Karl Dane (Karl Dane)

Karl Dane

Actor. He came from a Danish theatrical family and made his stage debut at the age of fourteen. In addition to acting, he also raced cars and flew planes. He was one of the first aviators to serve in the Danish Flying Corps. During World War I, he relocated to Hollywood. Most of the films he starred in were anti-German propaganda films, such as ‘My Four Years in Germany’ (1918), ‘To Hell with the Kaiser!’ (1918), and ‘The Great Victory, Wilson or the Kaiser? The Fall of the Hohenzollerns’ (1919). After 1919, however, he didn’t get any movie roles until 1925, when he signed a contract with MGM. Because of his large grin, comic-looking face, and tall thin body, he became a very popular character actor who would often provide comic relief and lighten the mood of an otherwise serious picture. Some of the films he had a supporting role in included ‘The Scarlet Letter’ (1926), ‘The Son of the Sheik’ (1926), ‘The Big Parade’ (1925), ‘Bardelys the Magnificent’ (1926), and ‘The Red Mill’ (1927). Dane also starred in a series of comedy shorts with George K. Arthur. When not acting, he spent his time working on set construction and being a construction engineer. However, when sound films came in, his days as a popular big-name star ended. Because of his thick accent, he had difficulty finding work, even though some of his friends, such as Buster Keaton, gave him small parts in their movies (mostly in uncredited roles). His marriage to the actress Thais Valdemar, whom he’d married in 1928, also fell apart in 1930. In spite of help from his friends, though, his acting career was over by 1933. Initially he tried to work as a mechanic, a carpenter, and a plumber, but eventually wound up running a hot dog stand. Ironically, this hot dog stand was near the gates of MGM, where only a few years earlier he had been a big in-demand star. Depressed over everything that had happened to him, Dane committed suicide at the age of forty-seven.

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  • October, 12, 1886


  • April, 14, 1934

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