Charles Winninger

Charles J. Winninger (May 26, 1884 – January 27, 1969) was an American stage and film actor, most often cast in comedies or musicals.

Charles Winninger
Charles winninger capt. henry 1937.JPG
Winninger as Captain Henry on the radio show Maxwell House Show Boat (1937)
Charles J. Winninger

(1884-05-26)May 26, 1884
DiedJanuary 27, 1969(1969-01-27) (aged 84)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles
Years active1910–1960
(m. 1912; div. 1951)

(m. 1951)

Life and careerEdit

Winninger was born in Athens, Wisconsin, the son of Rosalia (Grassler) and Franz Winninger.[1] His parents were Austrian immigrants.[2][3] He began as a vaudeville actor. His most famous stage role was as Cap'n Andy Hawks in the original production of Show Boat, the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II musical classic, in 1927. He played the role in the 1932 stage revival and the 1936 film version of the show. He became so identified with the role and with his persona as a riverboat captain that he played several variations of the role, notably on the radio program Maxwell House Show Boat, which was clearly inspired by the Broadway musical.

Winninger's pre-Code film career includes Night Nurse, a 1931 drama about two girls being systematically starved to death by the family chauffeur. Winninger portrays a kindly physician who attempts to save the suffering children. After the film of Show Boat in 1936, Winninger appeared in 1936's Three Smart Girls (as the father of Deanna Durbin's character), 1937's Nothing Sacred (as the drunken doctor who misdiagnoses Carole Lombard's character), 1939's Destry Rides Again (as Wash, the sheriff), 1941's Ziegfeld Girl (as the father of Judy Garland's character), and 1945's State Fair (as Abel Frake). He returned to Broadway only once for the 1951 revival of Kern and Hammerstein's Music in the Air.

Winninger had the lead role in only one film, 1953's The Sun Shines Bright, John Ford's remake of Judge Priest. Winninger played the role that Will Rogers portrayed in 1934.

Winninger made a notable television appearance in 1954 in I Love Lucy as Barney Kurtz, the former vaudevillian partner of Fred Mertz (played by William Frawley) in an episode titled "Mertz and Kurtz". He made his last film in 1960.

Personal lifeEdit

On November 12, 1912, Winninger married actress Blanche Ring.[4] They were divorced on June 12, 1951.[5] He married Gertrude Walker in 1951, which lasted until his death.

Winninger died in 1969 and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.[6]


In 1960, Winninger received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his radio contributions.


Winninger in State Fair (1945)

Radio appearancesEdit

Year Program Episode/source
1942 Philip Morris Playhouse Friendly Enemies[7]


  1. ^ "The Monthly Supplement: A current biographical reference service". 1942.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Brideson, Cynthia; Brideson, Sara. "Also Starring...: Forty Biographical Essays on the Greatest Character Actors of Hollywood's Golden Era, 1930-1965".
  4. ^ "Chas. Winninger Married Yesterday". The Sheboygan Press. Wisconsin, Sheboygan. November 13, 1912. p. 8. Retrieved April 22, 2018 – via  
  5. ^ "Blanche Ring at 74 Is Granted Divorce". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. June 13, 1951. p. 2. Retrieved April 22, 2018 – via  
  6. ^ "Desert Sun 29 January 1969 — California Digital Newspaper Collection". Retrieved October 21, 2022.
  7. ^ "Playhouse Presents Stars in Radio Adaptation of "Friendly Enemies"". Harrisburg Telegraph. June 20, 1942. p. 22. Retrieved August 4, 2015 – via  

External linksEdit