Dennis is the third son of Sam and Sade Dennis. He attended Cedarvale Public School, Vaughan Road Collegiate, and the University of Toronto, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1968. He is on the Great Alumni List for the University of Toronto. He is a member of the Playwrights/Directors Unit of The Actors Studio.
He was Artistic Director of the University College Players Guild from 1967–68, and received the McAndrew Award for his contributions to campus drama (which included his own adaptation of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 and the Canadian premiere of Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy).
Dennis made his acting debut at 8 years old in 1954 on Marjorie Purvey's radio series, Peter and the Dwarf and performed on the series for five years. He has written a number of radio plays for BBC, and CBC, including Leslie and Lajos (CBC) (1982), Long Time Ago (BBC) (1974), and To an Early Grave (BBC) (1972). In 2009 his play, The Alchemist of Cecil Street, starring Ron Orbach, Bryan Cranston and Edward Asner was produced by The Famous Radio Ranch. In 2010 The Famous Radio Ranch followed up with a production of Dennis's play "Tolstoy Was Never There" starring Kevin Dunn, Ross Benjamin, Ron Orbach, Rose Abdoo, Ed Begley, Jr., John O'Hurley, Leila Birch, Kim Eveleth, Becky Bonar. Patrick Pinney and Ethne Bliss.
In 1963, Dennis made his stage debut at the Red Barn Theatre in Jackson's Point, Ontario playing Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace and Simon Bliss in Hay Fever. Later that year he adapted, directed and played Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye at the Coach House Theatre in Toronto. While attending the University of Toronto he appeared in Hart House productions of "Heartbreak House", "Ondine", and "The Devils". In 1968, he wrote and appeared in his play, "Everyone Except Mr. Fontana", at the Colonnade Theatre in Toronto. In 1971, he traveled to England, where he directed the Walter Scharf-Don Black- Lionel Chetwynd musical Maybe That's Your Problem at the Roundhouse Theatre in London.
Returning to Canadian stage in 1980, he played Sidney Bruhl in Deathtrap opposite Anna Russell at London's Grand Theatre. His play, Altman's Last Stand, was produced at the National Arts Center in Ottawa in 1982. In 1985, he wrote and directed the play Significant Others at the Beverly Hills Playhouse in Los Angeles.
In 1990, Dennis recreated the role of Alfred in Going On opposite Maria O'Brien at the Callboard Theatre in Los Angeles, and in 1997 wrote and starred in the play SoHo Duo, directed by Kenneth Welsh at the West Bank Theatre in New York.
In 2003, Dennis created the role of Fred Ross in the Ed Begley, Jr. musical Cesar and Ruben at the El Portal Theater in Los Angeles, and in 2005, played George Sanders in the play High Class Heel, at The National Arts Club in New York.
In 2011, he returned to the boards playing Gregory Wagner for the Open Fist Theater Company in their production of "Room Service" by Murray and Boretz, which the Los Angeles Times described as a "superb revival". Later that year he played Carlton Fitzgerald opposite Catherine Hicks and Michael Laskin in Moss Hart's "Light Up the Sky" at the JRTN in Las Vegas.
In 2016, Dennis revised his play "Altman's Last Stand". It was directed by Charles Haid and produced by Racquel Lehrman at the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles with Michael Laskin as Franz Altman. The production received great critical acclaim.
- 2016 Altman's Last Stand (author)
- 2005, High Class Heel (author/actor)
- 1997, SoHo Duo (author/actor)
- 1989, Going On (author/actor)
- 1985, Significant Others (author/director)
- 1982, Altman's Last Stand (author)
- 1974, Crazy Joan (book/lyrics)
- 1968, Everyone Except Mr. Fontana (author/actor)
Author George Anthony wrote that Charles Dennis "was a talented young hotshot who wanted to do it all: write, produce, direct, star", and that he "worked as an entertainment writer for Toronto Telegram". He was a film and theatre critic for them until his first play, Everyone Except Mr. Fontana presented in 1968.
In 2002, Dennis wrote three articles for the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times about Ivor Novello, Phil Gersh, and Julian Fellowes. In February 2010 he wrote an article on Christopher Plummer in The Hollywood Reporter.
His first novel, Stoned Cold Soldier was published in 1973. In 1997 (using the pseudonym Margaret Barrett), Dennis wrote the novels "Given the Crime" and "Given the Evidence". His works have received favorable response from Kirkus Reviews. His new novel, "The Magiker", was published by Asahina&Wallace in October 2013.
- 2013 "The Magiker" ISBN 978-1 -940412-02-3
- 1998, Given the Evidence ISBN 0-671-00153-1
- 1998, Given the Crime ISBN 0-671-00151-5
- 1987, Shar-Li ISBN 0-515-08974-5
- 1983, This War Is Closed Until Spring ISBN 0-7715-9767-3
- 1981, The Dealmakers ISBN 0-440-11852-2
- 1979, Bonfire ISBN 0-440-10659-1
- 1978, The Periwinkle Assault ISBN 0-7701-0027-9
- 1977, A Divine Case of Murder ISBN 0-7701-0050-3
- 1975, Somebody Just Grabbed Annie! ISBN 0-312-74375-0
- 1974, The Next-to-Last Train Ride ISBN 0-312-57225-5
- 1973, Stoned Cold Soldier ISBN 0-86007-019-0
Television, film, and video
In 1969 while living in London Dennis adapted his play, Aztecs and Orange Juice, for ATV and appeared in it opposite Derek Fowlds and Cheryl Kennedy. In 1973, he created Thames Television's first daytime drama, Marked Personal starring Stephanie Beacham. He wrote the Television movies Mirror, Mirror in 1979 and The Jayne Mansfield Story in 1980. He wrote and appeared in the 1984 movie Covergirl opposite Kenneth Welsh, William Hutt and August Schellenberg. In 1984, he wrote and directed the motion picture Reno and the Doc starring Kenneth Welsh and Linda Griffiths, which in 1985 was nominated for four Genie Awards. Also in 1984 he co-authored a screenplay of his novel The Next-to-Last Train Ride for a film which was directed by Richard Lester and released under the title Finders Keepers. Vincent Canby in The New York Times described it as "a genially oddball comedy of a sort not often successfully made these days."
In 2004, Dennis was the voice of Rico in Disney's animated feature Home on the Range. In 2007, Dennis wrote and directed the motion picture Hard Four starring Ross Benjamin, Samuel Gould, Edward Asner, Dabney Coleman, Paula Prentiss, Ed Begley, Jr., Fayard Nicholas and Bryan Cranston. In 2010 he wrote and directed The Favour of Your Company starring Carolyn Seymour, Neil Dickson and Ron Orbach, which was shown at the BAFTA/LA Short Film Showcase.
In 2011 he launched his own online interview show Paid to Dream, which can be read and heard at www.paidtodream.com.
In October, 2011 he won the first-ever Samuel Fuller Guerilla Filmmaker Award at the Buffalo International Film Festival for his short film "Atwill" starring Neil Dickson and Brent Huff. It was also an Official Selection of The Buffalo Film Festival in the same year. The film was shot entirely on an iPad and edited on iMovie.
In 2012, he began production on his first iPad feature, Chicanery featuring Michael Laskin, Patty McCormack, Brent Huff, Kenneth Welsh, Kate Vernon, Fred Melamed, Elya Baskin, Rose Abdoo, Ron Orbach, Ross Benjamin, Patrick Pinney and Mark Rydell. Film was completed in 2015 and won the Innovation Award at the first Durham Region Film Festival in Oshawa, Canada.
A web series based on the prize-winning film Atwill debuted on YouTube in 2014 with Neil Dickson returning as Atwill, and Michael Swan joining the cast as Nelson. Brent Huff returned in several episodes as Atwill's nemesis Kobalt. The first season consisted of ten episodes, and series guest stars included Patty McCormack, Michael Laskin, Rick Podell, Kim Delgado, Lou Wagner, Patrick Pinney, Peter Sands, and Nicole Ansari.
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As writer or director
- Chicanery (2015) (writer/director)
- Butterfield (2008) (writer)
- Hard Four (2007) (writer/director)
- Goose on the Loose (2006) (writer)
- Adderly" (1 episode, 1986) (TV)
- Finders Keepers (1984) (Based on his novel The Next-to-Last Train Ride)
- Screwball Academy (1984) (writer)
- Reno and the Doc (1984) (writer/director)
- Covergirl (1984) (writer)
- Svengali (1983) (TV)
- Double Negative (1980)
- The Jayne Mansfield Story (1980) (writer)
- Mirror, Mirror (1979) writer
- Search and Rescue: The Alpha Team" (1977) (TV)
- The Thirsty Dead (1974)
- Marked Personal" (90 episodes, 1973–1974) (TV)
- American Dad! (1 episode, 2009) (TV)
- Donna on Demand (2008)
- Hard Four (2007)
- Home on the Range (2004)
- Enterprise (1 episode, 2002) (TV)
- 2001: A Space Travesty (2000)
- Due South (1 episode, 1998) (TV)
- Relentless III (1993)
- Majority Rule (1992) (TV)
- Jake and the Fatman (1 episode, 1991) (TV)
- Princesses (1 episode, 1991) (TV)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (1 episode, 1990) (TV)
- Grand Slam (1 episode, 1990) (TV)
- Screwball Academy (1986) (TV)
- The City Girl (1984)
- Covergirl (1984)
- Reno and the Doc (1984)
As video game voice actor
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) as Odahviing and Durnehviir
- Red Faction: Guerrilla (2009) - Admiral Kobel
- Mass Effect (2007)
- Ninja Gaiden Sigma (2007)
- Crash Tag Team Racing (2005)
- Mercenaries (2005)
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2005)
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords (2004)
- EverQuest II (2004)
- The Bard's Tale (2004)
- Law & Order: Justice Is Served (2004)
- Doom³ as Counselor Elliot Swann (2004)
- Ground Control II: Operation Exodus (2004)
- Ninja Gaiden (2004)
- Champions of Norrath: Realms of EverQuest (2004)
- Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (2003)
- Law & Order II: Double or Nothing (2003)
- Gladius (2003)
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
- Brute Force (2003)
- Master of Orion 3 (2003)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2002)
- Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale II (2002)
Awards and nominations
- 2015 Innovation Award at the Durham Region Film Festival in Oshawa, Canada for "Chicanery"
- 2011 Samuel Fuller Guerilla Filmmaker Award, Buffalo International Film Festival (BIFF:Buffalo) "Atwill". Official Selection BIFF:Buffalo 2011.
- 1989 Daily Express Award Best New Play "Going On" (nominated)
- 1985 Nomination, Genie Award for Best Song - A Little Piece of Forever from Reno and the Doc
- 1968 McAndrew Award University of Toronto (winner)
- "Charled Dennis bio". Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Miss Chatelaine Magazine, September 1978
- Bickerton, Roger. "BBC Radio Plays". ukonline.co.uk. UK Online. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Los Angeles Herald Examiner, August 14, 1985
- Los Angeles Times, August 28, 1985
- The Scotsman, August 22, 1989
- Daily Variety, November 8, 1990
- Los Angeles Times, November 16, 1990
- The New York Times, January 14, 1996
- "Charles Dennis". The Playwrights Database. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Daily Express, August 21, 1999
- Army Archerd's column - Daily Variety, August 13, 1986
- The Hollywood Reporter, August 28, 1985
- Anthony, George (2008). Starring Brian Linehan: A Life Behind the Scenes (reprint, illustrated ed.). Random House. ISBN 9780771007583.
- "Articles by Charles Dennis". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- "books by Charles Dennis". Open Library. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- "Marked Personal". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- "Charles Dennis filmography". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- "Reno and the Doc". Complete Index to World Film. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- "Reno and the Doc award details". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Canby, Vincent (May 18, 1984). "FILM: 'FINDERS KEEPERS,' COMEDY DIRECTED BY RICHARD LESTER". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Mitchell, Elvis (April 2, 2004). "FILM REVIEW; A Western With Watercolor Vistas and a Passel of Parody". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- "Director Charles Dennis Talks About Making His Film CHICANERY & Accepts Innovation Award - FILMbutton - Festival & Film Info".
- "Charles Dennis". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- "American Dad credits". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-10.