- This familiar term refers to those actors especially adept at creating varied characterizations from play to play, moving easily through all genres of dramatic performance. Character actors usually played supporting or bit roles, although some became stars as a result of their uncanny skill at developing diverse characterizations, moving easily from playing young or old as well as every type of persona. Some worked steadily playing one character type (Mrs. Thomas Whiffen, for example, played old women from virtually the beginning of her long career to its end). Conversely, many stars developed into character actors as they aged or moved from stage to motion picture roles. During the modernist era, some of the most successful character actors were James Lewis, Mrs. G. H. Gilbert, Fay Bainter, Dudley Digges, Thomas Mitchell, and Josephine Hull.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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