It must have been impossible to be a scene stealer in Frank Capra's You Can't Take it With You, but Charles Lane comes pretty close. He holds his own against the anarchic stylings of the Sycamore family as a straight IRS agent on a house call, and his inability to be patient with Lionel Barrymore's sweet Grandpa Vanderhof is priceless. Lane himself proved to be a much more patient man, especially where death was concerned. He lived a whopping 102 years before passing away on Monday night. He had lived so long, in fact, that he was reportedly one of the last to have survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (he was a year old at the time).

In addition to his short appearance in Capra's 1936 Best Picture-winner, Lane shows up in nine other films by Capra, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Arsenic and Old Lace, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and the one you're most likely to have seen him in, It's a Wonderful Life, where he plays a rent collector for mean old Mr. Potter (Barrymore again). According to a letter written to Lane from Capra, the actor was the filmmaker's "No. 1 crutch." Other classic films Lane appears in include Twentieth Century (with Barrymore again), The Music Man, Call Northside 777, Mighty Joe Young and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. His last big screen role was in that guilty pleasure starring Phoebe Cates and Emmanuel Béart, Date With an Angel. For more than sixty years, Lane was mostly a bit part character actor, usually typecast as some sort of judge, lawyer, salesman, clerk or agent, but he always commanded an audience's attention with his distinct features and speech.

categories Cinematical