“I was born at La Crosse, Wisconsin, but moved early to Texas, where dad was engaged in the cattle business. After his death I found it necessary to get out and hustle. I didi – hustled right onto the stage, at the advice of James O’Neill, a graduate of my alma mater, Notre Dame College, at South Bend, Indiana. I went first with George Whittier, by dint of much persuasion and sundry promises that were almost threats, to make good. This was a repertory show. I then made up my mind for musical comedy, but my start in this profession was by no means prepossessing. I acted, did a song and dance, was property man and even helped load the cars, but it didn’t hurt me, and it taught me a lot. I was with a circus for a time, billed as ‘Keno, the Boy Clown,’ and then when I left the circus I acted and played professional baseball. I played ball seven summers with Gulfort, Mississippi; Mobile; MeKeesport, Pennsylvania; Saginaw; Toledo, and two seasons with Duluth. And then I drew pictures (remember the ‘Sterling Kids’? I’m the originator and artist of those) for the Chicago American.” — Ford Sterling
“Oh, then I played stock and also in vaudeville, and in fact, it was while doing a vaudeville act with Tom McEvoy, called ‘Breaking Into Society,’ that I got into the picture game. ‘Pathe’ Lehrman saw me, told me he was convinced I’d make good in pictures, and then followed an engagement with Mack Sennett, of Biograph then, who had been looking around for some time for a comedian. Then, as you know, I went to Keystone, in the same bunch with Mabel Normand, ‘Pathe’ Lehrman, Fred Mace and Mack Sennett.” — Ford Sterling
Photo: In the Clutches of the Gang (1914). With Edgar Kennedy (behind Sterling), Robert Cox, Al St. John(center) and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (right).
“I don’t have to tell you or your prospective readers of my work in Keystone, for I prefer to leave to them the question of whether or not it was successful. I am now with my own company and have great plans for the future, which we hope will appeal to our friends, the audience.” — Ford Sterling
With Lon Chaney in a behind-the-scenes photo for He Who Gets Slapped (1924)