Historical records matching Cliff Arquette
About Cliff Arquette
Actor and comedian Cliff Arquette rose to fame playing the character "Charley Weaver." For his contribution to radio, Arquette was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6720 Hollywood Blvd.
Born Clifford Charles Arquette in Toledo, Ohio to Augustus Arquette, a vaudevillian, he was the patriarch of the Arquette show business family. Arquette was the father of the late actor Lewis Arquette and the grandfather of actors Patricia, Rosanna, Alexis (originally Robert), Richmond, and David Arquette. He was a night club pianist, later joining the Henry Halstead orchestra in 1923.
Arquette had been a busy, yet not nationally known, performer in radio, theatre, and motion pictures until 1956, when he retired from show business. At one time, he was credited with performing in 13 different daily radio shows at different stations in the Chicago market, getting from one studio to the other by way of motorboats along the Chicago River through its downtown.
The story that Arquette later told about his big break was that one night in the late 1950s he was watching The Tonight Show. Host Jack Paar happened to ask the rhetorical question, "Whatever became of Cliff Arquette?" That startled Arquette so much that, "I almost dropped my Scotch!"
In 1959, Arquette accepted Paar's invitation to perform on Paar's NBC Tonight Show. Arquette depicted the character of "Charley Weaver, the wild old man from Mount Idy." He would bring along, and read, a letter from his "Mamma" back home. This characterization proved so popular that Arquette almost never again appeared in public as himself, but nearly always as "Charley Weaver", complete with his squashed hat, little round glasses, rumpled shirt, broad tie, baggy pants, and suspenders.
Although a good number of Arquette's jokes appear 'dated' now (and, arguably, even back then), he could still often convulse Paar and the audience into helpless laughter by way of his timing and use of double meanings in describing the misadventures of his fictional family and townspeople. As Paar noted, in his foreword to Arquette's first "Charley Weaver" book:
"Sometimes his jokes are old, and I live in the constant fear that the audience will beat him to the punch line, but they never have. And I suspect that if they ever do, he will rewrite the ending on the spot. I would not like to say that all his jokes are old, although some have been found carved in stone. What I want to say is that in a free-for-all ad lib session, Charley Weaver has and will beat the fastest gun alive."
Arquette, as Charley Weaver, hosted Charley Weaver's Hobby Lobby on ABC from September 30, 1959 to March 23, 1960. He also appeared as Charley Weaver on the short-lived The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show on ABC from September 29 to December 29, 1962.
Arquette was also a frequent guest on The Jack Paar Show after Paar left The Tonight Show.
Arquette spent some time in the hospital in the early 1970s, due to heart disease. He suffered a stroke in 1973 that kept him off the Hollywood Squares program for some time. Among those who occupied his square during his absence was George Gobel, whose appearances on the show became more frequent after Arquette's death, later replacing Arquette in the lower left square. Partially paralyzed by the stroke and requiring the use of a wheelchair, Arquette eventually returned to Squares looking gaunt, but with mind and comedic spirit still intact.
Arquette died of another stroke on Monday, September 23, 1974.