Oscar Apfel
born: 17 January 1879
Cleveland, Ohio,
United States of America
died: 21 March 1938
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
(heart attack, age 59)
American stage and screen actor, entering films as early as 1911.
Oscar Apfel came from a large family. The 1900 census lists the Apfels at 134 Pelton St., Cleveland Ohio. This is in the Tremont district of Cleveland – the setting of the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, and Oscar’s childhood home (which no longer stands) would be only a few blocks from Ralphie’s as seen in the movie. In 1900 this neighborhood was predominantly German; almost all of the Apfels’ neighbors, like them, were first- or second-generation German-Americans. In June of 1900 Philip Apfel, Oscar’s father, and Louise, his mother, were both 47. Both his parents had been born in Germany. The Apfels had four children living at home: Philip, born in June 1875; Louise, born September 1877; Oscar, born January 1879; Martha, born July 1886. Oscar’s father was a grocer and had been in business 27 years, or roughly since 1873. Philip was a “Superintendent” (of what the census doesn’t say), the younger Louise a “piano teacher,” and Oscar a “clerk.” Martha was still in school. It’s possible the Apfels were living at the same address in 1880, though the census of June of that year doesn’t give an address. In this census, Oscar is 1.
In 1898, at the time of the Spanish-American War, Oscar Apfel enlisted, on April 25 as a private in Co. C of the 1st Ohio Cavalry. Within a short time he was raised to the rank of corporal and served just under 6 months, receiving a discharge on 22 October. Many years later, on October 8, 1929, Apfel applied for a military pension based on his service.
Oscar married Marion L. Brooks on January 29, 1908, in San Francisco. It isn’t recorded why Apfel was in California at this time.
Although Apfel started working in films no later than 1911 (his earliest recorded credits date from that year), in 1913 he and his wife Marion took a cruise on the Victoria Luise of the Hamburg-America Line, departing New York for the Caribbean on April 10 and returning on the 26th. The passenger manifest listed the Apfels’ address as 454 S. Washington Ave., New York NY. This is in the Prospect Heights area of Brooklyn, which then was also a largely German-American neighborhood. The Apfels seemed fond of traveling; another manifest from 1922 shows them returning from Europe on the Olympic (sister ship of the Titanic) that December. The Apfels were then living at 130 West 44th St., New York City. His passport application of that year for the trip, dated May 5, 1922, states he is traveling for the purpose of “Business – motion pictures” to Britain, France, Holland, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, and that he and his wife intended to sail aboard the liner Majestic on May 20th. They therefore had an extended business trip of 7 months. (This document is also interesting because on it Oscar gives some particulars of his father Philip’s emigration: he had arrived in the US on 15 June 1870 from Hamburg, Germany, meaning Philip was around 17 when he arrived in the US, and that as of 1922 he still lived in Cleveland).
Apfel registered for the draft on September 12, 1918. He gave as his address the Bretton Hall apartment building at 86th and Broadway, New York. His occupation was “stage director” for “World Film Co.” at 130 West 46th St. (This is a considerable distance from his home address). Physical features: “medium” height and build, “blue” eyes, “brown” hair. Due to his age, Oscar received an exemption from the draft; he was 39.
In the 1920 census, Apfel’s name is misspelled as “Apfels,” and he and Marion are living at 600 West 116th St., New York NY, undoubtedly a large apartment building from the number of other names recorded at the same address. Oscar and Marion are both age 40 (Oscar’s taken a year off his actual age) and Oscar is a “Director – Motion Pictures.” The Apfels are prosperous enough to employ a live-in Danish servant, Mary Olsen.
By 1930 the Apfels have relocated to California and the census of that year has them living at 5347 Loma Linda Ave., Los Angeles. This must’ve been a substantial home (it has been completely obliterated by apartment complexes now), because its value in 1930 was recorded as $21,000. Oscar is now “Actor – Motion Pictures.”
Oscar Apfel passed away on 21 March 1938. Cause of death was listed as “essential hypertension,” “coronary thrombosis,” and “arterial nephrosclerosis.” In layman’s terms, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, causing a stroke. The death certificate gave a history of his medical problems: hypertension since 1935, and circulation problems since 1937. He also suffered from uremia as a result of nephrosclerosis, a kidney ailment. His occupation was listed as “actor – motion pictures,” and he’d died at his home, 5347 Loma Linda Avenue. He was cremated and interred at Grand View Park Memorial Cemetery.
Real name: Oscar Carl Apfel Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.


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DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

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Alexander L. Void

You Said A Hatful!
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You Bring The Ducks

https://archive.org/stream/10thcensus1007unit#page/n400/mode/1up (1880 Census, line 23)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11691-48354-66?cc=1325221 (1900 Census, line 45)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-26522-27872-51?cc=1968530 (WWI draft reg. card)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-26184-4691-37?cc=1932433 (CA Death Index)
https://archive.org/stream/variety129-1938-03#page/n301/mode/1up/search/apfel (Variety obit)
Robert Winslow (research and bio notes)
Jesse Brisson (help and information)
Craig Calman (help)

This page was last updated on: 22 May 2021