Max Davidson

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Max Davidson
Max Davidson MGM photo 1927.jpg
MGM Studio publicity photograph, 1927
Born (1875-05-23)May 23, 1875
Berlin, Germany
Died September 4, 1950(1950-09-04) (aged 75)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
Occupation Actor
Years active 1912–1945
Spouse(s) Alice Marti (1927 - ?)

Max Davidson (May 23, 1875 – September 4, 1950) was a German film actor known for his comedic Jewish persona during the silent film era.[1] With a career spanning over thirty years, Davidson appeared in over 180 films.


Born in Berlin, Germany, Davidson emigrated to the United States in the 1890s where he began working in stock theater and vaudeville. He entered silent movies in 1912. By the mid-teens, Davidson had appeared in his first feature film, Edward Dillon's Don Quixote (1915), followed by D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, and Tod Browning's Puppets (both 1916). In the 1920s, he began working for Hal Roach, appearing in numerous two-reeler comedies including Call of the Cuckoo with Charley Chase, Get 'Em Young with Stan Laurel, and Why Girls Say No and Love 'Em and Feed 'Em with Oliver Hardy, as well as the early talkie Our Gang short Moan and Groan, Inc. (1929), as the crazy old man who haunts a house.

In 1927, he was given his own series of starring two-reelers, among them Jewish Prudence, Don't Tell Everything, Should Second Husbands Come First?, Flaming Fathers and Pass the Gravy. The series ended with the coming of sound in 1929.

He starred alongside a young Jackie Coogan in a pair of silent features, The Rag Man (1923) and Old Clothes (1925).[2] In 1923 he appeared in the Mack Sennett feature The Extra Girl with Mabel Normand, and in 1927 made a rare starring feature at Columbia, Pleasure Before Business, as well as playing a somewhat more serious role as a servant in the Pola Negri WW1 vehicle Hotel Imperial. He also received the colorization treatment as an irate shopkeeper in the Three Stooges film No Census, No Feeling (1940).

His 1928 short Pass the Gravy was deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Later career and death[edit]

Davidson made the transition to sound film, but ended his career by playing mostly uncredited roles. He made his final screen appearance in the 1945 Clark Gable film Adventure. Davidson died on September 4, 1950 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California.

Historian Richard W. Bann, in an article on, asserts that Davidson's career was scuttled by MGM chiefs Louis B. Mayer and Nicholas Schenck, who objected to his portrayal of a stereotypical (and more importantly, unassimilated) Jew and forced Roach to terminate him shortly after sound arrived.


Year Title Role Notes
1913 Scenting a Terrible Crime The Superintendent
1914 An Interrupted Séance Landlord
1915 Caught by the Handle Mr. Riche
1916 Sunshine Dad Mystic Seer
1916 Intolerance Neighbor
1916 The Heiress at Coffee Dan's Shorty Olson[3]
1917 A Daughter of the Poor Joe Eastman Alternative titles: The Heart of the Poor
The Spitfire
1917 The Scrub Lady  ? Max and Marie Dressler in the film
1918 The Hun Within Max
1919 The Hoodlum Abram Isaacs
1919 The Mother and the Law The Kindly Neighbor
1921 No Woman Knows Ferdinand Brandeis
1922 Second Hand Rose Abe Rosenstein
1922 Turn to the Right Pawnbroker
1923 The Ghost Patrol Rapushkin
1923 The Darling of New York Solomon Levinsky
1924 Hold Your Breath Street Merchant
1925 The Rag Man Max Ginsburg
1925 Old Clothes Max Ginsburg
1925 Justice of the Far North Izzy Hawkins
1925 Hogan's Alley Clothier
1926 Raggedy Rose Moe Ginsberg
1927 Hotel Imperial Elias Butterman
1927 Why Girls Say No Papa Whisselberg
1927 Pleasure Before Business Sam Weinberg
1927 Jewish Prudence Papa Gimplewart
1927 Don't Tell Everything
1927 Should Second Husbands Come First?
1927 Flaming Fathers
1927 Call of the Cuckoo
1927 Love 'Em and Feed 'Em
1928 The Boy Friend" Papa Davidson
1928 Feed 'em and Weep Max, restaurant manager
1928 Pass the Gravy
1928 Dumb Daddies
1928 Came the Dawn
1929 So This Is College Moe Levine, the tailor
1929 Moan and Groan, Inc. The lunatic
1929 Hurdy Gurdy
1930 The Shrimp Professor Schoenheimer
1931 The Itching Hour
1931 Oh! Oh! Cleopatra Royal musician
1932 Docks of San Francisco Max, Detective
1933 The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble Larsen Uncredited
1934 Straight Is the Way Old clothes man Uncredited
1935 Metropolitan Tailor Uncredited
1936 Roamin' Wild Abe Wineman
1937 The Girl Said No Max Alternative title: With Words and Music
1939 The Great Commandment Old man
1940 The Great Dictator Jewish man Uncredited
1940 Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman Flower man Uncredited
1940 No Census, No Feeling Storekeeper Uncredited
1942 Reap the Wild Wind Juror Uncredited
1945 Adventure Man in library Uncredited


  1. ^ Erens, Patricia (1988). The Jew in American Cinema. Indiana University Press. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-253-20493-3. 
  2. ^ McCaffrey, Donald W.; Jacobs, Christopher P. (1999). Guide to the Silent Years of American Cinema. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 102. ISBN 0-313-30345-2. 
  3. ^ "The Heiress at Coffee Dan's". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 

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