Fred Jefferson

born: 31 May 1880
Sydney, New South Wales,
Australia
died: 23 August 1952
Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
(heart attack, age 72)

Australian-born actor and director who worked in both capacities for Rolin/Roach between 1915 and 1919. The 1930 Census says he came to the United States in 1899. He entered films with Universal in 1914, and at least one article mentions an association with Mack Sennett, in addition to his proven time with Hal Roach/Rolin Film Company. He appeared in Rolin films as early as 1915; a still exists from one of these early Rolin films showing a young, glasses-less Harold Lloyd and then-leading lady Jane Novak standing in front of a church surrounded by people, and Jefferson can be seen at far right of the crowd dressed as a priest. Trade papers announced in December 1916 that he was promoted to assistant director to Roach. After several short-lived directorial ventures throughout the 1920s (including a series of one-reel comedies starring Victor Adamson as "Denver Dixon"), Jefferson and Eska Wilson went to Hawaii in late 1929 to shoot a proposed four films for a company called Jefferson-Hawaiian Films, starring Hugh Allan and Gladys McConnell. However, in December 1929, Allan and McConnell filed suit against Jefferson-Hawaiian, alleging failure to pay their salaries. In March 1930, Eska Wilson was arrested and charged with violating California labor laws, with Allan and McConnell charging that Wilson "abandoned them and left them in their own resources" after they arrived in Hawaii. Allan recalled in a 1992 interview with film historian Michael G. Ankerich that the company ran out of money after the October 1929 stock crash, and that the director (unnamed in the conversation) "tried unsuccessfully to raise the needed funds from the locals. Hugh [also] discovered he was filming scenes without film in the camera." For his part, Jefferson (as Frederick A. Jefferson) wrote a defensive response in the February 24, 1930 issue of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Wilson was ultimately found not guilty, as "[t]he prosecution was unable to prove that Wilson knew he would not be able to pay the salaries promised at the time he engaged their services." Jefferson seems to have fallen off the radar after this incident. He was unemployed by 1942, and worked as a photographer and then as an "extra man" at a "picture studio," the latter at the time of his death after he suffered a heart attack two weeks prior.
Real name: Frederick Augustus Davis
Height: 5'7"
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.

10


1915
Into The Light
Priest

1917
Luke's Busy Day
[?]

1917
Lonesome Luke, Mechanic
[?]

1917
Lonesome Luke In From London To Laramie
[?]

1917
Lonesome Luke In Clubs Are Trump
Third lover on park bench

1917
The City Slicker
Elderly hotel patron
(seated in middle during the lunch scene)

1919
Ask Father
Justice of the Peace

1919
I'm On My Way
Elderly house guest in background

1919
Si, Senor
[?]

1919
The Marathon
Chief of Police
(he does the 'mirror' routine with Harold)

Acknowledgements & sources:
The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia by Annette D'Agostino Lloyd (book)
Frederick Augustus Davis, "Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922" (Ancestry.com)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZVF-PZK (WWI draft reg. card)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZVF-GPN (WWI draft reg. card)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8ZR-SDJ (1920 marriage)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVR9-PRDL (1928 pass. list)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZQM-LPR (1929 pass. list)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9Z-X5ZZ (1929 pass. list)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XH1F-KT9 (1930 Census)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KXHS-9MY (1930 pass. list)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V4D7-1ZP (WWII draft reg. card)
Frederick Augustus Davis, "California, Federal Naturalization Records, 1843-1999" (Ancestry.com)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KXQM-T8D (CA Nat. Index)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP7X-DBN (CA Death Index)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QG15-QRKN (death certificate)
https://archive.org/stream/movpicwor302movi#page/1950/mode/1up/search/%22fred+jefferson%22 (Moving Picture World, 30 Dec 1916)
https://archive.org/stream/movpicwor482movi#page/n471/mode/1up/search/%22fred+jefferson%22 (Moving Picture World, 26 Feb 1921)
https://archive.org/stream/filmdailyvolume11516newy#page/979/mode/1up/search/%22fred+a+jefferson%22 (Film Daily, 24 Apr 1921)
https://archive.org/stream/filmdaily1920newy#page/n1206/mode/1up/search/%22fred+a+jefferson%22 (Film Daily, 11 Jun 1922)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V25S-JJP (daughter Dorothy I. in CA Birth Index, 1909)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V253-W7Z (son Done in CA Birth Index, 1910)
Jesse Brisson (research, information, identifications in some films)

This page was last updated on: 24 October 2019