Slim Summerville

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Slim Summerville
Slim Summerville.jpg
Summerville in Little Accident (1930)
George Joseph Somerville

(1892-07-10)July 10, 1892
DiedJanuary 5, 1946(1946-01-05) (aged 53)
OccupationActor, director
Years active1912–1946
Gertrude Roell
(m. 1927; div. 1936)

Eleanor Brown
(m. 1937⁠–⁠1946)

Slim Summerville (born George Joseph Somerville; July 10, 1892 – January 5, 1946), was an American film actor and director best known for his work in comedies.[1]

Early life[edit]

Summerville was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his mother died when he was only five.[2] Moving from New Mexico to Canada and later to Oklahoma, he had a nomadic upbringing.[2] In Canada, in Chatham, Ontario, he lived with his English grandparents and obtained his first job there, working as a messenger for the Canadian Pacific Telegraphs.[3]

Film career[edit]

Slim Summerville inscribed photo

The beginning of Summerville's three-decade screen career can be traced to another early job he had, one working in a poolroom in California. There in 1912 he met actor Edgar Kennedy,[4] who took him to see Mack Sennett, the head of Keystone Studios in Edendale. Sennett immediately hired him for $3.50 per day to perform in bit parts, his first being in the role of a "Keystone Kop" in the short Hoffmeyer's Legacy.[5] Tall and gangly, Summerville used his physical appearance to great effect in many comedies during both the silent and sound eras. His work in films, however, was not limited to acting; he also directed more than 50 productions, mostly shorts.

Occasionally, Summerville played in dramatic films, such as All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Jesse James (1939), but he was most successful in comedies, including several with ZaSu Pitts. He also performed with child star Shirley Temple in the musical-comedy dramas Captain January (1936) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938).

Personal life[edit]

Summerville married Gertrude Martha Roell on 19 November 1927.[4][6] Five years later they adopted a four-week-old baby boy whom they christened Elliott George.[7] The couple divorced in September 1936,[6][8] and the following year Summerville married Eleanor Brown, a nurse who had cared for him while he was sick.[4][3]

Summerville died of a stroke on January 5, 1946 in Laguna Beach, California.[4][5][9] He is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in South Los Angeles community of Inglewood, California. Two decades after his death, his beach-front house on Sleepy Hollow Lane in Laguna Beach was converted into the Beach House restaurant,[10] which was later renamed the Driftwood Kitchen.[11]


For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Slim Summerville has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6409 Hollywood Blvd.[12]

He was inducted into the New Mexico Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2012.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Stuart, Ray (1965). Immortals of the Screen. Sherbourne Press. p. 218.
  2. ^ a b Harrison, Paul (13 July 1936). "Sad-Looking Slim Summerville Never Hoped To Be Funny - Just Can't Help It". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Lanky Screen Comic Gets Romantic 'Break'". The Montreal Gazette. 17 September 1941. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d "Stroke Fatal to Movie Star - "Slim" Summerville Dies Suddenly". Warsaw Daily Union. 7 January 1946. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Slim Summerville, Of The Movies, Dies". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 7 January 1946. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Sad Slim Summerville Loses Wife at Court". The Spokesman-Review. 2 October 1936. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Slum Summerville of Movies Adopts Baby". Associated Press. 6 February 1932. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Wife Divorces Film Comedian". The Pittsburgh Press. 2 October 1936. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  9. ^ Motion Picture Herald. Quigley Pub. Co. 1946. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke; Bisbort, Alan (1988). Life is a beach: a vacationer's guide to the West Coast. McGraw-Hill. p. 74.
  11. ^ "Driftwood Kitchen - Laguna Beach, CA". Yelp. Retrieved 2016-05-22.
  12. ^ Slim Summerville. Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 2012-02-11
  13. ^ The Columbia Shorts Department: Slim Summerville (1943-1944)

External links[edit]