Back to prior page            Go to next page


On the trail
of 'Slim' Whitaker

(Leota Whitaker Gandrau Collection)

Above is a very young Charles 'Slim' Whitaker, 1920s photo.



(Leota Whitaker Gandrau Collection)

Above is a 1930s photo of Ethel and Slim at the front porch of their Hatteras Street home in North Hollywood, California. Their neighbor was Billy Barty.
Was Slim a cook at Jerry's Cafe ?

There's two bits of controversy and both relate to information on Slim Whitaker's death certificate. The death certificate notes he was "a cook at Jerry's Cafe". Secondly, the death certificate shows the spelling of his middle name as "Orbie".

Tom Bahn's writeup on Slim went online in the Summer of 2001. Since then, he has done some further checking with family members and they recall that Ethel's restaurant was initially named "Larry's" (as Ethel married Larry a few years after she and Slim divorced). Larry later re-named the restaurant "Tiny's" (Tiny was Ethel's nickname because she was 4' 10" tall). After he retired, Slim used to hang out at the restaurant which was located in Sunland, California at the corner of San Fernando Road and Sunland Blvd. Years ago Debbie and Rose drove by the location and the restaurant had become a bar.

The 1930 census has Slim and wife Ethel working as Manager and Waitress at a restaurant. Tom suggested that may have been necessary to supplement their income as Slim's movie workload in 1930 amounted to only eight films.

Tom was unable to find any one who recalled Slim working as a restaurant cook. Confirmations on this came from several family members including Slim's grandson Chuck Whitaker who said that his grandfather never worked as a short order cook. He remembers that after his grandfather retired, he worked as a bartender at a cowboy bar in Sunland and later as a guard or a fireman. He remembered the bar because it had hitchin' posts out front. He also remembers that Slim would visit Larry's Cafe for a meal or just to drink coffee and chat with his ex-wife. According to Chuck, his grandfather was completely retired prior to his death.

Leota (Slim's daughter) also recalled that her father was either a guard or a fireman in later life.

The "informant" on the death certificate information is listed as Slim's daughter June, who at the time of her father's death, was having some difficulties, including the end of her fourth marriage. She may have been confused or mistaken when asked for info on her father.


Middle name of Orbie or Orby ?

As noted above, there's been a bit of controversy over Whitaker's middle name being "Orbie" or "Orby". The World War I and World War II draft registrations for Slim have his middle name as 'Orbie' and he also signs the registrations as Charles Orbie Whitaker.





(Leota Whitaker Gandrau Collection)

No date or info on this photo which shows Slim third from the left. That certainly looks like a fire engine ladder truck in the background and none are wearing gunbelts and carrying sidearms. Closeup of Slim's face shown below. Tom Bahn writes: "At the time he may have been working for the studios as a guard or fireman. Based on the family movies I've seen, I'm going to guess that this was taken two or three years before he died."

Webmaster's note: I took the above photo and showed it to our local Fire Chief and asked him about the badge/emblem on the hats. His response was immediate - is the "Iron Cross" which has been used for years by Fire Departments everywhere.




'Slim' Whitaker's movie stats. A very busy guy.
Slim's movie work from silents - 1949 in westerns, serials, shorts, and other films. No TV roles for Slim. His busiest years were the 1930s and are highlighted in red. I've used the RELEASE dates (not filming dates) from the Internet Movie Database so the results may be a little skewed. Total film count in this chart = 361.
10
16
16
8
9
7
8
23
23
20
19
38
29
26
18
18
12
15
13
14
8
1
2
5
2
1
1913-
1924
1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949



  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Slim Whitaker: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0924307/

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Index, and death certificate provide more on 'Slim' Whitaker and family. I've also highlighted the middle name of "Orbie" in this color.

Jim Tipton's Find-A-Grave website has info on the final resting place for Slim Whitaker at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5823509


(Courtesy of Debbie and Tom Bahn)

Slim is interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California.



Back to prior page            Go to next page