|Birth Day:||January 15, 1853|
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He played the antagonistic Ebenezer Scrooge in a 1908 production of A Christmas Carol.
In 1906, after he had been with the Shuberts for four years, Ricketts was persuaded by a friend to join Essanay Studios in Chicago. He played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1908), the first American film adaption of the Dickens classic, then starred in The Old Curiosity Shop (1909). When Ricketts said he had toured with a comedy he had written, A Cure for Gout, the company asked him to make a 600-foot film of it—the length limit for a comedy at that time.
Ricketts became a director, taking over comedies and melodramas from Broncho Billy Anderson, who in turn took over Westerns. Ethel Clayton, Jack Conway, J. Warren Kerrigan and Bryant Washburn were among Ricketts's discoveries—along with Josephine Ditt, "the best-dressed woman on the screen", to whom Ricketts was married. Chief dramatic and general producer for two years at Essanay, he helped organize the American Film Manufacturing Company in 1910. He made six films for the Flying "A" before withdrawing and seeking another opportunity.
In 1911 Ricketts moved to California, together with Canadian film pioneer Al Christie, with thoughts of creating a new film company. "We arrived in Los Angeles with no idea of where to establish our studio," Ricketts remembered. "A real estate man who happened to overhear our discussion of a studio site suggested Hollywood. The next day we found our way out to Sunset and Gower, to a defunct roadhouse. The owner, a woman, wanted $60 a month rent for the entire block. We thought it was too much, but we signed a lease." The Nestor Film Company opened its studio October 27, 1911.
Nestor made between 50 and 60 films—half of them directed by Ricketts—over the next 18 months. On May 20, 1912, the company merged with the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Nestor's distributor beginning with The Dawn of Netta (1912), directed by Ricketts.
In 1914, on an independent contract, Ricketts directed Richard Bennett in Damaged Goods. When flower girls were needed for a wedding scene, Bennett's three daughters—Joan Bennett, Constance Bennett and Barbara Bennett—began their film careers. "Its success made me a little egotistical," Ricketts recalled. "It cost about $25,000 to make and brought in a million and a half on its first run. I naturally thought it would put me in great demand as a director. But it didn't. I had to start all over again, this time going back to my old trade as an actor."
Returning to acting in 1919, in his mid-60s, Ricketts was almost always in demand for character parts. By 1935 he was described as "white-haired and bent with age … content with an occasional film role". His later films included Top Hat (1935), After the Thin Man (1936), Pennies from Heaven (1936), The Young in Heart (1938) and Son of Frankenstein (1939). He was regarded as the oldest working actor in Hollywood.
Currently, Tom Ricketts is 169 years, 0 months and 5 days old. Tom Ricketts will celebrate 170th birthday on a Sunday 15th of January 2023.
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