Carlton S. King, Wandering Singer and Actor Was He


Carlton S King

Carlton S King

Carlton S. King had a long career before his film days. In 1895 King was a soloist performing with a local church choir in Chicago.[1] At the age of twelve he joined The Hollywood Juvenile Opera Company, taking roles in such productions as The Mikado (Old Maid), H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mascot. Still only fourteen years old, he took a position with the Calhoun Opera Company, working his way up to second-comedy-part.[2]

All of this success brought him to the attention of Francis Wilson, for whom he would spend five years with, playing in The Little Corporal, Cyrano de Bergerac, Erminie and The Monks of Malabar. After Wilson, King was with the Rogers Brothers for a season, The Dearborn Theater Producing Company and a season with Richard Carle in, The Explorers; then starring in The Golden Girl, a musical-comedy.[3]



Carlton King boasted seventy-eight credits amongst his varied stage appearances, which included musical-comedies, grand-opera and comic-operas.[4] In the second week of the grand-opera season at the Great Northern Theater, Chicago, King was cast as Sir Tristan;[5] just two weeks later and Alphons Czibulka and his opera Amorita was an important point in the young baritone’s[6] entertainment-path, for not only was he cast in the comedy opera, nor just mentioned in a review, with this production (presented by O. B. Thayer, at the Great Northern Theater, Chicago, Illinois, August of 1897) he was included in the advertising,[7] and this at just fifteen years of age.

Carlton S King The_Inter_Ocean_ Chicago Illinois Sun__Aug_22__1897_



King toured with The Wizard of Oz (1902), a musical extravaganza by Fred R. Hamlin, prior to its Broadway opening;[8] his was the part of King Pastoria II (the real king of Oz), a character not in L. Frank Baum’s book.



1904 was a big year for the young actor, he appeared in The Tenderfoot,[9] and then in the latter part of autumn, he was in the tour of the musical-comedy, The Isle of Spice, which had just closed its Broadway run at the Majestic Theater.[10] As if that were not enough he also was a comedian, and had roles in dramatic stock.[11]



With the La Salle Theatre Company, Chicago, King took the title role of The Umpire, in March of 1906.[12] He was with the La Salle Company two years, and then he moved on to Cleveland, Ohio, staying two years with the Cleveland Summer Stock Company.[13] King appeared as ‘Ainslie’ in Girl in the Kimono, in Chicago, at the Ziegfeld Theatre, in June of 1910.[14] While in Chicago, King made his initial foray into film (no information available as to roles or positions), with Selig;[15] how long he was with the Chicago film company, is anybody’s guess. We do know that he went back to the stage with the Hunt Griffin English Opera Company, and in May of 1910 he appeared in the Grand Opera attraction, Martha.[16] In the fall of 1911 the tour of the W. P. Cullen production of, The Golden Girl was in full swing, with stops in Montana and Utah.[17] In 1912, in New Orleans, Carlton King was the male-lead in Alma, staged at the Tulane Theater, which was in September.[18] Clearly King was a big draw in Alma, Where Do You Live.? His photo was used in advance notices in newspapers in Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina; and Jo Web production continued its tour in 1913, in the mid-east, mid-west, and into Canada (Vancouver and Winnipeg). In May of 1913, King once again found himself in New York at the Jefferson Theatre, in Joe Weber’s Shop Girls, of which he had the principal comedic lead. Unfortunately, King became ill, and the show closed, with no plans for the immediate future.[19] He appeared in many important roles, playing alongside the well-known stars of the stage, of day: Joe Webber, Lulu Glaser, Pauline Hall, Jennie Weathersbie, De Wolf Hopper, Della Fox and Valeska Surratt.[20]

Carlton King Alma The_Charlotte_News_Thu__Oct_24__1912_

As with many of the silent-era actors, King’s résumé is not complete. It seems that at least two roles slipped through the proverbial crack. Our first title lost from his acting credits is an Edison production released in September of 1913: The Green Eye of the Yellow God.[21] This appearance is taken by remark rather than direct statement, from the local newspaper in Texas. He is listed amongst favorite performers at the local cinema; King was with the Edison Company in 1913. It is evident that his debut was not in The Stolen Models, but in the aforementioned The Green Eye of the Yellow God. The second movie that is missing from Carlton King’s film-history is Olive’s Greatest Opportunity, 1915. This was the last in a series of shorts (1914-1915) starring Mabel Trunnelle. What a film to not be accounted in King’s profile, for as the story goes, King nearly drown in the making of it. The scene in which he almost met death, necessitated his character the Gypsy jump into a hole in the ice, in a river. The crew members that prepared the hole did not allow for any momentum and King was carried beyond the aperture in the ice. If it were not for fellow actor Edward Earle who found and made purchase of the coat of King, he would have died then and there. But, Earl held on until others could assist by pulling on Earl, which in turn saved King. Whew! That was a close one. The camera man caught part of the rescue on film but it could not be used in the story for the Gypsy was supposed to die, unknown to the rest of the story’s characters.[22] Carlton King was almost a movie-star, very close indeed, but nigh unto forgotten today. He had parts in around seventy-five films.

King miscellany for his co-starring role in A Question of Identity, King portrayed a priest, Father Journet, who later becomes a Cardinal. He applied the make-up for his scenes as Cardinal Journet and he had a difficult time convincing an elderly lady that he was just an actor in make-up and not an actual spiritual-representative of the Catholic Church. This incident garnered a mention in Motography magazine, proclaiming he is “perhaps one of the greatest makeup artists in moving pictures.”[23] What a hoot!

The Dixie Film Company (chartered and with offices in the Healey Building in Atlanta, Georgia[24]) selected Carlton King as a director (he had already directed three short-subjects prior to joining Dixie) for them;[25] Dixie Film Company produced two films in 1916 (Tempest and Sunshine and Just a Song at Twilight), but the production company was not successful, and folded quickly.[26]


 Some King Roles:
















Law of the Rio Grande




By C. S. Williams


[1] The Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) December 21, 1895

Moving Picture World, March 27, 1915

[2] The Moving Picture World, March 27, 1915

[3] The Moving Picture World, March 27, 1915 (a short bio of the actor)

[4] Motion Picture News Blue Book, 1930

[5] The Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) August 8, 1897

[6] Motion Picture News Blue Book, 1930

[7] The Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) August 22, 1897

[8] Picture-Play Weekly, April 17, 1915

[9] The Huntington Herald (Huntington, Indiana) February 18, 1905

[10] Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) November 14, 1904

[11] New York Clipper (New York, New York) January 7, 1905

[12] New York Clipper (New York, New York) March 17, 1906

[13] Picture-Play Weekly, April 17, 1915

[14] Variety, (New York, New York) July 2, 1910

[15] The Moving Picture World, March 27, 1915

[16] Daily Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) May 13, 1910

[17] The Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, Montana) October 22, 1911

The Logan Republican (Logan, Utah) November 16, 1911

[18] Variety, (New York, New York) September 6, 1912

[19] New York Clipper (New York, New York) May 31, 1913

[20] Picture-Play Weekly, April 17, 1915

[21] The Bryan Daily Eagle (Bryan, Texas) October 7, 1913

[22] Picture-Play Weekly, April 17, 1915 (nearly a one-third page story)

[23] Motography, October 17, 1914

[24] The Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) September 23, 1916

[25] Motion Picture News, April 1, 1916

[26] The Editor, Volume 43, February 12, 1916


One thought on “Carlton S. King, Wandering Singer and Actor Was He

  1. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

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