Walter Connolly

  1. Warner Oland, Charlie Chan Carries On, 1930.  After three 20s’ films during when the character was minimalised and played by two Japanese and a Korean, there was much interest as who would – could – play the titular sleuth. Legend insists 34 actors were tested.  The few actually named were Noah Beery (who would die in the arms of his brother, Wallace), the Romanian-born J Edward Bromberg (dead at 48 due to his blacklisting), Leo Carillo (The Cosco Kid’s future sidekick, Pancho), Walter Connolly (wanted to be jockey, but prefered eating – and how), Cy Kendall  (his 1934 film debut was as a  detective!) and Moscow-born Michael Visaroff – Dr Otto Von Brom in  the 25th of 47 Chan tales, Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum, 1940).  None  of these guys were as small as Earl Derr Biggers’  creation. Neither, as you have readily noticed, were any of them Chinese-American!  Nor was the winning Warner Oland. He was seen an Austrian that year opposite Marlene Dietrich in Dishonoured, 1930.  Oland, in fact, was… Swedish.  He Channed on for 13 chapters, followed by  a more mirthful Missourian Sidney Toler in 11 and finally, in six late-40s’ outings, by Bostonian Roland Winters. Since when, nada.  So no more  philosophical nuggets like… “Only a very brave mouse will make its nest in a cat’s ear.”

  2. Edmund Gwenn, The Bishop Misbehaves, 1934.     Broadway’s bishop-cum-detective was aimed at Connolly, Charles Laughton and Frank Morgan. But Gwenn nailed bis audition for his Hollywood debut. The UK censors ordered a new title, The Bishop’s Misadventures “because bishops do not misbehave.” Of course not!

  3. Peter Lorre, Nancy Steele Is Missing, 1936.        During the sudden changes of director Otto Preminger and star Wallace Beery, Lorre was rushed in from New York to take over Professor Sturm from Connolly… promoted to the father of the kidnapped Nancy. (Two years before, he was Claudette Colbert’s father in It Happened One Night).

 Birth year: 1887Death year: 1940Other name: Casting Calls:  3