Charles Bowers

Cartoonist, Film writer

1877 – 1946

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Who was Charles Bowers?

Charles R. Bowers was an American cartoonist and slapstick comedian during the silent film and early "talkie" era. He was forgotten for decades and his name was notably absent from most histories of the Silent Era, although his work was enthusiastically reviewed by André Breton and a number of his contemporaries. As his surviving films have an inventiveness and surrealism which give them a freshness appealing to modern audiences, after his rediscovery his work has sometimes been placed in the "top tier" of silent film accomplishments. In comic style, he probably modelled himself after both Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton and was known to the French as "Bricolo."

The son of Dr. Charles E. Bowers and his wife, Mary I. Bowers, Charles Raymond Bowers was born in Cresco, Iowa. His early career was as a cartoonist on the Mutt and Jeff series of cartoons for the Barré Studio. By the late 20s, he was starring in his own series of slapstick comedies for R-C Pictures and Educational Pictures. His slapstick comedies, a few of which have survived, are an amazing mixture of live action and animation created with the "Bowers Process." Complex Rube Goldberg gadgets also appear in many of his comedies. Two notable films include Now You Tell One with a memorable scene of elephants marching into the U.S. Capitol, and There It Is, a surreal mystery involving the Fuzz-Faced Phantom and MacGregor, a cockroach detective. He made a few sound films such as It's a Bird and Wild Oysters, and wrote and illustrated children's books in his later years. For eight years during the 1930s he lived in Wayne, New Jersey, and drew cartoons for the Jersey Journal. After succumbing to severe arthritis, his wife started drawing them under his direction.

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Born
Jun 7, 1877
Cresco
Also known as
  • Charles R. Bowers
  • Charley Bowers
  • Charles Raymond Bowers
  • Bricolo
Parents
Spouses
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Lived in
  • Iowa
Died
Nov 26, 1946
Paterson

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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