A stage veteran since the 1910s, Watson entered films in the early 30s and over the next 25 years racked up 100 credits, most typically cast in character roles as lawyers, judges and military men, or kindly fathers and small-town locals.
A man of average looks and a deep, attractive voice, Watson was born in Arkansas, which gave a slight but pleasant drawl to many of his rustic characterizations in Westerns and melodramas. His earliest film credits include the tense "24 Hours" (1931) and he was quite memorable as the married but straying Lady Grayston's (Constance Bennett) wealthy, gentle provider in the sophisticated drawing room comedy "Our Betters" (1933). Until he retired in 1956, the prolific Watson free-lanced and was kept busy at every studio in Hollywood. He worked most often for MGM (e.g., as the bishop in the overly reverential "Boys Town" 1938), Paramount (e.g., as a high ranking military man in the zippy musical "Here Come the Waves" 1944) and 20th Century-Fox (e.g., as a judge in the whimsical comedy "Mr. 880" 1950). His credits, though, span major studios like RKO and Warner Brothers and minors like Republic and Allied Artists.
Although many of his roles were also minor, Watson, sometimes mustachioed, invariably brought a dignified gravity to them. His Westerns include "Rose of the Rancho" (1936), "Western Union" (1941) and, one of his last credits, "The Rawhide Years" (1956). He could also be spotted in crime dramas like "Dead End" (1937), musicals including "Moon Over Miami" (1941) and films noir such as "The File on Thelma Jordan" (1949, as another judge). For many buffs, one of Watson's most memorable roles was in the camp classic "Beyond the Forest" (1949), in which his yokel Moose keeps annoying the restless, lusty Rosa Moline (Bette Davis) with the line, "You're something for the birds, Rosa!"--that is, until she shoots him.
Cast (Feature Film)
Earliest film work includes "24 Hours"
Last films, "The Ambassador's Daughter", "The Rawhide Years" and "Trapeze"
Retired to Alton, IL (date approximate)