Volume III: Biographies


VAN HOUTEN, Charles J. *

Executive, actor, studio employee (1912-1915)

Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Charles J. Van Houten was a stage carpenter, in addition to other duties, at the Thanhouser studio circa 1912-1915.

Biographical Notes: Charles J. Van Houten was a stage carpenter for Thanhouser. However, he also was vice-president of the Thanhouser Company in 1912 and from time to time acted in pictures. He appeared in the 1912 Thanhouser release of The Poacher and the 1914 release of Percy's First Holiday, among other films. The May 15, 1912 issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror listed him as head stage carpenter with the production company of Jess. He prepared elaborate scaffolding for the camera position in a lighthouse scene in The Keeper of the Light. In 1910 Charles J. Van Houten lived at 46 Treno Street in New Rochelle, the same address listed at the time for Thanhouser cameraman J. Blair Smith. By 1912, Van Houten had moved to the Stratford Apartments at 45 North Avenue. New Rochelle directories indicate that in 1913 he and and his wife, Emma Van Houten, lived at 150 Main. In 1914 Charles, who was widowed early in the year, lived at the same address.

The New Rochelle Pioneer, December 12, 1914, carried this notice: "The 'call of the road' became strong with Charlie Van Houten, and he is going to take a Klaw & Erlanger show to Baltimore. It is understood that in April Charlie plans to link up with Edwin Thanhouser who is re-entering the film field with a plant, probably at Fort Lee, New Jersey." This coincided with an announcement in Variety, December 19, 1914: "Charles Van Houten, carpenter-in-chief at the Thanhouser, has left that company." However, he returned to Thanhouser for a brief time in the summer of 1915, after which he went to the Universal studio in Coytesville, New Jersey.

Note: His surname was misspelled as "Van Hout" in some notices.

Thanhouser Filmography:

1912: The Poacher (3-15-1912)

1914: Percy's First Holiday (2-8-1914), The Keeper of the Light (Princess 8-28-1914)

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Copyright © 1995 Q. David Bowers. All Rights Reserved.