Biography of Vernon Dent (February 16, 1895 – November 5, 1963)
Vernon Bruce Dent (1895 – 1963) was a comic actor. He co-starred in many short films for Columbia Pictures. We remember him today for his frequent appearances in the Three Stooges short films as antagonist to the Stooges.
Vernon Dent was born on February 16, 1895 in San José, California, U.S.A. He was educated in San José and Oakland, California. By 1919, Hank Mann of the Keystone Kops “discovered” him and recruited him for 1-reel comedy short films for Arrow. By this time he was already touring southern California as part of a singing troupe. He was also an accomplished song writer.
Then in 1921, Vernon Dent was making one reel “Folly Comedies” for the independent Pacific Film Company. By 1923, Vernon Dent was hired by Mack Sennett, and made numerous short films with comedy film star Harry Langdon. The two performed so well together that, when Langdon began making short films for Educational Pictures, he hired Dent and gave him second billing. In 1935, he began his longest career with a film company when he signed with Columbia Pictures short film department. There, he began making comedies with the Three Stooges.
Working at Columbia Pictures
After joining Columbia Pictures’ short-subject department, Vernon Dent went on to work with practically every star on the payroll. These include fellow Sennett alumni Harry Langdon, Andy Clyde, Charley Chase, and Eddie Quillan; The Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, El Brendel, Vera Vague, Hugh Herbert, Schilling and Lane, Harry von Zell, and Bert Wheeler. Vernon Dent appeared very occasionally in feature films. Some examples include:
- Million Dollar Legs
- Chip Off the Old Block
- Kill the Umpire.
But Vernon was much more visible in two-reel comedies.
In addition to a long list of appearances in Three Stooges short films, he also began a lifelong friendship with Shemp Howard. When Shemp finally died, Emil Sitka accompanied Vernon to the funeral parlor to pay his respects to his friend, Shemp. Emil needed to accompany Vernon Dent since, by that time, Vernon was blind. This was a complication from the diabetes that Vernon suffered from. Even after losing his sight in the early 1950’s, Vernon Dent continued to appear in Three Stooges short films through 1954. He performed in a stationary or seated position. He participated in the nationally televised This Is Your Life tribute to Mack Sennett.
Vernon Dent died of complications from diabetes. on November 5, 1963 in Hollywood, California, U.S.A.. According to his wife, Eunice, he died of a heart attack. He is interred at Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA.