Charley Chase was an American comedian, actor, screenwriter and film director, best known for his work in Hal Roach short film comedies. He was the older brother of comedian/director James Parrott.
Born Charles Joseph Parrott in Baltimore, Maryland, Chase began performing in vaudeville as a teenager and started his career in films by working at the Christie Film Company in 1912. He then moved to Keystone Studios, where he began appearing in bit parts in the Mack Sennett films, including those of Charlie Chaplin. By 1915 he was playing juvenile leads in the Keystones, and directing some of the films as Charles Parrott. His Keystone credentials were good enough to get him steady work as a comedy director with other companies; he directed many of Chaplin imitator Billy West's comedies, which featured a young Oliver Hardy as villain.
In 1920, Chase began working as a film director for Hal Roach Studios; among his notable early works for Roach was supervising the first entries in the Our Gang series, as well as directing several films starring Lloyd Hamilton; like many other silent comedians, Chase is reported to have regarded Hamilton's work as a major influence on that of his own. Chase became Director-General of the Hal Roach Studio in late 1921, supervising the production of all the Roach series with the exception of the Harold Lloyd comedies. He eventually moved back in front of the camera with his own series of shorts following Lloyd's departure from the studio in 1923, adopting the screen name Charley Chase.
Direction of the Chase series was soon taken over by Leo McCarey, who in collaboration with Chase formed the comic style of the series ? an emphasis on characterization and farce instead of knockabout slapstick. Chase was a master of the comedy of embarrassment, and he played either hapless young businessmen or befuddled husbands in dozens of situation comedies. His screen persona was that of a pleasant young man with a dapper mustache and ordinary street clothes; this set him apart from the clownish makeups and crazy costumes used by his contemporaries.