Rotund, moon-faced character actor Charles Watts made a mini-career out of portraying glad-handing politicians, voluble businessmen and salesmen, crafty bankers, and cheerful or cynical parents, uncles, family friends, and other supporting players. He never had a starring role, or even a co-starring role, in a motion picture, but his physical presence and voice made for some memorable moments. Born in Clarksville, TN, in 1912, Watts was a high-school teacher -- handling both business law and drama -- for a time during his mid-twenties, working in Chattanooga. He worked in local theater and tent shows early in his career, and after World War II was also in demand for industrial shows.
Watts didn't start doing movie or television appearances until 1950, and in that first year he played small, uncredited roles in such serious dramas as The Killer That Stalked New York (1950), as a mailman, and Storm Warning (1951), as a lunch-counter proprietor -- and somewhat larger parts, as a sheriff, in three episodes of The Lone Ranger. Over the next 16 years, he was seen in nearly 100 movies and television shows. His most prominent big-screen role was that of Judge (and later United States Senator) Oliver Whiteside in George Stevens' Giant (1956), where his rich, melodious voice and cheerful demeanor were put to extensive use. Watts was also an uncredited man in the crowd in Stuart Heisler's I Died a Thousand Times, a police sergeant in Philip Dunne's The View From Pompey's Head (both 1955), and Mr. Schultz, the salesman from the suspender company, in Billy Wilder's The Spirit of St. Louis (1957). Watts even found his way into two big-scale musicals -- Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) and Jumbo (1962) -- a decade apart. When he had a role with dialogue of any length, he was often used -- or so it seemed -- for his tendency to speechify, and to make even ordinary words stand out in relief.
As active on television as he was in movies, Watts was familiar to several generations of young viewers for his role as Bill Green, the skeptical anti-superstition league leader in the Adventures of Superman episode "The Lucky Cat" (1955). He also played a small but key role in the Father Knows Best episode "24 Hours in Tyrantland," done on behalf of the Treasury Department to sell U.S. Savings Bonds, as the Andersons' skeptical neighbor, whose brief, cynical talk to son Bud finally pushes Jim Anderson (Robert Young) to straighten his kids out about the importance of savings bonds. Watts remained busy into the mid-'60s, and died of cancer in 1966. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi