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Billie Ritchie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Billie Ritchie
Billie Ritchie.png
William Hill[1]

(1874-09-05)5 September 1874
Died6 July 1921(1921-07-06) (aged 46)
Spouse(s)Winifred Frances Kirby
A Bold, Bad Breeze, (1916)
A Bold, Bad Breeze, (1916)

William Hill, known professionally as Billie Ritchie (5 September 1874 – 6 July 1921), was a Scottish comedian who first gained transatlantic fame as a performer for British music hall producer Fred Karno — thus, a full decade before Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin took a similar career path. Ritchie is best recalled today for the silent comedy shorts he made between 1914 and 1920 for director/producer Henry Lehrman's L-KO Kompany and Fox Film Sunshine Comedy unit.


Variations on Ritchie's "tramp" and "drunk" personae – which Ritchie claimed he had developed before and during his Karno years – were introduced to film audiences by Charlie Chaplin in such shorts as the Lehrman-directed Kid Auto Races at Venice (7 February 1914) and Mabel's Strange Predicament (9 February 1914).

Ritchie, who, due to a series of on-set injuries, spent his final years relatively inactive, succumbed to stomach cancer in the summer of 1921.[2] Winifred Frances, the comedian's widow, and one-time stage partner, wound up in the employ of Charlie Chaplin as a wardrobe mistress, showing there was no animosity between the two performers.[3] Wyn Ritchie, their daughter, was also a performer, and, in private life, the wife (for 55 years) of songwriter Ray Evans.

In popular culture

In 1918 Dutch illustrator David Bueno de Mesquita created a comic book about Ritchie named Billie Ritchie en Zijn Ezel (Billie Ritchie and his Donkey). This was the first celebrity comic in Dutch history.[4]


  1. ^ Steve Massa- Lame Brains and Lunatics pp.55
  2. ^ Steve Massa- Lame Brains and Lunatics pp. 66-67
  3. ^ Steve Massa- Lame Brains and Lunatics pp. 67-68
  4. ^ "David Bueno de Mesquita".


  • Massa, Steve (30 April 2013). Lame Brains and Lunatics: The Good, The Bad, And The Forgotten of Silent Comedy (pp. 55-68). BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1593932688.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 December 2021, at 12:34
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