Eddie LeVeque; Last of Early Keystone Kops
Edward (Eddie) LeVeque, probably the youngest and believed to be the last of the original, comically chaotic band of constabularies known as the Keystone Kops, has died in Los Angeles.
LeVeque was 92 when he died Saturday.
Born in Mexico to a French-American father and a Mexican mother, his interest in movies dated to the Mexican Revolution when he began hanging around an American film company in Juarez that was recording that civil struggle. He became their interpreter.
His son, Gilbert LeVeque, said Monday that his father first came to Hollywood in 1914 and was cast by D. W. Griffith in “Intolerance.”
He next moved to the Keystone production company founded by Charles O. Bauman and Adam Kessel. There, director Mack Sennett was conducting Mabel Norman, Fred Mace, Ford Sterling and other silent stars of the day through the dizzying slapstick that became the Keystone signature.
The Keystone Kops became a favorite of the Sennett comedies. They were usually featured in a series of misadventures that involved split-second sight gags and the inevitable chase scene.
LeVeque, his son said, was proudest that he was with the original group at the Keystone studio. In 1915, Keystone was absorbed by the Triangle film company. That was one year after a young English comic named Charlie Chaplin had come into the company. In 1917--the same year LeVeque quit the studio to fight in World War I--Sennett became an independent producer.
Sennett then formed a second group of Keystone Kops that continued to perform into the 1920s. But LeVeque is believed to have been the last of the formative group.
After the war, LeVeque returned to Hollywood and appeared in such epic silents as “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” with Rudolph Valentino and “The Black Pirate” with Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
Later he worked as a disc jockey on a Spanish language radio station and continued to do small parts in films, often cast as the kindly priest.
In addition to his son, he is survived by two daughters and six grandchildren.