Roland Winters in A Dangerous Profession (1949) trailer
November 22, 1904
|Died||October 22, 1989 (aged 84)|
Roland Winters (born Roland Winternitz; November 22, 1904 – October 22, 1989) was an American actor who played many character parts in films and television but today is best remembered for portraying Charlie Chan in six films in the late 1940s.
Winters was born Roland Winternitz on November 22, 1904 in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Antoinette (Iversen) and Felix Winternitz, a violinist and composer who was teaching at New England Conservatory of Music. His father was born in Austria and his mother in Germany.
Charlie Chan films
Winters was 44 when he made the first of his six Chan films, The Chinese Ring in 1947 and ending with Charlie Chan and the Sky Dragon (also known as Sky Dragon) in 1949. His other Chan films were "Docks of New Orleans" (1948), "Shanghai Chest" (1948), "The Golden Eye" (1948) and "The Feathered Serpent" (1948). He also had character roles in three other feature films while he worked on the Chan series.
Winters is less well known in the Charlie Chan role than his two predecessors. He made far fewer Chan films than they did, and he came along at a time when the series was well past its higher-budget days. Viewers are divided about his performance in the role. Some consider him an ineffective successor to Oland and Toler, but others defend him for his unique approach to the character.
Yunte Huang, in Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History, noted differences in the actors' appearances, especially that Winters' "tall nose simply could not be made to look Chinese." Huang also cited the actor's age, writing, "at the age of forty-four, he also looked too young to resemble a seasoned Chinese sage."
In contrast to Huang, Ken Hanke wrote in his book, Charlie Chan at the Movies: History, Filmography, and Criticism, "Roland Winters has never received his due ... Winters brought with him a badly needed breath of fresh air to the series." He cited "the richness of the approach and the verve with which the series was being tackled" during the Winters era." Similarly, Howard M. Berlin, in his book, Charlie Chan's Words of Wisdom, commented that "Winters brought a much needed breath of fresh air to the flagging film series with his self-mocking, semi-satirical interpretation of Charlie, which is very close to the Charlie Chan in Biggers' novels."
Later films and television
After the series finished, Winters continued to work in film and television until 1982. He was in the movies So Big and Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, played Elvis' father in Blue Hawaii and a judge in the Elvis film Follow That Dream. He made appearances as the boss on the early TV series Meet Millie as the boss and the courtroom drama Perry Mason. In one episode of the Bewitched TV series, he played the normally unseen McMann of McMann and Tate. He also portrayed Mr. Gimbel in Miracle on 34th Street in 1973.
- Citizen Kane (1941) – Newspaperman at Trenton Town Hall (uncredited)
- 13 Rue Madeleine (1946) – Van Duyval (uncredited)
- The Chinese Ring (1947) – Charlie Chan
- Docks of New Orleans (1948) – Charlie Chan
- Shanghai Chest (1948) – Charlie Chan
- The Golden Eye (1948) – Charlie Chan
- Cry of the City (1948) – Ledbetter
- The Return of October (1948) – Colonel Wood
- Kidnapped (1948) – Capt. Hoseason
- The Feathered Serpent (1948) – Charlie Chan
- Tuna Clipper (1949) – E.J. Ransom
- Sky Dragon (1949) – Charlie Chan
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949) – T. Hanley Brooks
- Once More, My Darling (1949) – Colonel Head
- A Dangerous Profession (1949) – Jerry McKay
- Malaya (1949) – Bruno Gruber
- Guilty of Treason (1950) – Soviet Comissar Belov
- Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950) – Manfredo Acuto
- Killer Shark (1950) – Jeffrey White
- Underworld Story (1950) – Stanley Becker
- Convicted (1950) – Vernon Bradley, Attorney
- Between Midnight and Dawn (1950) – Leo Cusick
- To Please a Lady (1950) – Dwight Barrington
- The West Point Story (1950) – Harry Eberhart
- Sierra Passage (1950) – Sam Cooper
- Inside Straight (1951) – Alexander Tomson
- Raton Pass (1951) – Sheriff Périgord
- Follow the Sun (1951) – Dr. Graham
- She's Working Her Way Through College (1952) – Fred Copeland
- A Lion Is in the Streets (1953) – Prosecutor (uncredited)
- So Big (1953) – Klaas Pool
- Bigger Than Life (1956) – Dr. Ruric
- Top Secret Affair (1957) – Sen. Burdick
- Jet Pilot (1957) – Col. Sokolov
- Never Steal Anything Small (1959) – Doctor
- Everything's Ducky (1961) – Capt. Lewis Bollinger
- Blue Hawaii (1961) – Fred Gates
- Follow That Dream (1962) – Judge
- Loving (1970) – Plommie
- Miracle on 34th Street (1973, TV Movie) – Mr. Gimbel
- The Dain Curse (1978, TV Mini-Series) – Hubert Collinson
- DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2. P. 287.
- Huang, Yunte (2011). Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 264. ISBN 9780393340396. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
- Hanke, Ken (1990). Charlie Chan at the Movies: History, Filmography, and Criticism. McFarland. pp. 220–221. ISBN 9780786486618. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
- Berlin, Howard M. (2001). Charlie Chan's Words of Wisdom. Wildside Press LLC. p. 85. ISBN 9781587154690. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
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