Birth: April 28, 1874 Warrensburg, Missiouri)
Death: February 12, 1947 (Beverly Hills, California)
Sidney Toler was cast to replace Warner Oland as the new Charlie
Chan in 1938. Toler was already in his mid sixties when he took on
the role. Like Warner Oland, Sidney Toler had slightly
Oriental features, so he required only minor make-up. Toler developed
into a very credible Chan slightly more emotional in his character
than Oland. In some ways he was closer to the Chan of the novels.
Sidney Toler presented a more quick-witted and much funnier Chan
than the Warner Oland version of the character.
The son of a horse breeder and graduate of Kansas University,
Sidney Toler had fifty films under his belt before he first played
Charlie Chan for Fox. He also had much success on Broadway, where
he not only appeared on the stage, he wrote for it. He was an
accomplished baritone opera singer as well.
With the second round of Chan films, the Birmingham Brown character
was added and various Chan offspring. Another change in formula was
that Chan was no longer working for the Honolulu police. He became
a government agent, therefore, his frequent absences from Hawaii did
not have to be explained.
Toler took on the role of Chan through 22 films from 1938 to 1947.
He was in his seventies and slowed down considerably in later
Toler was so ill during the making of his last Chan films that he
could barely walk. On Wednesday, February 12, 1947, he died at home
in Hollywood, of intestinal cancer. He is buried at Highland
Cemetery in Wichita, KS.