Loosely based on real-life Honolulu detective Chang Apana, Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese-American detective created by Earl Derr Biggers in a series of six books from 1925 to 1932. Charlie resides in Hawaii and works for the Honolulu police, though most films feature Charlie traveling around the world investigating mysteries and solving crimes.
Dozens of films featuring Charlie Chan were made starting in 1926. The character was first portrayed by Asian actors and these first three films met with little success. The Fox studio cast Swedish actor Warner Oland as Chan in "Charlie Chan Carries On" (1931). The film proved popular and Fox went on to produce 15 more Chan films with Oland in the title role. Oland's last film in the series was "Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo" (1937). Many of the original negatives of Fox Pictures' pre-1935 films were destroyed in a storage vault fire in 1937. Consequently, several of the earlier Oland pictures are now consider "lost" films.
After Oland's death, American actor Sidney Toler was cast as Charlie. Toler made 22 Chan films, first for Fox in "Charlie Chan in Honolulu" (1938). When Fox decided to produce no further Chan films, Toler purchased the film rights and went to Monogram Studios, starting with "Charlie Chan in the Secret Service" (1944). Toler's last film was 1947's "The Trap". Stricken with cancer during his last few films, Toler was so physically weak during filming that he often had difficulty walking or saying his lines coherently.
After Toler's death, Roland Winters took over for six more films beginning with "The Chinese Ring" (1947) and ending with "The Sky Dragon" (1949)
Warning: Plot summaries may contain spoilers!
The BooksThe books were originally published by the New York publisher, Bobbs-Merrill.
Over the years dozens of reprints in both hardcover and paperback have been made by many publishers.
RadioCharlie Chan was heard in several different series on three networks (NBC Blue, Mutual, ABC) between 1932 and 1948.
Walter Connolly initially portrayed Chan on Esso Oil's Five Star Theater, which serialized adaptations of Biggers novels.
Ed Begley, Sr. had the title role in N.B.C.'s The Adventures of Charlie Chan (1944-45), followed by Santos Ortega (1947-48).
Leon Janney and Rodney Jacobs were heard as Lee Chan, Number One Son, and Dorian St. George was the announcer.
Radio Life magazine described Begley's Chan as "a good radio match for Sidney Toler's beloved film enactment."
Dumb.com has many episodes to listen to free!
List of all Films
Early FilmsThe House Without a Key (1926 - Pathe) (Silent 10 part serial)
Wealthy Honolulu resident Dan Winterslip has not spoken to his brother, who owns a hotel next to Winterslip's estate, in over twenty years. Their sister Minerva comes from Boston to try to reconcile the two men. Dan's nephew, John Quincy Winterslip, receives a letter instructing him to retrieve a box from San Francisco and dump the contents into the ocean. He is on board a ship bound for Hawaii in which other passengers are also after the box. Dan Winterslip is murdered. Charlie Chan offers to help solve the killing and the mysteries that surround the box. Charlie realizes that a person whose wristwatch is missing the number "three" is the likely culprit.
Writing Credits: Earl Derr Biggers - novel, Frank Leon Smith - adaptation, Frank Leon Smith - scenario
Cast (in credits order)
Allene Ray as Carry Egan
Walter Miller as John Quincy Winterclip
E.H. Calvert as Dan Winterclip
Betty Caldwell as Barbara Winterclip
Natalie Warfield as Minerva Winterclip
Jack Pratt as James Egan
William Norton Bailey as Harry Jennison
Frank Lackteen as Kaohla
George Kuwa as Charlie Chan
Harry Semels as Saladine
Charles H. West as Bowker
John Cossar as District Attorney
Scott Seaton as Detective Hallett
Cliff Saum as Kennedy
John Webb Dillon as Man
Uncredited players: Shia Jung as The Young Chinese Girl
The Chinese Parrot (1927 - Universal) (Silent)
This is a lost film.
Sally Randall, daughter of a wealthy Hawaiian planter, marries Phillimore, even though she loves Philip Madden. Tearing off the expensive pearls given her by her father, Madden declares that one day he will buy her at the same price.
Twenty years later, a widowed Sally offers the pearls for sale in San Francisco. Accompanied by her daughter, she is astonished to discover Madden bargaining for the pearls, which she has entrusted to Charlie with the sale contingent on her delivery of the jewels to Madden's desert home.
Meanwhile, Madden is taken prisoner by thugs and is impersonated by Jerry Delaney, who welcomes Sally and Robert Eden, the jeweler's son, to the ranch. While Charlie is secretly conducting an investigation, the jewels are stolen by various parties, but it develops that a Chinese parrot has witnessed the kidnapping and told him about it.
Writing Credits: Earl Derr Biggers - novel; J. Grubb Alexander - scenario & adaption; Walter Anthony - titles
Marian Nixon as Sally Phillmore
Florence Turner as Mrs. Phillmore
Hobart Bosworth as P.J. Madden/Jerry Delaney
Edward Burns as Robert Eden
Albert Conti as Martin Thorne
Sojin as Charlie Chan
Fred Esmelton as Alexander Eden
Edgar Kennedy as Maydorf
George Kuwa as Louis Wong
Slim Summerville as Prospector
Dan Mason as Prospector
Anna May Wong as Nautch Dancer
Etta Lee as Girl in Gambling Den
Jack Trent as Jordan
Behind That Curtain (1929 - Fox)
Sir George Mannering hires private eye Hilary Galt to dig up dirt on Eric Durand, who wants to marry his daughter, Eve Mannering. Galt is murdered and the couple, now married, run off to India.
Eve soon realizes that her husband is a drunken wastrel and seeks comfort in the arms of old friend, John Beetham. John and Eve fly to San Francisco but Eric shows up and tries to kill John. Charlie Chan intervenes and soon put things right.
Writing Credits: Earl Derr Biggers - novel; Sonya Levien, Clarke Silvernail - writers; George Middleton - adaptation; Wilbur Morse Jr. - titles
Warner Baxter as Col. John Beetham
Lois Moran as Eve Mannering Durand
Gilbert Emory as Sir Frederick Bruce
Claude King as Sir George Mannering
Philip Strange as Eric Durand
Boris Karloff as Beetham's Manservant
Jamiel Hasson as Sahib Hana
Peter Gawthorne as British Police Inspector
John Rogers as Alf Pornick
Edgar Norton as Hilary Galt
Frank Finch Smiles as Galt's Clerk
Mercedes De Valco as Nuna
E. L. Park as Charlie Chan
Uncredited players: Kathrin Clare Ward as Eve's Landlady
Chan Movie Posters
Charlie Chan DVDs
The Charlie Chan Collection, Volume 1 - For Sale
The Charlie Chan Collection, Volume 2 - For Sale
The Charlie Chan Collection, Volume 3 - For Sale
The Charlie Chan Collection, Volume 4 - For Sale
The Charlie Chan Collection, Volume 5 - For Sale
Charlie Chan Collection, Vol. 1 - 5 - For Sale
Full set of the above 5 DVD sets
TCM Spotlight: Charlie Chan Collection - For Sale
Charlie Chan Collection - For Sale
Charlie Chan 5 Movie Gift Box Set (Limited Series) - For Sale
Charlie Chan 3 Movie Set - For Sale
Charlie Chan: The International Investigator - For Sale
A must-have collection of 18 films starring everyone's favorite cagey, globe-trotting ace detective. Join Charlie Chan in London; in Paris; in Egypt; in Shanghai; at Monte Carlo; at the Opera; at the Race Track; at the Circus; on Broadway; at the Olympics; in Honolulu; in Reno; at Treasure Island; in City in Darkness; and for The Black Camel; Charlie Chan's Secret; Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise; and Murder over New York. Stars Warner Oland and Sydney Toler. CC. In B&W. Over 21 hours on 18 DVDs
The New Adventure of Charlie Chan - Complete TV Series Boxed Set - For Sale
The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (1972) - For Sale
Chinese-American supersleuth Charlie Chan made his cartoon transition with his customary grace, only this time he brought along the clan. Maintaining Hanna-Barbera's winning formula (kids, mysteries, canine, van), the hit kid show also introduced some innovations (the van transforms, a double-sized team, HOWdunnits not whodunits). Most significant among these is the casting of the amazing Keye Luke (Kato, Master Po) as the voice of Charlie Chan. It marked an apropos "graduation" for Mr. Luke, the original "Number One Son" Lee Chan of the classic Warner Oland Chan mysteries. Among those joining Mr. Luke on voice duties are Jodie Foster (Anne Chan), Lennie Weinrib (Stanley Chan) and Don Messick (Chu-Chu) in this complete 16-episode, two-disc collection. The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan - "e pluribus unum" and how!
Charlie Chan and The Curse of the Dragon Queen - For Sale
The inscrutable detective matches his legendary wit against his old nemesis, The Dragon Queen! Follow Chan through the most unlikely of obstacles as he watches over his klutzy grandson and his fiancée rushing to save them from a fate worse than death! Featuring an all star cast
Charlie Chan Books
The original novels by Earl Derr Biggers
The House Without a Key - For Sale
The Chinese Parrot - For Sale
Behind That Curtain - For Sale
The Black Camel - For Sale
Charlie Chan Carries On - For Sale
Keeper of the Keys - For Sale
Charlie Chan: Five Complete Novels by Earl Derr Biggers - For Sale
Charlie Chan-the famous and popular Chinese-Hawaiian police detective-has entertained his audience through several different mediums, from the written word to the movie screen, A number of authors have turned their pens to the character, but, in fact, Charlie Chan appeared originally in just six novels written by Earl Derr Biggers between 1925 and 1932. It is these colourful tales of the original Charlie Chan that comprise the Leonaur collection of three volumes-this volume contains the first two novels. In The House Without a Key we are introduced to Chan, a corpulent father of nine, as he uses all his considerable faculties to solve the mystifying case of a murdered father and a missing jewel box. In The Chinese Parrot, Chan dons a disguise and goes undercover to solve a complex triple intrigue involving a fake identity, a kidnapping and a murder. These wonderful examples of twentieth century detective fiction bring the world of 1920s Hawaii to vibrant life once again-and richly deserve their classic status.
Charlie Chan in The Pawns of Death
"Checkmate!" That was the last word uttered to Charlie Chan and Prefect of Police Claude DeBevre by a dying reporter. The man had been murdered . . . stabbed to death and left to die in a vacant hotel room. It is the second murder in 24 hours at the Transcontinental Chess Tournament, and Charlie Chan has been summoned from a peaceful and long-deserved vacation to help solve the crime before international scandal ruins the tournament's good name! Originally published in Charlie Chan's Mystery Magazine in 1974, this is the first book appearance of The Pawns of Death.
Charlie Chan in The Temple of the Golden Horde
The rarest of scrolls from the days of Ghengis Khan, shadowy villains, and an ancient organization with ties to modern organized crime are just the start. For this case will take Charlie Chan across the Pacific in search of answers . . . and to the edges of the human psyche!
Charlie Chan Color Sunday Comics
Vol. 10 - For Sale
The Charlie Chan Film Encyclopedia by Howard M. Berlin - For Sale
The first film featuring Charlie Chan, The House Without a Key, appeared in 1925. Forty-seven films and six Charlies later, the series still delights audiences. Charlie Chan connoisseurs cite a variety of reasons for the honorable detective's longevity and appeal, ranging from his wit and personality to the films' fascinating casts that often included future celebrities. This encyclopedia contains over 1,900 entries for characters, actors, crew members, plot devices, and facts, as well as film summaries and Charlie's famous aphorisms. Photographs accompany the text and the entries are arranged alphabetically for easy reference and access. Practically anything a fan of these films might want to know is thoroughly analyzed here.
Charlie Chan's Words of Wisdom by Howard M. Berlin - For Sale
A selection of 600 quotes from the Charlie Chan movies, based on the character created by Earl Derr Biggers. Includes a 12-page databank of publicity photos, lobby cards, and other scenes from the movies.
Charlie Chan at the Movies: History, Filmography, and Criticism by Ken Hanke - For Sale
From his primitive nonseries beginnings through the well known Fox series of 44 films (1931-1949), here is the complete history of famous film detective Charlie Chan.
The films are presented in chronological order, with full cast and credits, synopses and evaluations. Biographical details on the three most famous screen Chans-Warner Oland, Sidney Toler, and Roland Winters-and background information on series directors and supporting players, insights into the making of the films, and the full story of the abrupt halt in 1949 as well as an array of the detective's aphorisms (or Chan-o-grams) are included. Numerous photos throughout.
The Charlie Chan Mystery Movie Guide by Luke Freeman - For Sale
Meet Charlie Chan: The inscrutable, irrefutable Chinese-Hawaiian detective featured in 6 books and over 40 films. From country houses in rural England, to secluded castles in the California desert, the seemingly amiable but razor sharp Chan solves murders and uncovers killers the world all over, with the aid, of course, of his Number One and Number Two Sons. Chan may drop his prepositions, but he's never at a loss for words, the philosophical super sleuth also famous for his many wise sayings, such as "kindness in heart better than gold in bank" and "insignificant molehill sometimes more important that conspicuous mountain". An appreciation and celebration of the Charlie Chan films of Twentieth Century-Fox, The Charlie Chan Mystery Movie Guide features: - New, detailed commentary, analysis and review on each of the films. - Character study and detailed exploration of the themes and philosophies prevalent through the series. - Cast lists and plot synopses. and - A new take on the age-old Oland vs. Toler debate.
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by Yunta Huang - For Sale
Hailed as "irrepressibly spirited and entertaining" (Pico Iyer, Time) and "a fascinating cultural survey" (Paul Devlin, Daily Beast), this provocative first biography of Charlie Chan presents American history in a way that it has never been told before. Yunte Huang ingeniously traces Charlie Chan from his real beginnings as a bullwhip-wielding detective in territorial Hawaii to his reinvention as a literary sleuth and Hollywood film icon. Huang finally resurrects the "honorable detective" from the graveyard of detested postmodern symbols and reclaims him as the embodiment of America's rich cultural diversity. The result is one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year and a "deeply personal . . . voyage into racial stereotyping and the humanizing force of story telling" (Donna Seaman, Los Angeles Times). 35 black-and-white illustrations
The Case Files of the Oriental Sleuths: Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto & Mr. Wong by David Rothel - For Sale
During the golden age of magazine fiction, motion pictures, and radio-roughly the 1920s through the late 1940s-three Oriental crime fighters were introduced to the American public. Through the media which they inhabited they became fictional icons in American popular culture: Honolulu Police Inspector Charlie Chan, International Secret Agent Mr. I. A. Moto, and Justice Department Agent Mr. James Lee Wong-commonly known as the Oriental Sleuths. Created by respected authors Earl Derr Biggers, Pulitzer Prize-winner John P. Marquand, and Hugh Wiley, the three sleuths' adventures first appeared in popular magazines and then were quickly snapped up by Hollywood to sate the appetites of film-goers for detective thrillers on the silver screen. Charlie Chan carried his case loads over into radio, television, newspaper comic strips, comic books, Better Little Books, and games. Mr. Moto followed with radio adventures and a graphic novel, and Mr. Wong added comic book exploits to his résumé. Now author David Rothel brings all three Oriental sleuths together for the first time in one volume as he examines their origins and covers their development in all the media forms they encompassed through the years.
Mystery of the Arizona Dragon by Darryle Purcell - For Sale
When PR man Curly Woods and cowboy Hoot Gibson arrive at an Arizona dude ranch they find themselves up against a supervillain with a deadly weapon. Sent by the studio to teach Warner Oland, Keye Luke, and the rest of the cast of the new movie, "Charlie Chan Goes West," how to ride, Woods and Gibson find themselves in the midst of a situation that make's the film's plot sound like a kiddie story. Who is the mysterious "Dragon" and why is he killing horses, ranchhands, and plotting a mass slaughter of miners? And, most of all, why is he so determined to end our heroes' lives by any means necessary? Suspects include the film's stars, Oland and Luke, its German immigrant director, a cowboy actor who can't ride, a blonde getting her first big break outside of comedy shorts, the ranch's beautiful but mysterious redheaded owner, and a bevy of Hollywood hopefuls. Dust Bowl refugees, Arizona ranch hands, aerial battles, shootouts, underground traps and living creatures gathered and released as weapons, spice up the action.. Plus bonus novelette: 'Mystery of the Stuntman's Ghost", when the Hollywood Cowboy Detectives meet William Boyd on the set of a troubled production of a Hopalong Cassidy movie.