June 20, 1908
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 16, 1957
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Betty Rowland (?-?) (divorced)|
Schilling's rubber face and flustered gestures made him a natural comedian, and he began his career understudying comedy stars Bert Lahr and Joe Penner on Broadway. He soon became a favorite among burlesque comedians, who welcomed him into the burlesque profession. Schilling married burlesque star Betty Rowland and the couple toured in the Minsky burlesque troupe.
Orson Welles saw Schilling in New York and followed him to Florida. There Welles hired Schilling to appear in a stage production featuring several Shakespearean scenes. "I learned my part by taking the script to Welles and having him translate the lines to everyday English," Schilling recalled in 1939. Welles promised Schilling a part in Welles's first motion picture, and kept his promise: Schilling is featured in Citizen Kane (1941). This established Schilling in Hollywood movies as a "nervous" comedian (he plays a jittery symphony conductor in Olsen and Johnson's Hellzapoppin', for example). He also co-starred with character comedian Richard Lane in a series of 11 comedy shorts for Columbia Pictures; the series ran from 1945 to 1950.
In July 1945 Schilling was arrested in Hollywood on charges of possession of narcotics. At his trial he testified that he admitted ownership of the marijuana to save his wife from arrest. The all-woman jury acquitted Schilling on November 29.
Schilling's marriage to Betty Rowland ended in divorce. His professional career remained successful, and he worked in movies and television throughout the 1950s. His last film was Welles's Touch of Evil (1958).
Schilling died of a heart attack on June 16, 1957, four days short of his 49th birthday.
- Angel on the Amazon (1948) (With Orson Welles)
- Citizen Kane (1941)
- You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
- The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
- It's a Pleasure (1945
- The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
- Macbeth (1948)
- Touch of Evil (unbilled) (1958) (With Nicholas Ray)
- On Dangerous Ground (1952)
- Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
- Run for Cover (1955)
- Bigger Than Life (1956)
- Delmont, Jim (November 2, 1998). "Orson Welles Should Be Smiling Now". Omaha World-Herald. p. 33.
Welles was obviously having a good time directing, pulling into minor roles some old buddies, including...Gus Schilling (a veteran of Welles' "Citizen Kane," "Ambersons" and "The Lady From Shanghai")
- "Heiress Has Baby Daughter". Los Angeles Times. November 29, 1945. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
Gus Schilling, actor-husband of Betty Rowland, burlesque's "Ball of Fire," was found innocent of charges of possessing narcotics yesterday by an all...
- "Gus Schilling, Comedian, Dies in Home". Los Angeles Times. June 17, 1957. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
Comedian August Gus Schilling 49 was found dead apparently of a heart attack yesterday morning in his apartment
- French, Philip (October 6, 1996). "The week in reviews". The Observer. p. 11.
For this his final Hollywood picture, Welles cast four actors from Citizen Kane, two of them (Joseph Cotten and Gus Schilling) unbilled