Roland Winters, the actor who played Charlie Chan in Monogram Studios’ last Chan pictures, was born in Boston, Mass., on December 22, 1904.
He began work in the theatre in 1928, and by 1933 was a successful supporting player. He also did a fair amount of radio, including appearances on the “Kay Kyser Show,” the “Kate Smith Show,” and “Henry Aldrich.”
Monogram Pictures chose him to replace Sidney Toler after Toler’s death in early 1947, and Winters made six Chans for the studio, the first being “The Chinese Ring,” and the last, “The Sky Dragon.” Winters was the youngest of the big three that tackled the role of the great detective– he was 44, but as Ken Hanke notes in Charlie Chan at the Movies, that hardly made him a more energetic Chan. Of Oland’s, Toler’s and Winters’ characterizations, Winters’ Chan was the least likely to over-exert himself to solve a case.
After his Monogram Chans, Winters did TV work, including appearances as the boss on “Meet Millie” in the early 50s, and he was in the Smothers Brothers’ 1965 sitcom (not the later variety series). As for other film work, he was in more than 80 films total, including “13 Rue Madeleine” in 1948 (with James Cagney), and “Blue Hawaii” in 1961 (as Elvis’ dad!).
The late 60s marked a return to the Broadway stage for the actor– he appeared in the musical “Minnie’s Boys.”
Roland Winters died of a stroke at the Actor’s Fund Nursing Home in Englewood, N.J., on October 22, 1989. He was 84.