Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Some puppy love.. ..with Karl Dane

Welcome to a new issue of my puppy love series.. 

And this one actually today maybe a bit teary-eyed.. 

Our guest today:

Karl Dane

 * October 12, 1886 (Copenhagen, Denmark)
† April 14, 1934 (Los Angeles, California, USA)


I don't think that he is too well-known - that's why I wrote a bit more - but quite not enough about Karl Dane

He was born as Rasmus Carl Therkelsen Gottlieb. His childhood wasn't an easy one - not enough money and apparently his father was more interested in alcohol than anything - or anyone - else. So young Carl is said to have done what many children do when they are in trouble: they escape into fantasy worlds - via imagination, music, books and theatre (and nowadays: films and telly).. 

In 1916 he emigrated to the United States of America - leaving his wife and two children in Denmark - planning to send for them later. That never happened - his wife filed for divorce. Leaving him apparently  - I wasn't there, you know.. - very sad and lonely in a country which language he hardly spoke.

He first worked in Brooklyn as a mechanic - before he went on to Hollywood. There he would gain some smaller parts but eventually started kind of a career as "the villainous hun" - WWI was going on and the mood was quite anti-German. This might be why he changed his name officially into Karl Dane when he became an American citizen in 1919.. The tall actor (6'3½ = 1.92m) should also become more popular as a comic actor - mostly used as comic relief. 

Two of his most famous films are THE BIG PARADE (1925) and SON OF THE SHEIK (1926).

~ With Scottish actor George K. Arthur he formed the comedy team Arthur & Dane - here in ROOKIES (1927)~ 

In the rising days of the talkies studios decided that his thick Danish accent wouldn't allow him to continue his career - and who could be funny with a foreign accent? ... This might be also one cause for the nervous breakdown Karl Dane suffered from - which of course didn't help to revive his career. His last film was THE WHISPERING SHADOW (1933) in which his friend Béla Lugosi starred.

Karl Dane then would sell hot dogs - outside the MGM studios - where he used to work so successfully before. His business didn't pay out and soon he was again about to find a job to gain some money - reportedly he even asked (and was neglected) for a job at MGM as a carpenter ($5 a day..).

In 1934 at the age of 47 he committed suicide by shooting himself into the head. His 28 year old friend Frances Leake found him - he didn't show up when she invited him to visit a show to cheer him up - and she was worried.. 

The more fortunate Danish actor Jean Hersholt is said to have convinced MGM studios to pay for his funeral - he denied that.

It is also said that the day before his death Karl Dane was pickpocketed and most (if not all) of his capital was taken from him: $18.. 

No happy ending here, isn't it?

Let's have a look on more brighter days of Karl Dane:

~ his nickname actually was The Great Dane.. ~

~ Here he is with George K. Arthur and Jack Benny. ~

And let's not forget that it's still a Some Puppy Love post!

Karl Dane was very fond of animals. Apparently after the filming of  THE TRAIL OF '98 (1928) he rescued two dogs.

I do not know whether those are said dogs - but I certainly like to share those pictures with you:

~ I think this is a really nice picture - a charming Karl Dane and a very smart looking dog. ~

and have one of my favourite pictures of Karl Dane:

~well.. yes.. one of these dogs is actually a deer - a dear deer indeed.. ~

Thank you very much for listening!

And if you could do me a favour: Whenever you watch one of his films: please watch out carefully for The really Great and still so sad Dane!

Thank you very, very much!




  1. Thanks for this wonderful and informative post Irene. Now I know about Karl Dane.

  2. You're welcome, Monty! Thank you for reading - and leaving so nice comments!

  3. Wow, such a tragic life!! I have never heard of him, so I'm glad you brought him to my attention. He deserves to be remembered!

    I say, though, he really ought to have had his picture taken with a Great Dane, oughtn't he? The German Shepherd is pretty, but with his nickname, you would have thought he would have gravitated to Great Danes.

    Thanks for an informational post.

  4. Glad you liked to learn about him, Patti! There are even more sad things - like that next to his death body they found his scrap book filled with reviews and photos - apparently he was browisng through better times before he ended his life.. Actually I can't say which is legend and which is truth that's why I (would you believe that??) shortened my text about him..

    I agree:

    - He derseves to be remembered.

    - A Great Dane would have been the perfect dog for publicity stills. I didn't find such.. When I stumble over some I will post them. Promise! I can't imagine that Hollywood would have neglected the chance of a caption like: "Two Great Danes - one of them a star" - or something like that..

    Thank you too for reading my posts and leaving your wonderful comments!


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")