Charles Stevens

 

By Danny Haralson

Contributing Writer

Yes, we had a movie star born right here in Graham County. He was in almost 200 movies beginning with “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 and ending with "The Outsiders” in 1961 with Tony Curtis. Who was this prolific actor? It was Charles “Charlie” Stevens, the son of our first elected sheriff George H. “Shorty” Stevens.

Charlie was born in Solomonville on May 26, 1893, as Carlos Stevens and died in Hollywood on Aug. 22, 1964. He lies in an unmarked grave in Hollywood.

To read Charlie’s biographies online reveals that the young want-to-be actor created a much more interesting history for himself than was actually true. Every bio found on him says that he was Geronimo’s grandson. After his debut in "Birth of a Nation," Charlie went on to play many American, Mexican and Japanese bit parts.

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An online article about "My Darling Clementine," for which Stevens played a character named Indian Charlie, claims he is a grandson of Geronimo.

Now the truth is that Charlie’s father, George H. Stevens, was married to an Indian woman first-named Francesca. She was the daughter of an Apache White Mountain Indian chieftain, but she died before Charlie was born, and George H. Stevens remarried to Eloisa Michelana. She was the daughter of Trinidad Michalena and sister to noted Solomonville resident Pedro Michalena. I am sure Charlie was not the first actor to enhance his resume, but the truth should be known.

I wonder if Charlie’s close friends and fellow actors knew the truth about him, or did he live his whole life as Geronimo’s grandson? Charlie appeared in a movie with Douglas Fairbanks and, thereafter, was in all of Fairbanks' movies. He always played Indian or Mexican roles and was usually the villain.

Charlie had two older half-siblings and one older full brother named Alberto. He was married to Lila Berry in 1919 and had one son, Douglas, who was born in 1920 and named after his friend, Douglas Fairbanks.

So we have our own homegrown actor and, despite short-time residents Jack Elam and Nick Nolte, Charlie Stevens belongs to us.

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