It's a rare treat to be able to share a photo from a 1930s film featuring an actor who is still with us today. Charles Lane turned 102 on Friday, and has had a long and varied film and television career. He has 328 appearances credited in IMDb, from 1931 to 1995, so you've surely seen him somewhere. The above photo is from You Can't Take It with You, the 1938 adaptation of the Kaufman and Hart play directed by Frank Capra. That's Lionel Barrymore on the left as the grandfather of the large and eccentric family featured in the 1938 film, and Lane on the right as an IRS agent trying to explain that, yes, everyone has to pay taxes, even colorful eccentrics. Barrymore and Lane would appear together again in a later Capra film, It's a Wonderful Life, in which Lane was one of the rent collectors for Barrymore's nasty Mr. Potter.
Lane made a career out of playing hotel clerks, petty bureaucrats, and as he grew older, judges and doctors. The first movie in which I've seen him is from 1933, the delightful Twentieth Century, in which he's a stage manager who can only tolerate so much of the theater's producer, played by John Barrymore. He's then credited under his birth name, Charles Levison. Eventually Lane and Barrymore wage war in trying to land Carole Lombard's character as their leading lady. You might have seen Lane in minor roles in films such as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Ball of Fire, Arsenic and Old Lace or The Music Man.
Television provided still more opportunities for him -- he played various bureaucratic foils to Lucille Ball on several episodes of I Love Lucy and later The Lucy Show. He's in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, voices a lawyer in Disney's The Aristocats, and has a small role in Murphy's Romance. You should check out his filmography and see the number of appearances on significant TV shows that I haven't room to mention. Lane's most recent role was in the made-for-TV remake of The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, playing a university regent.
A documentary is currently being made about Lane's career, You Know the Face, directed by Garret A. Boyajian. It'll be another chance to see the actor onscreen -- this time as himself, instead of a clerk or customs agent or fussy lawyer. Although Lane's been in hundreds of movies and television shows, I couldn't find any photos of his appearances online -- only a headshot here and there. Many thanks to Boyajian for sending the above photo.