Sidney Toler

Sidney Toler

Highest Rated: 80% Charlie Chan At The Wax Museum (1940)

Lowest Rated: 20% King of Chinatown (1939)

Birthday: Invalid date

Birthplace: Not Available

Sidney Sommers Toler was born in Warrensburg, MO, the son of a renowned horse-breeder, Col. H.G. Toler, in 1874; three weeks later, the family moved to a stock farm near Wichita, KS, where he grew up. From an early age, he showed an interest in acting, and got his start at seven when he played Tom Sawyer in an adaptation written by his mother (this in a period in which the author Samuel Clemens was very much alive and the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was a popular contemporary work). Toler enrolled in the University of Kansas but abandoned his studies in favor of pursuing a career as an actor after receiving some words of encouragement during a brief encounter with actress Julia Marlowe. At 18, he headed to New York. He did a stint in the Corse Payton stock company, based in Brooklyn, where he became a leading man specializing in romantic parts over a period of four years.Toler later had his own stock company, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for five years, and became a successful playwright, authoring The Dancing Masters, The Belle of Richmond, The House on the Sands, Ritzy, and The Golden Age, among many other plays. One of his works, The Man They Left Behind, was a major hit regionally and was being performed simultaneously by 18 different companies, and Toler himself once had a dozen different acting companies on the road performing his work. Two of his plays, Golden Days and The Exile, were also produced on Broadway. But it was during his 14 years with producer David Belasco that Toler became a Broadway star, culminating with his portrayal of Kelly the iceman in A Wise Child. Following a run of the play in Boston, Hollywood beckoned; with the full arrival of sound, the film mecca was suddenly desperate for experienced stage actors -- and in 1929 he made the move into films. Over the next nine years, he worked in 50 movies, in everything from comedies to Westerns, including Madame X, White Shoulders, Tom Brown of Culver, Our Relations (playing the belligerent ship's captain in the Laurel and Hardy comedy), and The Phantom President. In 1938, fate took a hand when Warner Oland, the Swedish actor who had portrayed Honolulu-based police detective Charlie Chan in 16 movies for Fox, passed away. Toler was selected by the studio to succeed him in the role, and he immediately began receiving the largest amount of mail he had ever gotten in connection with his screen career, from fans of the Chan movies offering him encouragement and advice, which mostly consisted of urgings to mimic Oland was much as possible. Instead, with the support of the director, he went back to the six Chan novels written by Biggers (who had died in 1933) and reconstructed the character based on what he took out of those pages. Toler, who stood six feet and was a solid 190 pounds, created the illusion of being smaller and heavier in the role. The first two of his Chan movies, Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) and Charlie Chan in Reno (1939), proved so popular at the box office that Toler was signed to a long-term contract in August of 1939. Toler brought a good deal of warmth and wry humor to the role of the police detective, and had excellent interaction with Victor Sen Yung, who played the detective's number-two son, Jimmy. The Chan pictures, which usually clocked in at under 80 minutes and occasionally under 70 by the mid-'30s, were studio programmers, essentially classy B-pictures made on reasonable but fixed budgets; they were also bread-and-butter revenue pictures, guaranteed money-makers and perennially popular. When Toler took over the role, they remained in this category, and if they were never opulent, they were good-looking productions whose mysteries and twists were ever-teasing and enticing to audiences. The revenue stream that they generated helped pay the bills for such large-scale productions as Suez. The Charlie Chan movies remained popular right into 1941, but the entry of the United States into the Second World War at the end of the ye

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet The Trap Charlie Chan 1946
No Score Yet Dangerous Money Charlie Chan 1946
No Score Yet Dark Alibi Charlie Chan 1946
No Score Yet Charlie Chan in The Shanghai Cobra Charlie Chan 1945
No Score Yet The Scarlet Clue Charlie Chan 1945
No Score Yet It's in the Bag Det. Sully 1945
No Score Yet The Jade Mask Charlie Chan 1945
No Score Yet Charlie Chan: The Scarlet Clue Charlie Chan 1945
No Score Yet Meeting at Midnight (Black Magic) Charlie Chan 1944
No Score Yet The Chinese Cat Charlie Chan 1944
No Score Yet The Secret Service Charlie Chan 1944
No Score Yet Monsoon Krogan 1943
No Score Yet White Savage (White Captive) Wong 1943
No Score Yet A Night to Remember Inspector Hankins 1942
No Score Yet Charlie Chan in Castle in the Desert Charlie Chan 1942
No Score Yet Charlie Chan in Rio Charlie Chan 1941
No Score Yet Dead Men Tell Charlie Chan 1941
No Score Yet Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise Charlie Chan 1940
No Score Yet Murder over New York Charlie Chan 1940
No Score Yet Charlie Chan in Panama Charlie Chan 1940
80% Charlie Chan At The Wax Museum Charlie Chan 1940
No Score Yet Charlie Chan at Treasure Island Charlie Chan 1939
No Score Yet Charlie Chan in Reno Charlie Chan 1939
No Score Yet Charlie Chan in City in Darkness Charlie Chan 1939
No Score Yet Heritage of the Desert Nosey 1939
20% King of Chinatown Dr. Chang Ling 1939
No Score Yet Law of the Pampas Don Fernando 1939
No Score Yet If I Were King Robin Turgis 1938
No Score Yet Mysterious Rider Frosty Kilburn 1938
No Score Yet Gold Is Where You Find It Harrison McCoy 1938
No Score Yet Charlie Chan in Honolulu Charlie Chan 1938
No Score Yet Wide Open Faces Sheriff 1938
No Score Yet Double Wedding Keough 1937
No Score Yet That Certain Woman Neely 1937
67% Quality Street Actor 1937
No Score Yet Our Relations Captain of the S.S. Periwinkle 1936
No Score Yet The Longest Night Capt. Holt 1936
No Score Yet The Gorgeous Hussy Daniel Webster 1936
No Score Yet Three Godfathers Actor 1936
No Score Yet This is the Life Professor Lafcadio F. Breckenridge 1935
No Score Yet Call of the Wild Groggin 1935
No Score Yet The Daring Young Man Warden Palmer 1935
No Score Yet Romance in Manhattan Sergeant 1935
No Score Yet Upper World Officer Moran 1934
No Score Yet Spitfire Mr. Sawyer 1934
No Score Yet Dark Hazard Bright 1934
No Score Yet Massacre Thomas Shanks 1934
No Score Yet Operator 13 Maj. Allen 1934
No Score Yet The World Changes Hodgens 1933
No Score Yet King of the Jungle Neil Forbes 1933
No Score Yet The Phantom President Prof. Aikenhead 1932
59% Blonde Venus Detective Wilson 1932
No Score Yet Blondie of the Follies Pete 1932
No Score Yet Speak Easily Stage Director 1932
No Score Yet Is My Face Red Tony Mugatti 1932
No Score Yet Tom Brown of Culver Maj. Wharton 1932
No Score Yet Strangers in Love McPhail 1932
No Score Yet Absinthe Merivel 1929


Charlie Chan says: Bad alibi like dead fish--- cannot stand the test of time.