Carl William Demarest
February 27, 1892
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||December 28, 1983 (aged 91)|
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California|
(m. 1923; div. 1941)
Carl William Demarest (February 27, 1892 – December 28, 1983) was an American actor, known especially for his roles in screwball comedies by Preston Sturges and as Uncle Charley in the sitcom My Three Sons. Demarest, who frequently played crusty but good-hearted roles, was a prolific film and television actor, appearing in over 140 films, beginning in 1926 and ending in the late 1970s. Before his career in movies, he performed in vaudeville for two decades.
Carl William Demarest was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the youngest of three sons of Wilhelmina (née Lindgren) and Samuel Demarest. During William's infancy, the family moved to New Bridge, a hamlet in Bergen County, New Jersey.
Demarest served in the U.S. Army during World War I.
Demarest started in show business working in vaudeville, performing initially in his youth with his two older brothers and later with his wife Estelle Collette (real name Esther Zichlin) as "Demarest and Colette". He then moved to work on Broadway. Demarest, by 1926 also began working in films, often in productions directed by Preston Sturges and as a member of a troupe of actors whom Sturges repeatedly cast in his screen projects. He appeared in 10 films written by Sturges, eight of which were under his direction, including The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. Demarest was such a familiar figure at the Paramount studio that just his name was used in the movie Sunset Boulevard as a potential star for William Holden's unsold baseball screenplay.
He played folksy Jeb Gaine, an occasional sidekick to the main character, in the 1961–62 season of the Western series Tales of Wells Fargo.
Demarest appeared as Police Chief Aloysius of the Santa Rosita Police Department in the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) as well as in a memorable episode ("What's in the Box") of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone, portraying a hen-pecked husband who murders his wife.
His most famous television role was in the sitcom My Three Sons from 1965 to 1972, playing Uncle Charley O'Casey. He replaced William Frawley, who was in failing health. Demarest had worked with Fred MacMurray previously in the films Hands Across the Table (1935), Pardon My Past (1945), On Our Merry Way (1948), and The Far Horizons (1955) and was a personal friend of MacMurray.
Demarest received a single Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in The Jolson Story (1946), playing Al Jolson's fictional mentor. He shared the screen with the real Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer.
Demarest also received an Emmy nomination for the 1968–1969 season of My Three Sons as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Role.
Demarest has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to motion pictures, bestowed upon him on August 8, 1979 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. In attendance at the ceremony and then later at Musso & Frank Grill for celebrations were his My Three Sons co-stars Fred MacMurray and his wife June Haver, Tina Cole, Stanley Livingston, Barry Livingston, and Dawn Lyn.
In 1998 a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
Demarest was married twice. His first wife was his vaudeville partner Estelle Collette, born Esther Zichlin. Demarest helped raise her daughter, author Phyllis Gordon Demarest, from her earlier marriage, in 1907, to English poet and novelist Samuel Gordon, who had divorced Zichlin before his death. Demarest's second wife was Lucille Thayer, born Lucille Theurer, whom he married in Prescott, Arizona on August 31, 1942. Thayer, who later became an activist on health issues in the motion picture industry, was, in October 1960, appointed California's lay-chairman of the American Nurses Association.
Demarest died at his home in Palm Springs, California on December 28, 1983, and his body was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
|1940||Stars over Hollywood||The Town Constable|