Charles "Chic" Sale
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Motion Picture News (1919)
|Born||Charles Partlow Sale
August 25, 1885
Huron, South Dakota, U.S.
|Died||November 7, 1936
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Lobar pneumonia|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)|
|Spouse(s)||Marie Bishop (1912-1936) (his death)|
|Children||Virginia "Cherry" (b. 1914)
Charles Jr & Mary (b. 1916)
Dwight (b. 1925)
Charles Partlow "Chic" Sale (August 25, 1885 – November 7, 1936) was an American actor and vaudevillian. He was a son of Frank and Lillie Belle (née Partlow) Sale, and the brother of actress/writer Virginia Sale-Wren.
Sale was born in South Dakota and raised in Urbana, Illinois. In 1920, after a tour wherein he played "rural parts," he was engaged by Christie Studios on Gower Street in Los Angeles. According to Grace Kingsley in the Jan. 28 edition of the Los Angeles Times, page II11, "It now comes to light that Chic Sale, appearing at the Orpheum this week, will as soon as his present tour is finished, about the middle of next month, return to town in the Capacity of a Christie star. Mr. Sale's first photoplay will be a five-reeler, adapted from Irvin S. Cobb's 'The Smart Aleck,' after which he will be starred in other well-known stories suitable to his talents." The item goes on to mention that Charles Christie, business head of the Christie studio, entered into a contract with Exceptional Pictures to produce the Sale film, to be distributed through Robertson-Cole, and notes Sale's occasional appearances in the Ziegfeld Follies and the Shubert Winter Garden shows. The movie was eventually named His Nibs, and co-starred Colleen Moore. Chic played many of the parts himself, the film being a spoof of the sort of the "hick", backwater characterizations that were his specialty.
In 1929, inspired by a carpenter named 'Lem Putt' from his hometown of Urbana, Sale wrote The Specialist, a play about an outhouse builder. Because copyright infringement was widespread in Vaudeville, Sale enlisted the aid of two newspapermen to adapt The Specialist into a book. This enjoyed great success, and Sale spent the next several months responding to fan mail.
Sale had a career in Hollywood, appearing in various comic roles until his death from pneumonia in 1936. In contrast to his comic roles, one of his loftier appearances came as President Abraham Lincoln in 1935. The Perfect Tribute was a short film dramatizing Lincoln's disappointment at the meagre reaction to his Gettysburg Address. He encounters a dying and blind soldier who, not knowing he is addressing the President himself, tells Lincoln how inspiring the speech was.
Although an obscure figure today, Sale was a well-known popular culture figure during the 1930s, and was often the subject of jokes by comedians like Groucho Marx, usually in reference to The Specialist. Chic is also mentioned as an aside late in the Marx Brothers film, Animal Crackers, in a conversation between Ravelli (Chico Marx) and Groucho's character, Captain Spaulding). For many years—even after his death—"Chic Sale" was used as a euphemism for an outhouse. He is known to have found this unflattering, calling it "a terrible thing to have happen".
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