Charles Lane is not a well known actor by name, but he has appeared in hundreds of films throughout his career. This is why his death at the age of 102 is a significant event. Lane’s son Tom was talking to his father at 9:00 on Monday night when he suddenly closed his eyes and stopped breathing. There, his life ended along with a 60 year career in the film and theater industry.

Charles Lane’s most famous work can be seen in the films “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” and on the “I Love Lucy” show. He was often cast as authority figures such as a judge, a priest, and a newspaper editor. He started out in the insurance business with an interest in theater company productions that he pursued at night. He was encouraged by actor Irving Pichell to study at Pasadena. He was then spotted by a Warner Bros. scout and was cast in his first film, “Smart Money” in 1931. He stayed at Warner Bros., making $35 a day, sometimes working on three or four films a day with a few lines in each. He was one of the first to join the Screen Actors Guild.

In 1934, he met Frank Capra and was cast in a horse racing film titled “Broadway Bill” and went on to work with him in nine more films including “It’s a Wonderful Life” where he played a rent collector employed by the evil boss in the film who convinces him that the film’s hero is a good businessman. He later made friends with Lucille Ball and had recurring roles on “I Love Lucy,” with a part in the show where Lucy’s son is born but more often as an impatient bureaucrat who butts heads with Lucy. He performed in over 100 theater shows as well. f

Lane was still acting in his 90’s. On his 100th birthday, he received and accepted an award from the TV Land channel in his honor. There he said he was still available to work. His son has announced that there will be no funeral for him.

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