Fun Fact Friday presents: Granville Redmond, one of film’s earliest deaf actors

Fun Fact Friday brings you, our audience, facts and information sparking discussions related to “inclusion” as it intersects with disability, culture, and society.

Redmond (left) and Chaplin (right) on the set of A Dog's Left (1918)

Redmond (left) and Chaplin (right) on the set of A Dog’s Life (1918)

This Week’s Fact:

While Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin may serve as one of the most well-known actors who is deaf (known for her role as Sarah Norman in Randa Haines’ Children of a Lesser God (1986) and more recently as the recurring character Melody Bledsoe in the TV series Switched at Birth, (2011-2017)) deaf actors participated in the film industry at least a century beforehand, albeit not in starring roles.  One of those individuals was Granville Redmond, who was a landscape artist and “became a permanent fixture in San Francisco art circles” (Schuchman 23). His “’art of mimicry’” in a film caught the attention of silent film star Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin invited Redmond to Hollywood, assuring him that it was not necessary to speak. Redmond first appeared in A Dog’s Life, (1918) and was in other Chaplin films as well, including The Kid (1921) and City Lights (1931) (23-25). Chaplin even “gave Redmond space to paint at the Chaplin production facilities, where Redmond produced some works for films, others for himself, and some that Chaplin purchased” (24).

Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member

Works Cited

Schuchman, John S. Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

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