Charles Wagenheim

Biography

Date of Birth 21 February 1896, Newark, New Jersey, USA Date of Death 6 March 1979, Hollywood, California, USA (homicide) Mini Biography Initially drawn to an acting career to counterbalance an acute case of shyness, diminutive character actor Charles Wagenheim's career comprised hundreds upon hundreds of minor but atmospheric parts on stage, film and TV. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1896, he was the son of immigrant parents. Enlisting in the military during World War I, he was compensated for an education by the government and chose to study dramatics at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, graduating in 1923. After touring with a Shakespearean company, he appeared in a host of Broadway plays, several of them written, directed and/or produced by the prolific George Abbott, including "A Holy Terror" (1925), "Four Walls" (1927) and "Ringside" (1928). Following a stage part in "Schoolhouse on the Lot" (1938), the mustachioed Wagenheim turned to Hollywood for work. His dark, graveside manner, baggy-eyed scowl and lowlife countenance proved ideal for a number of genres, particularly crime thrillers and westerns. In films from 1929, the character player scored well when Alfred Hitchcock chose him to play the assassin in Foreign Correspondent (1940). He went on to enact a number of seedy, unappetizing roles (tramps, drunks, thieves) over the years but never found the one juicy part that could have put him at the top of the character ranks. Usually billed tenth or lower, Wagenheim was more filler than anything else which his blue-collar gallery of cabbies, waiters, deputies, clerks, morgue attendants, junkmen, etc., will attest. Some of his better delineated roles came with Two Girls on Broadway (1940); Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940); Half Way to Shanghai (1942); the cliffhangers Don Winslow of the Navy (1942) and Raiders of Ghost City (1944); The House on 92nd Street (1945); A Lady Without Passport (1950); Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953); and Canyon Crossroads (1956). One of his more promising roles came as "The Runt" in Meet Boston Blackie (1941), which started Chester Morris off in the popular 1940s "B" series as the thief-cum-crimefighter, but the sidekick role was subsequently taken over by George E. Stone. Of his latter films it might be noted that Wagenheim was cast in the very small but pivotal role of the thief who breaks into the storefront in which the Frank family is hiding above in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959). TV took up much of his time in later years and he kept fairly busy throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Wagenheim played the recurring role of Halligan on "Gunsmoke" (1955) (from 1967-1975) and performed until the very end on such shows as "All in the Family" (1968) and "Baretta" (1975). On March 6, 1979, the 83-year-old Wagenheim was bludgeoned to death in his Hollywood apartment following a grocery shopping trip when he surprised a thief in his home. By sheer horrific coincidence, elderly character actor Victor Kilian, of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (1976) fame, was found beaten to death by burglars in his Los Angeles-area apartment just a few days later (March 11th). Trivia Was married to a woman who was a psychologist. In later years they bought a small apartment building in the Hollywood area and lived in one of them while earning rent from the other units. According to the story given by a distant relative, shortly before Charlie's death his wife had suffered a stroke and was confined to their apartment. A woman had been hired to help her. Apparently one day Charlie came back from food shopping, entered his apartment, and surprised the woman who was in the process of going through drawers and stealing articles. Charlie began yelling at her, asking her what she was doing. Apparently the woman panicked and hit Charlie with an object that killed him. Charlie worked in the Yiddish theater on Lower East Side NYC with Paul Muni. At one point, when their marriages temporarily faltered, the two actor friends lived together for a few months.

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Known For
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Lighthouse

Quimby - Insurance Adjustor

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Hail, Hero!

Painter #1

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The Get-Away

Hutch

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Die Schönheit und das Ungeheuer

Mario

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Fingers at the Window

Fred Bixley

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Double Deal

Bus Driver (uncredited)

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The Word

Hymie - The Timekeeper (uncredited)

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He Stayed for Breakfast

Timid Waiter (uncredited)

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Blondie for Victory

Sugar Hoarder (uncredited)

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Storm Over Lisbon

Frustrated Man (uncredited)

Starring In
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The Word

Hymie - The Timekeeper (uncredited)

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The Missouri Breaks

Freighter

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The Hindenburg

Man at Lakehurst (uncredited)

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The Apple Dumpling Gang

Old Prospector (uncredited)

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The Best of Baretta

Eddie / ... (5 episodes, 1975-1977)

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A Time For Dying

Milton

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Hello, Dolly!

Pushcart Man (uncredited)

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Hail, Hero!

Painter #1

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The Doris Day Show - Season 2

Edgar / ... (4 episodes, 1970-1972)

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A Guide for the Married Man

Man in Steam Room (uncredited)

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Follow Me, Boys!

Charlie, Court Bailiff (uncredited)

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The Cincinnati Kid

Old Man (uncredited)

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Cat Ballou

James (uncredited)

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A Tiger Walks

Man Yelling News (uncredited)

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Lonely are the Brave

Vagrant Convict (uncredited)

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Die Schönheit und das Ungeheuer

Mario

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Inherit the Wind

Hotel Clerk (uncredited)

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The Story of Ruth

Ruth's Father (uncredited)

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Un Pie en el Infierno

Banker (uncredited)

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The Diary of Anne Frank

Sneak Thief (uncredited)

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Lawless Years Vol. 1

Freddie the Dripple / ... (2 episodes, 1959)

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The Tunnel of Love

Day Motel Man

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Lonelyhearts

Joe

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This Could Be the Night

Mike - Bartender (uncredited)

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El Asesino Anda Suelto

Clothing Store Owner (uncredited)

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The Sea Chase

American Reporter (uncredited)

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Kismet

Beggar (uncredited)

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The Prodigal

Zubeir

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Bengal Brigade

Headman (uncredited)

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Suddenly

Iz Kaplan (uncredited)

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The Boy from Oklahoma

Hymie - The Timekeeper (uncredited)

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Executive Suite

Luigi Cassoni (uncredited)

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Átila: O Rei dos Hunos

Palace Messenger (uncredited)

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Princess of the Nile

Babu's Friend (uncredited)

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Salome

Simon (uncredited)

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The Girl Next Door

Junkman (uncredited)

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Vicki

Seedy Movie House Patron (uncredited)

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Beneath the 12 Mile Reef

Paul (uncredited)

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Topper

Frank (1 episode, 1954)

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The Story of Will Rogers

Sam (uncredited)

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The Captive City

Phone Man (uncredited)

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The Sniper

Mr. Alpine (uncredited)

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Lure of the Wilderness

Townsman (uncredited)

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The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima

Villager (uncredited)

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The Tall Target

Telegraph Clerk (uncredited)

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The House on Telegraph Hill

Man At Accident

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The Big Night

Barfly (uncredited)

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The Company She Keeps

Pete (uncredited)

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Jim Thorpe: All American

Briggs (uncredited)

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Mask of the Avenger

Townsman (uncredited)

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A Streetcar Named Desire

Passerby (uncredited)

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A Lady Without a Passport

Ramon Santez

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Dial 1119

Man on Street (uncredited)

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Three Secrets

(uncredited)

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The Yellow Cab Man

Drunk (uncredited)

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Mystery Street

Baggage Clerk (uncredited)

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Three Little Words

Johnny the waiter (uncredited)

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Key to the City

Drunk (uncredited)

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The Reformer and the Redhead

Zoo Attendant (uncredited)

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Double Deal

Bus Driver (uncredited)

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The Great Sinner

Gambler with Ring (uncredited)

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The Set-Up

Hamburger Man (uncredited)

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Scene of the Crime

Nervous Witness (uncredited)

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A Vida Íntima de uma Mulher

Algerian Piano Player (uncredited)

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Bodyguard

Dr. Briller (uncredited)

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Man from Texas

Arthur (bank cashier) (uncredited)

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The Miracle Of The Bells

Mr. Kummer (uncredited)

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River Lady

Man (uncredited)

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Der Menschenfresser vom Kumaon

Panwah's Father

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Cry of the City

Counterman (uncredited)

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Time Out of Mind

Jim (uncredited)

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Monsieur Verdoux

Bank Manager's Friend (uncredited)

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Piratas de Monterrey

Juan

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Lighthouse

Quimby - Insurance Adjustor

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The Brute Man

Pawnbroker (uncredited)

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House of Horrors

Walter - Printer (uncredited)

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The Spiral Staircase

Desk Clerk (uncredited)

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Whistle Stop

Deputy (uncredited)

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Tangier

Hadji (uncredited)

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Colonel Effingham's Raid

Man at Town Meeting (uncredited)

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From This Day Forward

Hoffman (uncredited)

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Night Editor

Phillips (uncredited)

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The Hoodlum Saint

Mr. Cohn (uncredited)

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The Dark Corner

The Real Fred Foss (uncredited)

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Counter-Attack

Tashkin (uncredited)

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Salomè

Telegrapher (uncredited)

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The House on 92nd Street

Gustav Hausmann

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Charlie Chan in The Scarlet Clue

Rausch (uncredited)

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Strange Illusion

Tom--Armstrong's Assistant (uncredited)

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The Jungle Captive

Fred

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A Song to Remember

Waiter (uncredited)

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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Barber (uncredited)

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House of Frankenstein

Jailer (uncredited)

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Storm Over Lisbon

Frustrated Man (uncredited)

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The Whistler

Man at Flophouse (uncredited)

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Summer Storm

(uncredited)

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An American Romance

Shoe Salesman (uncredited)

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The Song of Bernadette

Water Thief Sent to Jail (uncredited)

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Calling Dr. Death

Coroner

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Blondie for Victory

Sugar Hoarder (uncredited)

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Fingers at the Window

Fred Bixley

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Mystery of Marie Roget

Subordinate to Prefect (uncredited)

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The Get-Away

Hutch

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Chicos de Broadway

Reed's Composer (uncredited)

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Sky Murder

Ricoro - Flight Attendant (uncredited)

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He Stayed for Breakfast

Timid Waiter (uncredited)

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Foreign Correspondent

Assassin

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Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum

Willie Fern

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I Love You Again

Malavinksy (fingerprint man) (uncredited)

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Jezebel

Customer (uncredited)

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