Theodore Roberts was a character actor known as the Grand Old Man of motion pictures, according to Times reports at the time of his death.
Roberts was said to have been the only person connected with the motion picture industry who was under contract for life. He became identified with films in 1914, when he left the legitimate stage for the new field and immediately leaped into prominence.
The veteran actor was born in San Francisco in 1861 and after finishing his education became an instructor in one of the city's schools. While teaching, he was given an opportunity to substitute for an actor in an itinerant theatrical company, and that led to a permanent job.
His first engagement was with James O'Neil's company playing "Cardinal Richelieu." Then followed the role of Svengall in "Trilby," a success in "The Squaw Man," an outstanding performance as Simon Legree in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and his greatest stage success in the role of Joe Portugals in "The Right of Way." He also accepted a vaudeville offer and played for several years in a short sketch.
Among his many successes in pictures were the productions of "Old Wives for New," "Male and Female," "Everywoman," "The Affairs of Anatole," "Miss Lulu Bett," "The Old Homestead" and the greatest of all, "The Ten Commandments," in which he portrayed Moses. He appeared in a great many other picture plays as well.
At a time when he was one of the most popular men of the stage, Roberts became acquainted with Cecil B. De Mille while the latter was connected with Lasky, which later became Paramount. On De Mille's persuasion Roberts succumbed to the lure of the silver screen and under De Mille's direction made his first appearance.
He appeared in over 100 films over the course of his career.