If you're like me, much of the fun in watching old moving pictures is finding recurring actors in the supporting cast. Let's say you happen to be watching Manhattan Melodrama, when all of a sudden you point at the screen and say "hey, it's that guy!" Nat Pendleton is definitely a strong candidate for the ultimate "hey, it's that guy!" actor.
Although he appeared in well over one hundred pictures, about half of his roles were uncredited (especially in the early years of his career), and then they were typically the same sort of stock character--namely, the hulking no-neck gorilla. Having already achieved some renown as a Olympic silver medalist in the sport of wrestling, he might well have been lured into the moving picture industry by the promise of greater fame and fortune. Nat was never a major star, but after appearing in bit parts in quite a number of pictures (many of which were actually quite good, such as Baby Face, The Thin Man and Horse Feathers), he gained some attention for his role as Eugen Sandow in The Great Ziegfeld (pictured above, with the always awesome William Powell). Thereafter Nat had a relatively stable career, including nine performances as ambulance driver Joe Wayman in the Dr. Kildare series.
Keep an eye out for Nat Pendleton the next time you watch a movie from the 30s. You might be surprised at where he turns up! Nat Pendleton: a pretty cool guy.
[Photo via Dr. Macro]