Charley Grapewin (Charles Ellsworth Grapewin)

Charley Grapewin

Born in Xenia, Ohio, Charles Ellsworth Grapewin ran away from home to be a circus acrobat which led him to work as an aerialist and trapeze artist in a traveling circus before turning to acting. He traveled all over the world with the famous P. T. Barnum circus. Interestingly, Charley Grapewin also appeared in the original 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz, 35 years before he would appear in the famous MGM film version. After this Charley Grapewin went on and off of stage for the next thirty years, starting with various stock companies, and wrote stage plays as a vehicle for himself. His sole Broadway theatre credit was the short-lived play It’s Up To You John Henry in 1905. Grapewin married actress Anna Chance (1875–1943) in 1896 and they remained a devoted couple until her death some 47 years later. Two years after his first wife’s death, Grapewin married Loretta McGowan Becker on 10 Jan 1945.  Grapewin began in silent films at the turn of the century. His very first films were two “moving image shorts” made by Frederick S. Armitage and released in November 1900; Chimmie Hicks at the Races (also known as Above the Limit) and Chimmie Hicks and the Rum Omelet, both shot in September and October 1900 and released in November of that year. During his long career, Grapewin appeared in more than one hundred films, including The Good Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Tobacco Road and also for what is probably his best-remembered role: Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz, after which he had garnered a recurring role as Inspector Queen in the Ellery Queen film series of the early 1940s,. Grapewin died of natural causes in Corona, California at age 86 and his ashes are interred with his wife’s in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California, at the Great Mausoleum’s Columbarium of Inspiration.

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  • December, 20, 1869
  • USA
  • Xenia, Ohio


  • February, 02, 1956
  • USA
  • Corona, California

Cause of Death

  • natural causes


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • Glendale, California
  • USA

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