Charles Sherman “Charlie” Ruggles (February 8, 1886 – December 23, 1970) was a comic American actor. In a career spanning six decades, Ruggles appeared in close to 100 feature films. He was also the brother of director, producer, and silent actor Wesley Ruggles (1889–1972).
Charlie Ruggles was born in Los Angeles, California in 1886. Despite training to be a doctor, Ruggles soon found himself on the stage, appearing in a stock production of Nathan Hale in 1905. At Los Angeles's Majestic Theatre, he played the romantic lead Private Jo Files in L. Frank Baum and Louis F. Gottschalk's musical, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz in 1913. He moved to Broadway to appear in Help Wanted in 1914. His first screen role came in the silent Peer Gynt the following year. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s Ruggles continued to appear in silent movies, though his passion remained the stage, appearing in long-running productions such as The Passing Show of 1918, The Demi-Virgin and Battling Butler. His most famous stage hit was one of his last before a twenty year hiatus, Queen High, produced in 1930.
From 1929, Ruggles appeared in talking pictures. His first was Gentleman of the Press in which he played a comic, alcoholic newspaper reporter. Throughout the 1930s he was teamed with comic actress Mary Boland in a string of domestic farces, notably Six of a Kind, Ruggles of Red Gap, andPeople Will Talk; Boland was the domineering wife and Ruggles the mild-mannered husband. Ruggles is best remembered today as the big-game hunter in Bringing Up Baby. In other films he often played the "comic relief" character in otherwise straight films. In all, he appeared in about 100 movies.
In 1949, Ruggles halted his film career to return to the stage and to move into television. He was the headline character in the TV series The Ruggles, a family comedy in which he played a character also called Charlie Ruggles, and The World of Mr. Sweeney. He guest starred on NBC's The Martha Raye Show. In 1961, Ruggles was cast in "Hassie's European Tour", in which he portrays a wealthy neighbor who offers to finance a European trip for series character Hassie McCoy (Lydia Reed) on ABC's The Real McCoys, starring Walter Brennan.
Ruggles returned to the big screen in 1961, playing Charles McKendrick in The Parent Trap and Mackenzie Savage in The Pleasure of His Company. In the latter film, he reprised the role for which he had won a Tony Award in 1959. He had a recurring guest role on The Beverly Hillbillies in the mid-1960s as Lowell Redlings Farquhar, father-in-law of Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey). Ruggles also played Aunt Clara's (Marion Lorne) old flame, the warlock Hedley Partridge as well as a Mr. Caldwell in the television series Bewitched, with Agnes Moorehead, Dick York, and Elizabeth Montgomery.
Ruggles also lent his voice to the Aesop and Son features in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show television cartoon series produced by Jay Ward and Bill Scott. Ruggles played Aesop.
Both of his marriages, to Adele Rowland (1914–1921) and Marion LaBarba (1942–1970), ended in divorce.
Ruggles died of cancer at his Hollywood home in 1970 at the age of 84. He was interred in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.