Berton Churchill Overview:

Character actor, Berton Churchill, was born on Dec 9, 1876 in Toronto, Canada. Churchill died at the age of 63 on Oct 10, 1940 in New York City, NY .


Hardly anyone today remembers Berton Churchill for anything other than the embezzling banker in the 1939 movie "Stagecoach," a memorable performance in the mood of his plumper successor, Sidney Greenstreet. Yet the white-haired, stout-faced Canadian actor played in dozens of other films as businessmen, judges and fathers, and worked prolifically through the 1930s before uremic poising killed him at age 63.

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Illustrated Dictionary of Film Character Actors).



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Berton Churchill Quotes:

The Warden: All set?
Executioner: Yes, sir.
The Warden: Then we'll start the parade.

Henry Gatewood: [clutching valise with embezzled funds] I can't get over the impertinence of that young lieutenant. I'll make it warm for that shake-tail! I'll report him to Washington - we pay taxes to the government and what do we get? Not even protection from the army! I don't know what the government is coming to. Instead of protecting businessmen, it pokes its nose into business! Why, they're even talking now about having *bank* examiners. As if we bankers don't know how to run our own banks! Why, at home I have a letter from a popinjay official saying they were going to inspect my books. I have a slogan that should be blazoned on every newspaper in this country: America for the Americans! The government must not interfere with business! Reduce taxes! Our national debt is something shocking. Over one billion dollars a year! What this country needs is a businessman for president!

College Boy at Execution: Look, Doctor, when that current's turned on, how long will it take before it's all over?
The Prison Doctor: You mean before I'll pronounce him dead?
College Boy at Execution: No, before he actually is dead. Will he pass out as soon as the current hits him?
The Prison Doctor: No.
Reporter: He won't? I thought it was all over just like that!
[He snaps his finger]
The Prison Doctor: Not with a powerful fellow like John Allen. His body will be paralyzed but his brain will continue to function for... maybe two seconds.
College Boy at Execution: Gee, those'll be the longest two seconds he ever lived!
The Prison Doctor: Long enough for him to relive his whole life!

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Berton Churchill Facts
Radio star Harold Peary claimed he based much of his famous character "The Great Gildersleeve" on the pompous pretensions of Berton's film characterizations.

One of the earliest members of Actors Equity, he sat on the union's council. In 1919 he was in charge of the New York headquarters during the Equity strike.

In 1925, he helped found the Masquers club that led to him and five other actors to create the Screen Actors Guild in 1933.

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