Walter E. Perkins
Walter E. Perkins
Biddeford, Maine, USA
|Died||3 June 1925|
Brooklyn, New York, USA
|Resting place||Laurel Hill, Maine, USA|
Walter Eugene Perkins (1859-1925) was an American stage and film actor, known for his performances in films such as My Friend from India (1914), Who Goes There? (1914) and Paying His Debt (1918).
Walter Perkins was born in Biddeford, Maine, USA as one of the four children born to Jotham and Ruth (Andrews) Perkins. His early life and schooling was Biddeford where his father ran a boot and shoe shop. During his school life when he was 14, Walter started an amateur newspaper, "The Snow Flake". He was a collector of newspapers and had a collection of over 130 papers from 25 states and Canada in this manner and had an interest in telegraphy which he started studying during his school years. Walter was also known to be active in productions put on by Universalist Society, of which he was a member. Walter graduated from Biddeford High School in 1876.
From a telegraph operator to a stage actor to a film actor, Walter Perkins' life covered numerous stage shows and sixteen films. He died in Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 1925, following a short illness caused by food poisoning.
Perkins was memorialized both in Maine and back in New York. His New York funeral took place at the famous Frank E. Campbell funeral chapel on Madison Avenue, which hosted the funerals of such celebrities as Rudolph Valentino, Greta Garbo, Frank Costello, "Fatty" Arbuckle, Arturo Toscanini and George Gershwin. The next day Perkins' remains arrived home in Biddeford for the local funeral at the family home on Chadwick Place, and he was then laid to rest at the family plot at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Saco. In this tribute, written to accompany his obituary in the Biddeford Daily Journal by Mrs. Estelle Tatterson, Perkins was remembered as:
Walter had no enemies. His acquaintances were at once his friends. That was one of his greatest gifts—friendship. He never married. There were too many flowers in Cupid's garden for him to choose. He loved them all. His friends are thankful that he had not to pass through long months of suffering, but left us as he would have desired. All honor to a beloved son of old Biddeford and let us all stop in our busy lives to pay a silent tribute and offer a silent prayer of thanksgiving for having known Walter E. Perkins, gentleman."
Perkins started his career as a telegraph operator at the Eastern Division station of the Boston & Maine railroad, in Biddeford. A year later, he left for Boston to pursue his dream of becoming a stage actor. Till 1920s, he acted small parts in various comedies when he was hired by Charles Frohman, a Broadway producer. The first notable role came his way, at the age of 37, when Henry A. Souchet, who was a friend, wrote a part specially for Perkins in his farcical play "My Friend from India" with original cast, including Walter E. Perkins. The play, which opened on 6 October 1896 at the Bijou Theatre, in Broadway, was a success and elevated the status of both the actor and the author, with Perkins in the starring role as "A. Keene Shaver".
Du Souchet and Perkins had a successful professional relationship, and went on to produce other successful shows including The Man from Mexico, Toppy", and Who Goes There? together. Who Goes There? is considered to be one of biggest hits of Perkins. He also had successes in non-Du Souchet productions, including All the Comforts of Home, Charley's Aunt" (in which he acted in drag), The Lost Paradise, Held by the Enemy, and Pa Potter. Perkins is reported to have played in every city and town of consequence in every state of the Union, though much of his time was spend in the long runs of his several successes in the bigger cities of the country.
Through his performances across the country, Perkins reported to have become famous as a comedic actor. He was playing at the Majestic Theatre in San Francisco after 1906 earthquake when the great earthquake and fire of 1906 struck. He was uninjured and offered accounts of the experience to the Biddeford papers. Walter Perkins appeared in sixteen screen films from 1914 to 1922, some of which were adaptations of his stage work. Perkins continued to act in productions across the U.S. and Canada until his death.
- "Walter E. Perkins, Famous Local Actor, Dies in Brooklyn". Biddeford (Maine) Daily Journal. June 5, 1925.
- Biddeford and Saco City Directory for 1877. Boston, Massachusetts: Greenough and Company. 1877. pp. 68, 92.
- "Walter E. Perkins (1858-1925)". Amateur newspapers - From the Walter Perkins Collection. McArthur Public Library (Biddeford, Maine). Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- "W.E. Perkins laid at rest in Laurel Hill: Many friends pay homage to noted actor at late home". Biddeford (Maine) Daily Journal. 8 June 1925.
- "Walter E. Perkins, Famous Local Actor, Dies in Brooklyn". Biddeford (Maine) Daily Journal. 5 June 1925. p. 5.
- "Walter E. Perkins - Performer". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Walter E. Perkins, Famous Local Actor, Dies in Brooklyn". Biddeford (Maine) Daily Journal. June 5, 1925. p. 8.
- "WENT OFF TO SLEEP-Walter Perkins Remained in Bed After the Great Earthquake-NOW IN OFFICE OF GOVERNOR-Brother of Mrs. E.L. Cowan of This City is Reported Safe". Biddeford (Maine) Weekly Journal. May 4, 1906. p. 7.
- "ACTOR IS BACK HOME-Walter E. Perkins Reached Biddeford Last Friday Afternoon-HE CAME HERE FROM NEW YORK-Graphic Account of Experiences in City of San Francisco". Biddeford (Maine) Weekly Journal. May 25, 1906. p. 2.
- "Walter Perkins". Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Amazon.com. Retrieved 8 April 2014.