James C. Morton
born: 25 August 1884
Helena, Montana,
United States of America
died: 27 October 1942
Reseda, California,
United States of America
(chronic myocarditis, aged 58)
Loveable, balding American actor, a regular opponent to Laurel and Hardy - often as a policeman.
James’s father was Henry K. Lankton, who usually went by the name Harry, born in New York, NY on 23 June 1857, and his mother Ann Lankton (sometimes given as Annie). Interestingly, for someone who so often played policemen in film comedies, James’s father seems to have been on the New York City police force; a city directory from 1883 lists him as such. The Lanktons were, in the year prior to James’s birth, living at 113 Washington Place.
At some point around 1902, James married. Records don’t indicate the name of his spouse, and the information has to be inferred from later sources that indicate his son Alfred was born in New Jersey on 8 April 1903, and that at some point James and Alfred’s mother divorced.
Exactly when James adopted the last name Morton as his stage pseudonym is unclear, but it occurred no later than 1910. The cast of the Broadway musical “The Merry Whirl,” which debuted in May, 1910, lists “James C. Morton” in its cast. He remained busy on Broadway and on the vaudeville circuit over the next twenty years; his last Broadway credit, from February 1931, places him in the role of “Judge Halsey” in the drama “Hobo,” which unfortunately had a short run.
James’s WWI draft registration, dated September 7, 1918, shows him living on Long Island, and currently employed in the “Theatrical” industry, through “United Booking”. Interestingly, though James still went by the surname Lankton at this time for legal purposes, he listed his nearest relative as his father, Harry K. Morton, who resided in Fletcher Place in the Bronx. This may have been an error on the part of the Selective Service official who made out the card, as other sources show James’s father’s last name as the same as his own, Lankton, and there’s an error in arithmetic too, for though James’s date of birth is recorded correctly, his age is given as 35 when in fact he had turned 34 only two weeks before. James’s physical characteristics were described as “medium” height and build, “gray” eyes, and “brown” hair. A note at the end of the registration card states “Theatrical Name James C. Morton”.
The 1940 census has “James C. Morton” living at 2051 Corning Avenue, Los Angeles, an address only about a half mile northeast of the Hal Roach Studio and even closer (a matter of a few blocks) to the Arnaz Ranch site owned by Roach and used as an ancillary filming location. James rented this home (which has been completely obliterated by new apartment buildings) for a modest $30 a month, so it was likely a small bungalow similar to the few contemporary survivals in the neighborhood. With James lived his 37 year old son, Alfred, though James indicated his age as 54 (which would imply Alfred had been born when James was 17). Both James and Alfred recorded their occupations as “free lance actor” at “Motion picture studio”. Under education, James had completed 6 years of school, and Alfred 8. This suggests James’s education ended somewhere around the year 1896. James’s marital status is “divorced” at this time. But not for long.
Later that year, James remarried, on December 7, to Elizabeth “Betty” Dolmage, in Santa Monica, CA. James’s age on the marriage certificate was given as 55, though in fact he was 56, and Betty’s was 18. (Quite an age difference, especially for that era!) Witnesses for the marriage were his son, Alfred Morton, and Alfred’s wife Joan. (Interestingly, James’s son took his stage name as his legal surname). James was still living at 2051 Corning, and listed his occupation as “Actor” on the marriage certificate.
James C. Morton passed away on October 27, 1942 at his present home, 18138 Erwin St., Reseda, CA. (Reseda is a considerable distance northwest of Morton’s former address on Corning Ave.; the town is situated between Van Nuys and Canoga Park). The death certificate lists cause as “chronic myocarditis” and indicates James had been under treatment by a doctor for three days leading to his death (which is undoubtedly why his date of death is often misrepresented as occurring October 24). The attending physician recorded James had had this condition 11 years, or since about 1931. James was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, CA, (Plot: Section A, Lot 104) on October 30th. James’s son Alfred passed away at the age of 67 on 13 August 1970.
Prior to his death in 1942, he had accompanied Laurel and Hardy on two tours, performing in the Drivers license sketch.
Real name: James Carmody Lankton
Height: 5'8½"
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography;
plus all films with Charley Chase.

46


1932
Pack Up Your Troubles
Policeman
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1932
Hot Spot
Man at train station
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1932
Alum And Eve
Policeman
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1932
The Soilers
Judge J.A. Morton
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1932
Taxi For Two
Judge J.A. Morton

1932
Sneak Easily
Judge
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1932
A Lad An' A Lamp
Officer
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
Bring 'Em Back A Wife
Archie, taxi cab superintendent
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
Fallen Arches
Automobile driver
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
Wreckety Wrecks
Patrolman
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
Me And My Pal
Traffic cop
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
His Silent Racket
Captain Wafflebottom of the Bomb Squad
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
The Devil's Brother
Woodchopper
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
The Rummy
Taxidermist
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
The Midnight Patrol
Policeman
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1933
Rhapsody In Brew
Waiter

1934
Next Week-End
Nightclub patron

1934
I'll Take Vanilla
Druggist
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1934
Maid In Hollywood
Grip
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1934
Benny, From Panama
Morton, landlord

1934
Movie Daze
Mr. Morton
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1934
Another Wild Idea
Milkman

1934
It Happened One Day
Man on train with toupee

1934
One-Horse Farmers
Paradise Acres promoter
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1934
Mike Fright
Mr. Morton, station manager
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1934
Something Simple
Ambulance driver

1934
Washee Ironee
Policeman
 

1934
You Said A Hatful!
Train passenger

1934
The Chases Of Pimple Street
Bouncer
 

1935
Tit For Tat
Policeman

1935
The Fixer Uppers
Policeman

1935
Beginner's Luck
Piano player

1935
Poker At Eight
Second taxi driver

1935
Twin Triplets
Professor Pino

1936
The Bohemian Girl
Constable

1936
The Lucky Corner
Officer
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1936
Hill-Tillies
Policeman

1936
Kelly The Second
Policeman Mike
 

1936
Our Relations
Beer garden bartender
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1937
Way Out West
Saloon bartender
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

1937
Pick A Star
Bartender
 

1938
Block-Heads
James, porter

1939
Topper Takes A Trip
First bailiff

1939
The Housekeeper's Daughter
Policeman

1940
Saps At Sea
[?]
 

1941
Road Show
Sheriff
NON-HAL ROACH FILMS

1937
Calling All Doctors
Pallbearer

1938
The Nightshirt Bandit
Dr. Gideon Pruitt



Acknowledgements:
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=6121601&PIpi=20953749 (Mark R. Daniels, Find A Grave)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V48T-PBN
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-16362-6957-70?cc=1861144
Robert Winslow (bio notes and extensive research)
Frank Reighter (portrait photo)
Jesse Brisson (information about height)
James L. Neibaur (identification)

This page was last updated on: 12 June 2021