Mary Boland. L'amour, l'amour ... The Siren let poor Mary down, so she is picking her up again, dearie.
Eugene Pallette. As Moviezzz puts it, "From his work in the Philo Vance films, the Deanna Durbin films, to Friar Tuck, and Mr. Smith as well as My Man Godfrey, he is one actor that I will see anything he does. That voice alone. And, in something like First Love, he can even play against type." The Siren remembers Pallette's deathless performance in My Man Godfrey, as the head of the Bullock clan, and deeply regrets not including him. He's superb in that movie, buttressing his fragile sanity by firing off joke after joke at his batty family's expense: "All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people."
Mary Wickes. DeeLuzon was too right about her, this was a face one was always happy to see.
Mischa Auer. You're right, X. Trapnel--all it took was recollecting Carlo's monkey imitation to make the Siren regret Auer's absence.
William Demarest. The brain switch was in the "off" position when the Siren omitted him from the post. He should have made it just for the way he delivers Preston Sturges' musings on the lifelong bond between a pater familias and his female offspring: "Either they leave their husbands and come back with four children and move into your guest room, or their husband loses his job and the whole kaboodle comes back. Or else they're so homely you can't get rid of them at all and they hang around the house like Spanish moss and shame you into an early grave." Shamus, Ivan, anyone else -- there he is now, where he belongs.
Franklin Pangborn. The ultimate "sissy" as discussed by Vito Russo, but Pangborn always gave his roles great interior dignity. Whether fitting a dress, running a cruise ship, overwhelmed by a treasure hunt or organizing a welcoming committee for an ersatz hero, Pangborn played the dilemma the way his character saw it--as a problem of great societal import.
Blanket apologies to the shades of the following: James Gleason, Charlie Lane, Charlie Ruggles, Robert Dudley, Charles Coburn, Alan Hale, Billy Gilbert, Melville Cooper, Sig Ruman, Roland Young.
GayasXmas makes an excellent point, that the best character acting is now to be found on television. Which also segues to Alex's excellent question--WHY did character actors disappear from the movies? certainly the talent is still out there. Alex pins it on plot construction. The Siren agrees, but adds that more than ever, plots are woven around the marquee-name stars, and larded with special effects that, in addition to administering the requisite number of jolts, also are built to get the laughs that used to belong to the character players. The Siren repeats something she mentioned when discussing Mildred Natwick (oops, we ALL forgot Mildred, didn't we? for shame!):
Nowadays the studios pay $20 million or whatever for Jim Carrey, and once they pay that you are by God going to get Jim Carrey in every frame, I don't care if it's a childbirth scene in a women's prison, we'll get Carrey in there somewhere. Star vehicles have no room for a superb character actress like Natwick, mud-fence homely but perfect in every role.
The Siren winds up by saying that it's no coincidence that the Coen brothers, with their reverence for the likes of Preston Sturges and encyclopedic knowledge of film history, are among the small group of filmmakers who still recognize that a character turn can help lift a movie into immortality. Any other filmmakers still doing that?