Reginald Barlow

Reginald Harry Barlow (June 17, 1866 – July 6, 1943) was a veteran stage and screen character actor, author, and film director. He was a busy performer in Hollywood films of the 1930s.

Reginald Barlow
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Pearson's Magazine, July 1910
Reginald Harry Barlow

(1866-06-17)June 17, 1866
DiedJuly 6, 1943(1943-07-06) (aged 77)
Other namesMajor Reginald Barlow
Years active1915–1943
Spouse(s)Selma Rose (1903–1933) (her death)
Carol Brown (1934–1943) (his death)

Early lifeEdit

A native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and son of the old-time minstrel, Milt G. Barlow (1843–1904), Barlow made his stage debut at the age of twelve in his father's minstrel troupe of Barlow, Wilson, Primrose, and West.[1]

Barlow joined the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment on October 22, 1899, for service in South Africa during the Second Boer War. According to newspaper and other accounts, he did also serve in the United States Army during the Spanish–American War and World War I, and eventually rose to the rank of full colonel in 1923.[2][3]

Barlow had thoughts of quitting the stage for the church in 1908 and at the time remarked to an interviewer: "All my ancestors have been soldiers, actors, and ministers, and some of them all three. I am a direct descendant of Bishop Barlow of the days of Henry VIII."


Barlow in The Mad Monster (1942)

A distinguished-looking actor who lent an air of dignity to any role he played, in the early part of his stage career he landed leading roles in The Silver King, Monte Cristo, The Sign of the Cross, Old Lady 31, and The Little Princess.

Among his early silent films were The Cinema Murder (1919), the post World War I drama Love's Flame in which he plays the father-in-law: "M. De Ronsard", and in the comedy Clothes Make the Pirate (1925) in which he plays "Captain Montague", a cameo. After the changeover to sound, Barlow usually played men of means, such as military officers, senators, and bankers, turning up as a college professor in Horse Feathers (1932), with the Marx Brothers, a chaplain in Ann Vickers (1933), the sheriff in Tower of London (1939), and the Professor Warwick ostracizing mad scientist George Zucco in The Mad Monster (1942).

Further, as the American Legion Hollywood Post 43 was often included in the older films without giving any actual credit as to which members of the Post were actually shown within the films, its highly likely that Barlow did also often appear in films as an uncredited member of Hollywood Post 43.


Barlow functioned as a director of play companies before switching over to film. He was director of the Wright Huntington Players, narrated for the Eveready Hour, and on at least one occasion directed a film itself. It appears Barlow did play a director's sort of role in several films much as did Alfred Hitchcock, who was known to have made at least a cameo appearance in every one of his films. His film The Toy Maker of Leyden (1915) is listed as The Magic Toy Maker in Hanson & Givenson, eds. American Film Institute Catalogue Index, vol. F1, 1911–1920.


Barlow married at least two times, but he did say on the 1930 Census that he was 22 years old at his first marriage.[1] He married Clare Danforth, on April 15, 1902, in Charleston, Missouri. This "marriage", however, was subsequently refuted by the family of Bertha Merkel, infra, and was apparently an extortion attempt.[4]

He married Milwaukee heiress Bertha Merkel (aka: Selma Rose), the daughter of George and Mary Merkel, on August 6, 1903, in Los Angeles, California, and to whom he remained married until her death in 1933. He later married Carol Brown (of Pasadena, California), to whom he was married at the time of his death, according to his death certificate and according to the Los Angeles Times of 1934 when he married Carol in Tijuana, Mexico.


Uplifters Club 13 September 1941; Barlow, center

On August 21, 1903, the Chicago Inter Ocean reported that Barlow had committed bigamy. According to Barlow's first wife, who claimed that he married her under the pseudonym Livingston, the couple were not divorced at the time of his second marriage to Bertha Merkel. However, the Los Angeles Times subsequently published an article on August 28, 1903, which completely exhonorated Barlow, who had just recently converted to Catholicism in order to marry Bertha, of any wrongdoing. It was actually Barlow's new mother-in-law, Mary Merkel, who had earlier initiated an investigation and upon discovery, prosecution of Barlow, which of course never happened.




^ 1 Confer Los Angeles Times, Friday Morning, 14 Sep 1934, Part I, p. 15, col. 2, article: "Reginald Barlow to Play Lead in 'Blood on Moon'." The article clearly states that he "began his theatrical career at the age of 12 in his father's troupe."

^ 2 See Bunches of Barlows link which clearly shows Reginald, a confirmed member of the American Legion Hollywood Post 43, to be a Colonel. The picture there also shows him presenting Shirley Temple with a certificate as a new "Honorary Colonel" in 1935. The same website also shows that in the New York Times of 7 July 1943, Reginald Barlow was a Colonel who commanded the 304th Infantry in World War I for the United States, and was a veteran of two other wars: the Spanish–American War and The Second Boer War.

^ 3 See also: Keffer, History of San Fernando Valley (1934), pp. 118–120; where it in fact states that Barlow commanded the 302nd Infantry as a Major, and then was later given the command of the 349th as a Lieutenant-Colonel during World War I.

^ 4 Confer Los Angeles Daily Times, Friday, 28 Aug 1903, p. 4, cols. 3–4, article: "Actor Barlow's Wife".


  • Los Angeles Daily Times, Monday, 10 Aug 1903, p. 9, col. 1, article: "Lost Heart on Pullman"
  • Los Angeles Sunday Times, 23 Aug 1903, p. 4, cols. 6–7, article: "Bride's Momma After Actor Reggie Barlow"
  • Los Angeles Daily Times, Friday, 28 Aug 1903, p. 4, cols. 3–4, article: "Actor Barlow's Wife"
  • The Stars and Stripes, Vol 1, No 50, France, Friday, 17 Jan 1919, p. 2, col. 4, article: "Show Each Night, Plan of Biggest Booking Agency"
  • Los Angeles Times, Friday Morning, 14 Sep 1934, Part I, p. 15, col. 2, article: "Reginald Barlow to Play Lead in 'Blood on Moon'."
  • New York Times, Wednesday, 7 Jul 1943, p. 19, col. 3, article: "R. Barlow is Dead; Actor and Soldier"
  • Frank M. Keffer, History of San Fernando Valley (1934), R 979.41 L88Ke, pp. 118–120, bio entitled: "Col. Reginald Barlow"
  • Variety, 14 Jul 1943, article: "Obituaries, Reginald Barlow"


  1. ^ The service records for 7012 Lance Corporal R.H. Barlow of The Royal Canadian Regiment showed that he was married, with two children, in 1899 on enlistment for the South African War. His name is presented variously in the service record as "R.H. Barlow", "Reginald H. Barlow", "Reginald Barry Barlow", and "Reginald Harry Barlow".

External linksEdit