The Popcorn Flick was a Saturday afternoon film showcase on local television when I was a child. It featured popular series from the golden age of Hollywood like Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes, Ma and Pa Kettle with Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, the Andy Hardy Series and others. You get the idea. Along with Shock Theater, another local T.V. cornucopia of old films (this one featuring classic Universal horror reels), the Popcorn Flick was one of my first experiences with classic movies and their stars. Once such character driven film set I was introduced to as a 7 year-old, who thoroughly enjoyed these things (what??!) was Charlie Chan. Though I first became aware of the Oriental detective, whose sleuthing skills took him to the Opera, the Circus (both 1936) and even to the Olympics (1937), very young, I didn't actually understand or enjoy these films until the ripe old age of 11 or so.
Three actors portrayed the low-key snoop during his popular run in the 1930's and 1940's, none of which were actually of Asian descent (there were a handful of obscure portrayals other than these well known ones). The first was Warner Oland, a Swedish actor, who played Chan until his death in 1938, when Sidney Toler, who was of Scottish American descent, took over the role. Finally upon Toler's death in 1947, Boston born Roland Winters finished out the final installments in the late 40's.
Although I have my personal favorite Chan actor, I ask, if you have ever seen any of these classic whodunits, who is your favorite?