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Theodore Roberts

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Theodore Roberts
(1861-1928)

"There's more to life than humdrum, you don't need to overheat the search engines. The silver screen is a great place to find inspiration and good things every day. Its easy, if you think about, instant visual messages. Plug it in and you're on your way." Theodore Roberts

Roberts, Theodore (1861-1928) was born in San Francisco on October 8, 1861. In his youth he worked as an usher in that city’s Baldwin Theater. He started an acting career on the stage in 1880 at age 19, leading to much work in stock and vaudeville. During his 31 years on the stage he befriended actor Wallace Reid, later supporting Reid in many of his pictures including Nan of Music Mountain (1917) and The Affairs of Anatol (1921). It was when he was nearly 50 that he left the stage to appear in the 1910 silent film version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to play Simon Legree. But his film career really began in earnest in 1914 when he appeared in numerous Jesse L. Lasky Feature Company Productions. He was a most impressive character actor, specializing in men of power often playing the patriarch, king, or dominant heavy. He quickly rose to prominence and was held in high esteem by the then young film industry, which nicknamed him the "grand duke of Hollywood." His trademark became his cigar smoking, which at times seemed to turn into a character by itself. At around the same time, with The Call of the North (1914) he began a long association with Cecil B. DeMille appearing in 23 of the director’s silent films. The role by which Roberts will be most remembered is his portrayal of Moses in DeMille’s 1923 film of The Ten Commandments, in which it is reported that he had a hole cut in his crepe beard to accommodate his ever-present cigar. He was an early member of the Academy and one of the first silent era actors to successfully make the transition into talkies. Roberts was busy making films right up to the end, but due to his failing health in the mid 1920’s his work was reduced accordingly. He died of uremic poisoning on December 14, 1928 at the age of 67 in Hollywood.

(click on photo to enlarge)

Theodore Robert as Simon Lagreee in Uncle Tom's Cabin-Photo-tinted.jpg (53828 bytes) Theodore Roberts-studio shot with cigar and big smile-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (67154 bytes) Theodore Roberts-with KAtherine Florence in The Girl I Left Behind (1893)-Photo-B&W.jpg (54832 bytes)
as Simon Legree in Uncle Tom's Cabin Portrait The Girl I Left Behind (1893)
Theodore Roberts-production shot (Temptation)-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (222481 bytes) Theodore Roberts-headshot with hat-Photo-B&W.jpg (8220 bytes) Theodore Roberts-production shot (Music Mountain)-Photo-B&W.jpg (99661 bytes)
Temptation Portrait Nan of Music Mountain with Wallace Reid
Theodore Roberts-production shot (leacherous look)-Photo-B&W.jpg (8221 bytes) Theodore Roberts-Publicity photo with cigar-Photo-cepia.jpg (19238 bytes) Theodore Roberts-production shot (with look of condisention)-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (146360 bytes)
Portrait
Theodore Roberts-on movie set sitting in chair-Photo-B&W.jpg (8003 bytes) Theodore Roberts-studio shot-Photo 2-B&W.jpg (7607 bytes) Theodore Roberts-production shot (We Can't Have Everything)-Photo-tinted.jpg (77428 bytes)
on the set Portrait We Can't Have Everything
Ten Commandments Poster-Color.jpg (21071 bytes) Theodore Roberts-Publicity photo with cigar-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (74821 bytes) Theodore Roberts-production shot (Ten Commandments)-Photo-tinted-Resized.jpg (322934 bytes)
Ten Commandments Poster Portrait as Moses
Theodore Roberts-studio shot (sitting in chair in profile)-Photo-tinted-Resized.jpg (96832 bytes) Theodore Roberts-with full beard-Photo-B&W-Resized.jpg (112121 bytes)
Portrait Portrait
Joseph & William Haworth & Theodore Roberts

Joseph Haworth was primarily a classical actor, a leading man in drawing room comedy and drama, and a swashbuckler in romantic costume melodrama. However, he had several major successes in plays with American settings. Among these were Ye Earlie Trouble (1892) and Sue (1896). In both these productions Haworth shared the stage with the great character actor, Theodore Roberts. In Ye Earlie Trouble, set during the American Revolution, Roberts provided a villainous foil for Haworth who was the play’s nominal hero. In Sue, Roberts played a tippling sheriff, creating comedic sparks with Haworth’s offbeat loutish leading role.

In the 1902 London theatrical season, Theodore Roberts recreated his performance of Henry Canby in Arizona. Joining him in the cast was William Haworth in the role of Sergeant Keller. The production was wildly successful. The Brits found the Aravaipa Ranch in the southwestern United States to be an exotic and romantic setting. Critics and public alike embraced the naturalistic acting of the all-American troupe.

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