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Kenneth Thomson (actor)

Kenneth Thomson
Charles Kenneth Thomson

(1899-01-07)January 7, 1899
DiedJanuary 26, 1967(1967-01-26) (aged 68)
Alma materCarnegie Institute of Technology
Years active1926–1937
SpouseAlden Gay (1928 - ?)

Charles Kenneth Thomson (January 7, 1899 – January 26, 1967) was an American character actor active on stage and on film during the silent and early sound film eras.

Early years

Born in Pittsburgh,[1] Thomson was the son of Edith Taylor Thomson, a concert manager,[2] who raised him alone after his father died when Kenneth was seven years old. As a youth, he worked as a copy boy at the Pittsburgh Leader and helped to distribute publicity material for concerts that his mother arranged. Later, he worked for a steel company and an insurance company[3]

During World War I, Thomson was in the United States Marine Corps, with his service including being a gunner on the U. S. Frederick cruiser. At the war's end, he went to the Norfolk Navy Yard until he was discharged. After returning to Pittsburgh, he re-enrolled at Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT), He acted in plays at the institute[3] and graduated from CIT's Drama School,[2]


After graduation from CIT, Thomson worked as an extra and assistant stage manager with a stock theater company in Lakewood, Maine, for several summers. He also acted with Ethel Barrymore in a touring production of Declassee. During subsequent winters he acted in plays that included Shavings and The Emperor Jones. During a winter on the Pacific coast, he acted in a touring production of Three Wise Fools. He later acted with a stock company headed by Margaret Anglin.[3]

Following his west-coast performance in The Rivals, Thomson declined a contract offer to work in films from Cecil B. DeMille, Returning to New York, Thomson acted in Hush Money with Henry Miller's company., following which he accepted a two-year contract offer from DeMille.[3]

Thomson and his wife, Alden Gay, were founding members of the Screen Actors Guild.[4] The group was founded after meetings held at the Thomsons' home during 1933.[5] He was the group's secretary and its magazine's managing editor.[2]

During Thomson's 12-year career in front of the camera, he appeared in over 60 films.[6] After appearing in several Broadway plays during the early and mid-1920s, Thomson would make his film debut with a starring role in 1926's Risky Business.[7] Over the next four years, he appeared in more than a dozen films, in either starring or featured roles. In 1930 alone he would appear in 10 films, half of which were in starring roles, such as Lawful Larceny,[8] which also starred Bebe Daniels and Lowell Sherman (who also directed), and Reno, whose other stars were Ruth Roland and Montagu Love;[9] the other half had him in featured roles as in A Notorious Affair, starring Billie Dove, Basil Rathbone, and Kay Francis.[10] During the rest of the 1930s, he appeared in numerous films, mostly in either supporting or featured roles, such as The Little Giant (1933), starring Edward G. Robinson and Mary Astor, and Hop-Along Cassidy (1935), starring William Boyd; although he occasionally had a starring role, as in opposite Harold Lloyd in 1932's Movie Crazy.

On Broadway, Thomson appeared in The Great Broxopp (1921), The Czarina (1922), and Hush Money (1926).[11]

Personal life and death

Thomson married actress Alden Gay in 1928.[3] On January 26, 1967, Thomson died in Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital at age 67.[12]


(Per AFI database)[6]


  1. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (May 2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7864-5019-0. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Parry, Florence Fisher (May 24, 1936). "Screen Guild". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 36. Retrieved November 26, 2020 – via
  3. ^ a b c d e Baubie, James A.; Fritchey, Clayton (February 7, 1931). "Copy Boy Rises To Stardom In Films". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 3. Retrieved November 26, 2020 – via
  4. ^ "SAG History". Screen Actors Guild. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  5. ^ "Masquers Club". SAG. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Kenneth Thomson". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  7. ^ "Kenneth Thomson". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  8. ^ "Lawful Larceny". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  9. ^ "Reno". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "A Notorious Affair". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  11. ^ "Kenneth Thomson". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on November 26, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  12. ^ "Kenneth Thomson". The New York Times. United Press International. January 27, 1967. p. 45. Retrieved November 26, 2020 – via ProQuest.
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Kenneth Thomson (actor)
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