutt,
Edmund Cobb, George DeNormand, Bud Geary, Earle Hodgins, Ted Mapes,
John Merton, Eddie Parker, Stanley Price, Harry Strang, Ken Terrell,
Robert J. Wilke and Bud Wolfe.
- As another long-suffering Foreign Legion commandant, plagued by Laurel and Hardy in The Flying Deuces (1939), directed by Edward Sutherland.
In the bizarre fantasy climax, Ollie gets killed in a plane crash, but is reincarnated as a horse!
- As "Tom Lincoln," Abraham's father, in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940), directed by John Cromwell and starring Raymond Massey.
(Charles Middleton often played Abraham Lincoln too.)
- As "Emperor Ming" one last time, finally vanquished for good in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940),
directed by Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor.
Starring Buster Crabbe and Carol Hughes (replacing Jean Rogers this time as Dale Arden), with Frank Shannon,
with Anne Gwynne, John Hamilton, Herbert Rawlinson, Shirley Deane, Lee Powell, Roland Drew,
Michael Mark, Earl Dwire, Byron Foulger, Ernie Adams, Roy Barcroft, Lane Chandler, Luli Deste, Ray Mala,
Eddie Parker (bit part and stunt double for Buster Crabbe), Tom Steele and Chief Yowlachie.
- As "Captain Cort" in the penal colony adventure Island of Doomed Men (1940), directed by Charles Barton.
Starring Peter Lorre as the sadistic, insanely jealous overseer, with Rochelle Hudson, Robert Wilcox, Don Beddoe, George E. Stone,
Kenneth MacDonald, Raymond Bailey, Trevor Bardette and Bruce Bennett.
- As "Jeremiah Walters" in Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940), directed by Eugene Forde.
Starring Sidney Toler and Victor Sen Yung as Charlie Chan and his son Jimmie, with Robert Lowery, Marjorie Weaver, Lionel Atwill,
Don Beddoe, Leo G. Carroll, Cora Witherspoon and Leonard Mudie.
- As a mountaineer in the biopic about sharpshooting hillbilly WWI hero Alvin York, Sergeant York (1941), directed by Howard Hawks.
Best Actor Oscar-winning performance by Gary Cooper, with
Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias, Stanley Ridges, Margaret Wycherly, Ward Bond, Noah Beery Jr.,
June Lockhart, Dickie Moore, Clem Bevans, Howard Da Silva, Charles Trowbridge, David Bruce, Joe Sawyer,
Elisha Cook Jr., Russell Hicks, Selmer Jackson, Victor Kilian and Tully Marshall.
- As a blacksmith in Shepherd of the Hills (1941), directed by Henry Hathaway.
Starring Harry Carey, John Wayne, Betty Fields, Beulah Bondi, Marjorie Main, Ward Bond and Marc Lawrence.
- As "Reverend James Graham" in Jungle Man (1941), directed by Harry L. Fraser.
Starring Buster Crabbe as "Junga," Sheila Darcy and Vince Barnett.
- As the curator at the zoo in Universal's Mystery of Marie Roget (1942), directed by Phil Rosen.
Starring Patric Knowles, Lloyd Corrigan, Nell O'Day, Maria Ouspenskaya, John Litel, Edward Norris.
Maria Montez, Paul E. Burns, Frank Reicher, Raymond Bailey and Reed Hadley.
One of the lesser films in the Screen Gems SHOCK! package syndicated to television in the late 50's, jump-starting the Monster Boom.
- As "Cassib," a henchman of the villainess "Vultura" in
Republic's exciting cliffhanger Perils of Nyoka aka Nyoka and the Tigermen (1942), based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs and directed by William Witney.
Starring Kay Aldridge as Nyoka Gordon, Clayton Moore, and Lorna Gray (later Adrian Booth) as Vultura, with Billy Benedict, Tristram Coffin,
Forbes Murray, Robert Strange, George Pembroke, John Davidson, George J. Lewis, Ken Terrell, Kenne Duncan, Yakima Canutt,
Steve Clemente, Iron Eyes Cody, Herbert Rawlinson, David Sharpe, Jay Silverheels, Tom Steele, Forrest Taylor and Emil Van Horn as "Satan" the gorilla.
- As a Czech patriot in a harrowing wartime drama about Nazi reprisals, Hangmen Also Die (1942), directed by Fritz Lang, from a story by Lang and Bertolt Brecht.
Starring Hans Heinrich von Twardowski (as SS officer Reinhard Heydrich, whose assassination starts the trouble), Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan and Anna Lee,
with an irresistable cast including Margaret Wycherly , Dennis O'Keefe, Gene Lockhart, Alexander Granach, Ludwig Donath, Sarah Padden,
Jonathan Hale, Byron Foulger, Lionel Stander, John Abbott. Richard Alexander, Billy Benedict, Lane Bradford,
Lester Dorr. Ralph Dunn, Edward Earle, William Farnum, Dwight Frye, Lucien Prival and Frank Reicher.
- As mine owner "Ken Colton" in Chapters 6-9 of the wartime Columbia serial The Batman (1942), directed by Lambert Hillyer, based
on the comic book superheroes by Bob Kane.
Starring Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft as Batman and Robin, with J. Carrol Naish as the Japanese villain Dr. Tito Daka,
Shirley Patterson, George Chesebro, Dick Curtis, Kenne Duncan, Sam Flint, Terry Frost, Earle Hodgins, Mauritz Hugo,
Jack Ingram, I. Stanford Jolley, George J. Lewis, Tom London, Bud Osborne, Stanley Price and Frank Shannon.
- As the Sheriff in PRC's The Black Raven (1943), directed by Sam Newfield.
Starring George Zucco, with Robert Livingston, Wanda McKay, Glenn Strange, I. Stanford Jolley and Byron Foulger.
- As "Ferryman Douglas," hanged for a crime he didn't commit, and returning to exact revenge
on male descendants of the lynch mob as the spectral Strangler of the Swamp (1935), directed by Frank Wisbar.
Starring Rosemary La Planche as his granddaughter who end the curse, with Robert Barrat, Blake Edwards (later a great director himself),
Effie Parnell and Nolan Leary.
A terrific film.
- As "Mr. Stiles" in the "Bowery Boys" programmer, Spook Busters (1946), directed by William Beaudine.
Starring Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall, with Douglass Dumbrille. Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, Billy Benedict,
David Gorcey, Tanis Chandler, Maurice Cass, Chester Clute, Richard Alexander and Bernard Gorcey.
- As the farmer, a gang henchman in the classic film noir The Killers (1946), based on a story by Ernest Hemingway, and directed by Robert Siodmak.
Starring Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien and Albert Dekker, with Sam Levene, Vince Barnett, Virginia Christine,
Jack Lambert, Donald MacBride, Charles McGraw, William Conrad, Phil Brown, Jeff Corey, Harry Hayden and Ernie Adams.
Great score by Miklós Rózsa.
- As "Jason Grood," villain of the serial adventures of Jack Armstrong (1947), directed by Wallace Fox.
Starring John Hart and Rosemary La Planche, with Joe Brown, Pierre Watkin, Jack Ingram,
Hugh Prosser, Wheeler Oakman, John Merton, Eddie Parker, Lane Bradford, Terry Frost and Ken Terrell.
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Last revised August 22, 2005 by George "E-gor" Chastain.
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