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Famous Like Me > Actor > C > Eric Campbell

Profile of Eric Campbell on Famous Like Me

Name: Eric Campbell  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 26th April 1879
Place of Birth: Dunoon, Strathclyde, Scotland, UK
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Eric Campbell (born Alfred Eric Campbell; 1878-1917) was a silent film star, who was featured in eleven films by Charlie Chaplin. Born in the resort town of Dunoon, Scotland, he began his career as a stage actor in "fit-ups" (local theaters) in Scotland and Wales, playing in a number of melodramatic roles. It was in one such role that he was discovered by Fred Karno, the famous British impressario, who also discovered Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. Karno, who was impressed by Campbell's enormous size and rich, baritone voice, brought him to London and introduced him to the slapstick comedy style of Karno's troupe, the Fun Factory, for which Campbell would later become famous.

Campbell sailed to New York City in 1914, following in the footsteps of Chaplin and Laurel, who had relocated there a year earlier. In 1915, Chaplin was in New York to sign his contract with Mutual (then the highest sum ever paid to an entertainer). He saw Campbell performing in a play on Broadway, recognized him, and invited him to Hollywood to join the cast of actors in the new films that Chaplin had contracted to make.

Campbell's first film with Chaplin was The Floorwalker (1916). In it, he achieved some recognition for the "escalator scene," in which he chased Chaplin through the floor of a department store. It was in their second film together, The Fireman (1916) that Campbell really developed the role that would feature throughout all of his successive work with Chaplin. A towering figure weighing almost 300 pounds (136 kg), he became the villain and comic foil to the "Little Tramp's" antics.

Chaplin was then the most recognized film star in the world, with countless imitators, including his old friend Stan Laurel. It was therefore inevitable that Campbell, who was a key figure in Chaplin's films of this period, would also have imitators. The most famous of these was tall, heavy-set Oliver Hardy, who was matched with Stan Laurel to create the Laurel and Hardy comedy team.

While Campbell's career soared, his personal life suffered when he lost his wife in an automobile accident. Within a month, however, he had remarried to Cleda Pearl Gillman, after a romance of just five days. The marriage lasted only months, however, before Gillman divorced him, citing his drunken behavior and use of profanity.

That same year, Chaplin ended his relationship with Mutual to sign his $1 million contract with First National (again, the highest amount ever paid to an actor). He planned on taking Campbell with him, but in the interim, between films, Chaplin lent Campbell to his friend, Mary Pickford, who cast him in her film Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley (1918). According to reports, he had been drinking heavily at a cast party held just a few days later, and finally left for home at 4:00 am. He was driving drunk when his car spun out of control and crashed, killing him instantly. Campbell was cremated, but his ashes remained unclaimed for over thirty years, until they were finally laid to rest. No marker was set on his final resting place, and it unknown where his remains were placed. Today, Campbell, who was one of the most recognized faced of the Silent Film Era, is mostly forgotten.


  1. The Floorwalker
  2. The Fireman
  3. The Vagabond
  4. The Count
  5. The Pawnshop
  6. Behind the Screen
  7. The Rink
  8. Easy Street
  9. The Count
  10. The Immigrant
  11. The Adventurer

Charlie Chaplin

Feature-length films: Tillie's Punctured Romance, The Kid, A Woman of Paris, The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, Monsieur Verdoux, Limelight, A King in New York, A Countess From Hong Kong

Selected short films: The New Janitor, Behind the Screen, The Immigrant

Other: Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell, Chaplin

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Eric Campbell