James Fitzgerald
born: 17 April 1896
Jackson, Mississippi,
United States of America
died: 21 January 1919
Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
(influenza, age 22)
Young, gangly and exceptionally tall (nearly seven feet) American actor, nicknamed "Slim," who frequented Rolin (Roach) shorts with Harold Lloyd and Stan Laurel from 1918 to 1919. Before entering films, he worked as "ballast [inspector] & yard clerk" for the Illinois Central and Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad in Memphis, Tennessee. Evidently taking over the mantle of the studio's resident "Slim" from the equally-tall David Voorhees, who appears to have left the previous August when recruited by the Army during World War I, he appears on the Rolin payroll as early as January 1918 (though he might be in On The Jump, which was largely filmed in December 1917). Fitzgerald also appeared in comedies for L-KO during his brief film career.
With frequent and recognizable appearances in the Lloyd shorts, the tall and lanky Fitzgerald and his physical opposite, short and stout Dee Lampton, seemed to be heading the way of a Sammy Brooks as one of the studio's leading "sight gag" stock players. Sadly, both boys' careers — and lives — would be tragically cut short during the same year. Fitzgerald's number was up first, when he fell victim to the influenza epidemic of the late 'teens in January 1919. The 22-year old would tragically succumb after three days' illness; many of the Lloyd shorts he had completed his parts in were released posthumously, with his final short, Chop Suey & Co. — which completed filming ten days prior to his death — released about seven months later. Between his passing and Lampton's demise in September, as well as Harold Lloyd's August bomb accident (and to a much lesser extent, Bebe Daniels' departure in June), the year of 1919 was not an overly good one for the Rolin stock company...
His father, Charles Fitzgerald, was Post Office Inspector. On 29 September 1908, 22-year old Post Office clerk William Austin Sorsby shot and killed the elder Fitzgerald after he threatened to report an embezzling on the young Sorsby's part. Sorsby was sentenced to life imprisonment; he escaped in late December 1918 and worked three months for the Santa Fe Railroad Company under an assumed name before being arrested once more in May 1920. Sorsby was pardoned by Governor Henry L. Whitfield in late 1925, after other attempts to reach such had been blocked or assisted in blocking by the "well-known and influential" Fitzgerald family; he married Bessie Beasley (1896-1976), worked as a station agent, telegraph operator and general store proprietor, and died in 1953.
Real name: James Marquette Fitzgerald
Height: 6'6" / 6'8" (different sources)
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.

25


1918
On The Jump
[unidentified character]
 

1918
Follow The Crowd
Tall gang member

1918
Pipe The Whiskers
[unidentified character]

1918
It's A Wild Life
Tall waiter

1918
The City Slicker
Tall bellhop

1918
Somewhere In Turkey
[unidentified character]

1918
Just Rambling Along
Restaurant patron

1918
Take A Chance
Tall policeman

1918
She Loves Me Not
[unidentified character]

1919
Do You Love Your Wife?
Tall arresting officer

1919
Going! Going! Gone!
[unidentified character]

1919
Ask Father
Clerk

1919
Hoot Mon!
[unidentified character]

1919
I'm On My Way
Snub's tallest son

1919
The Marathon
Marathon runner

1919
Back To The Woods
[unidentified character]

1919
Pistols For Breakfast
[unidentified character]

1919
Swat The Crook
[unidentified character]

1919
Off The Trolley
Tall trolley rider

1919
Billy Blazes, Esq.
Tall Chinese waiter]

1919
At The Old Stage Door
[unidentified character]

1919
Never Touched Me
Café band trumpeter

1919
A Jazzed Honeymoon
Tall ship worker

1919
Count Your Change
Resident in hallway

1919
Chop Suey & Company
[unidentified character]

Acknowledgements:
https://familysearch.org/pal:/ MM9.3.1/TH-267-12123-38359-47? cc=1325221 (1900 Census, line 70)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/ MM9.3.1/TH-1942-23075-2495-24? cc=1727033 (1910 Census, line 11)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/ MM9.3.1/TH-1942-24950-34230-75 ?cc=1968530 (WWI Draft Reg. Card)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/ MM9.3.1/TH-1971-26181-12624-85 ?cc=1932433 (CA Death Index #2857)
https://archive.org/stream/mov ingpicturewee78movi_1#page/n67 5/mode/1up/search/%22slim+fitz gerald%22 (Moving Picture Weekly, 21 Dec 1918)
https://archive.org/stream/pho toplayjournal03cent#page/n190/ mode/1up/search/%22james+m+fit zgerald%22 (Photo-Play Journal, Apr 1919 - height: 6'6")
https://www.newspapers.com/new spage/79310897/ (Oregon Daily Journal, 3 Sep 1919 - height: 6'8")
https://www.newspapers.com/new spage/130617973/ (Eugene Guard, 3 Sep 1919 - height: 6'8")
http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cd nc?a=d&d=LAH19190903.2.292 (Los Angeles Herald, 3 Sep 1919)
https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/194321222/ (Jackson Daily News, 30 Sep 1908)
https://www.newspapers.com/ newspage/194303639/ (Jackson Daily News, 23 May 1920)
https://www.newspapers.com/ newspage/59739373/ (Fort Scott Daily Tribune, 28 May 1920)
https://www.newspapers.com/ newspage/202431118/ (Clarion-Ledger, 25 Dec 1925)
https://www.newspapers.com/ newspage/312113906/ (Stone County Enterprise, 11 Nov 1926)
https://www.newspapers.com/search/#lnd=1&query=%22will+sorsby%22+fitzgerald (other contemporary articles)
The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia, by Annette D'Agostino Lloyd
Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927, by Ted Okuda and James L. Neibaur
1918 LA City Directory: Fitzgerald J Marquette photoplayer Rolin Film Co
Jesse Brisson (research and information)

This page was last updated on: 26 September 2017