Charlie Ruggles

Charles Sherman Ruggles (February 8, 1886 – December 23, 1970) was a comic American character actor. In a career spanning six decades, Ruggles appeared in close to 100 feature films, often in mild-mannered and comic roles. He was also the elder brother of director, producer, and silent film actor Wesley Ruggles (1889–1972).

Charlie Ruggles
Charles Ruggles 1963.JPG
Publicity photo of Ruggles from his guest appearance on Dick Powell Theatre (1963)
Charles Sherman Ruggles

(1886-02-08)February 8, 1886
DiedDecember 23, 1970(1970-12-23) (aged 84)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Years active1905–68
(m. 1914; div. 1916)

Marion LaBarba
(m. 1942)


Ruggles was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1886. Despite training to be a doctor, Ruggles soon found himself on the stage, appearing in a stock production of Nathan Hale in 1905.[1] At Los Angeles's Majestic Theatre, he played Private Jo Files in L. Frank Baum and Louis F. Gottschalk's musical The Tik-Tok Man of Oz in 1913.[2]

He moved to Broadway to appear in Help Wanted in 1914. His first screen role came in the silent Peer Gynt the following year. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, Ruggles continued to appear in silent movies, though his passion remained the stage, appearing in long-running productions such as The Passing Show of 1918, The Demi-Virgin and Battling Butler. One of his most famous stage hits was Queen High, one of his last before a nearly 30-year hiatus, produced in 1926. He also played Peter Braley in Spring Is Here, which ran for 104 performances in 1929.[3]

From 1929, Ruggles appeared in talking pictures. His first was Gentleman of the Press in which he played a comic, alcoholic newspaper reporter. Throughout the 1930s, he was teamed with comic actress Mary Boland in a string of domestic farces, notably If I Had a Million, Six of a Kind, Ruggles of Red Gap, and People Will Talk. Ruggles is best remembered today as the big-game hunter in Bringing Up Baby and billionaire Michael J. 'Mike' O'Connor in It Happened on Fifth Avenue.

In 1944, he had a summer radio series, "The Charlie Ruggles Show" on CBS.[4] In 1949, Ruggles halted his film career to return to the stage and to move into television. He was the headline character in the TV series The Ruggles (1949–52), a family comedy in which he played a character also called Charlie Ruggles, and was again the headline character in the daily sitcom The World of Mr. Sweeney, which ran for 345 episodes in 1954–55.

Ruggles returned to the big screen in 1961, playing Charles McKendrick in The Parent Trap and Mackenzie Savage in The Pleasure of His Company. In the latter film, he reprised the role for which he had won a Tony Award in 1959. In 1963 he memorably played the grandfather of silent star Corinne Griffith in Papa's Delicate Condition. Griffith had written the book of her early life on which the film is based.

Ruggles made guest appearances in episodes of various television series through the 1950s and 1960s, such as a time-traveling librarian in "Man from 1997," a 1956 science fiction episode of the television series Conflict, and a 1961 appearance as a wealthy neighbor who offers to finance a European trip for Hassie McCoy on The Real McCoys, in the season 5 episode "Hassie's European Tour". Ruggles had a recurring guest role on The Beverly Hillbillies in the mid-1960s as Lowell Redlings Farquhar, father-in-law of Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey). Ruggles also played Aunt Clara's (Marion Lorne) old flame, the warlock Hedley Partridge, as well as a Mr. Caldwell, whose company marketed soup, in the television series Bewitched.[5] In Wagon Train, he played, Jameson Hershey, the owner of an elderly horse, Herman, that joins up with the wagon train. He played Congressman John Canfield on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show called "Aunt Bee, The Swinger", and appeared as a driving instructor on The Munsters. Ruggles also lent his voice to the Aesop and Son features in Jay Ward's The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

One of Ruggles' last television appearances before his death was a starring role in the syndicated television special The Wonder Circus, where he played Charlie Wonder, a retired ringmaster who talked about his life leading a circus.[6][7]

Personal lifeEdit

His marriage to Adele Rowland (1914–1916) ended in divorce after two years.[8][9] He then married Marion LaBarba in 1942; the couple remained wed until his death in 1970.[10]


Ruggles died of cancer at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California on December 23, 1970 at the age of 84.[11][12]

He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California in the Garden of Memory near his brother Wesley Ruggles.[13][14][15][16]


Charlie Ruggles has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for his contributions to motion pictures on 6200 Hollywood Boulevard, one for his radio work on 6300 Hollywood Boulevard, and one for television is on 1600 Vine Street.[17]

Complete filmographyEdit

Television creditsEdit

  • Father Knows Best (1960) (1 episode) as Jim's co-worker
  • Rocky and His Friends (1960–1961) as Voice of Aesop
  • The Bullwinkle Show (1961) as Voice of Aesop
  • Burke's Law (1963–1964) as O.B. Danberry / Charles Wingfield / I.A. Bugg / Mr. Gregory
  • My Living Doll (1964, "I'll Leave It to You") as Jonas Clay
  • Beverly Hillbillies (1964) as Mrs. Drysdale's father
  • Bewitched (1964, episode: "Help Help, Don't Save Me") as Mr. Caldwell and (1965, episode: 'Aunt Clara's Old Flame') as Hedley Partridge
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1965) (1 episode) as Governor Callahan
  • The Andy Griffith Show (1965) (episode "Aunt Bee, The Swinger") as John Canfield
  • The Munsters (1965) (1 episode, "Herman's Driving Test") as Charlie Wiggens
  • Bonanza (1966) (1 episode, "Horse of a Different Hue") as Col. Robert Fairchild
  • The Wonder Circus (1966) (television special) as Charlie Wonder[18]
  • The Danny Thomas Hour (1968) (1 episode, "One for My Baby") as Stimson

Radio appearancesEdit

Year Program Episode/source
1942 Suspense The Burning Court[19]
1942 Philip Morris Playhouse Friendly Enemies[20]


  1. ^ Parker, John, editor. “RUGGLES, Charles.” Who's Who In the Theatre, 9th ed., Pitman Publishing Corporation, 1939, p. 1309.
  2. ^ Colby, F.H. “'Tik-Tok Man' Delights. Great Audience at Majestic for Premiere of Extravaganza--Magnificent Stage Pictures, Good Music and Girls, Girls, Girls.” Los Angeles Express, 1 Apr. 1913, p. 4.
  3. ^ Internet Broadway Database,
  4. ^ The Charlie Ruggles Show radio log
  5. ^ Bewitched, 'Help, Help, Don't Save Me' (ABC, 1964), script by Danny Arnold & Sol Saks
  6. ^ YouTube: "The Wonder Circus"
  7. ^
  8. ^ “Adele Rowland and Charles Ruggles Wed.” New York Evening World, 10 Mar. 1914, p. 15.
  9. ^ “Actress Divorces Well-Known Actor. Adele Rowland, Charles Ruggles Parted.” The Los Angeles Times, 21 Aug. 1916, p. 8.
  10. ^ “Veteran Actor Dies.” Santa Cruz Sentinel, 23 Dec. 1970, pp. 1–2.
  11. ^ "Archives: Story". Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  12. ^ "Eugene Register-Guard – Google News Archive Search". Google. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  13. ^ "Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, CA". Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  14. ^ "Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)". August 21, 2015. Archived from the original on December 27, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  15. ^ "Forest Lawn Memorial Park". Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  16. ^ Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries
  17. ^ "Charles Ruggles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 38 (3): 32–39. Summer 2012.
  20. ^ "Playhouse Presents Stars in Radio Adaptation of 'Friendly Enemies'". Harrisburg Telegraph. June 20, 1942. p. 22. Retrieved August 4, 2015 – via  

External linksEdit