Berton Churchill (Berton Churchill)

Berton Churchill

Born in Toronto, Ontario, as a young man interested in the theater, Berton Churchill appeared in stock companies as early as 1903 and later headed to New York City, where he worked as a newspaper pressman, eventually becoming a foreman and leader of his union. He began an acting career that saw him perform in 30 plays, many of them on Broadway. He was one of the earliest members of Actors Equity and sat on the union’s Council. In 1919, he was in charge of the New York headquarters during the Equity strike in which fellow Canadian, friend and actress Marie Dressler assumed a major part with him, which led to her being blacklisted by the producers. With the advent of filmmaking in New York, Berton Churchill appeared in several motion pictures, and in the 1920s, following the use of sound in film, he moved to Hollywood, California. There, he landed numerous supporting roles, usually as the stern or pompous character with such roles as a banker, a state governor, or a land baron. He was much in demand, “establishing what was believed to be a record by appearing in 34 in 1932 alone.” In more than 125 films, Churchill worked for some of the great directors such as Otto Preminger, John Ford, and Frank Capra. As well, he performed with many of the most famous stars of the day, such as Bette Davis (The Cabin in the Cotton), Jeanette MacDonald, Tyrone Power, Edward G. Robinson, and Will Rogers. Churchill is perhaps best known for his role as Gatewood, the absconding banker in John Ford’s highly acclaimed 1939 film Stagecoach, starring John Wayne. In 1925, Berton Churchill helped found the Masquers club that led to him and five other actors creating the Screen Actors Guild in 1933. Berton Churchill died in New York City, of uremic poisoning. He was survived by his wife and daughter. His body was returned to the west coast to be interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

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  • December, 09, 1876
  • Canada
  • Toronto, Ontario


  • October, 10, 1940
  • USA
  • New York, New York

Cause of Death

  • uremic poisoning


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • Glendale, California
  • USA

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