aka Charley Weaver
American humorist and tv personality
Cliff Arquette was born in Toledo, Ohio on December 28, 1905.
He was a pianist, composer and songwriter along with his talents as a comedian and actor. Cliff was a pianist in nightclubs before joining the Henry Halstead Orchestra in 1923. He became a member of ASCAP in 1959. Cliff's main musical collaborator was Charles 'Bud' Dant. Cliff appeared in a number of early radio programs including Fibber McGee and Molly, Point Sublime (along with Mel Blanc), and Lum and Abner. He enjoyed a busy career in theatre, films, and radio, yet hadn't become nationally famous. He retired from performing in 1956.
Back into the fray
He was apparently enjoying his retirement when he was watching The Tonight Show, hosted at that time by Jack Parr. He was shocked to hear Parr ask offhandedly "Whatever became of Cliff Arquette?" Arquette was invited to perform on The Tonight Show , where he depicted the character 'Charley Weaver', the wild old man from Mount Idy. The character was such a hit that from that point forward Cliff rarely appeared in public as himself, but rather as Charley Weaver.
Charley Weaver was rather a grandfatherly figure, wearing a squashed hat, baggy pants with suspenders, little round glasses, rumpled shirt and tie. His act usually included reading a 'letter from Momma', received from back home in the town of Mount Idy. The town is thought to be based on Mount Ida, Arkansas. Cliff's mother had received letters from a friend in Mount Ida which she would read to the entire family. Charley Weaver's interpretation of 'letters from Momma' included details concerning a host of hometown characters. His specialty was delivering one liners which may have been dated and corny, but were still amusing.
Charlie Weaver continued to appear on The Tonight Show after Jack Parr's retirement and into the Johnny Carson era. He compiled books of these 'letters' and also issued a comedy album based on the same character for Columbia Records. An exception to his apprearances as Charley Weaver was his depiction of 'Mrs. Butterworth' of pancake syrup fame. While still sporting his full mustache he dressed as the advertising icon and adopted a falsetto voice to speak as the character. He also appeared as General Sam Courage, for whom Fort Courage was named on the TV comedy series F Troop.
Charley Weaver became a regular member of the panel on the original Hollywood Squares game show which debutted in October 1966. He occupied the lower left square, a spot that ensured his frequent ad libs. His run was interrupted for 9 months in 1973 due to a stroke, but he was able to return and continue until his death on September 23, 1974. Cliff Arquette died in Burbank, California of a massive heart attack. He was cremated and the disposition of his ashes are undisclosed. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Leader of the pack
Cliff Arquette was the father of actor Lewis Arquette, and the grandfather of Patricia Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Richmond Arquette, Alexis ( born Robert) Arquette and David Arquette. Cliff was also the grandfather-in-law of Courtney Cox, as well as the great- grandfather of Coco Cox Arquette.
Civil War buff
Cliff Arquette was a Civil War enthusiast and opened a Civil War museum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1959. The Charley Weaver Museum of the Civil War was located in the actual headquarters of General O. O. Howard during the Battle of Gettysburg, and operated for about 10 years. The facility was to become the Soldier's National Museum.
- Drama at Eight (1953)
- The RCA Victor Show (1951-1954-anthology)
- Do It Yourself (1955)
- Hobby Lobby (1959)
- The Jack Parr Show (1957-1962)
- The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show (1962)
- The Jonathan Winters Show (1967-1969)
- Hollywood Squares (1968-1974)