Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese-Hawaiian detective created by Earl Derr Biggers.
He is the hero of a number of books and dozens of movies.
At first a sergeant (but later promoted) in the Honolulu Police Department, he and his wife have eleven children and live in a house on Punchbowl Hill. He is a large man but moves gracefully.
Charlie Chan appeared in six novels by Earl Derr Biggers:
- House Without a Key (1925)
- The Chinese Parrot (1926)
- Behind the Curtain (1928)
- The Black Camel (1929)
- Charlie Chan Carries On (1930)
- Keeper of the Keys (1932)
The first three novels were each adapted to film during the 1920s, by different studios, but the best-known Charlie Chan movies are those of the long-running series that began in 1931 with Charlie Chan Carries On
, starring Warner Oland. Oland starred in a further fifteen movies; the mantle then passed to Sidney Toler, who starred in eleven Charlie Chan movies before the series was halted by America's entry into World War II
The series was revived by Monogram in 1944, with another eleven movies starring Toler and then five starring Roland Winters. The Monogram films are generally considered to be of poorer quality than the films of the 1930s.
The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, an animated series made in the 1970s by Hanna-Barbera Productions, was note-worthy only because it was the only occasion on which Charlie Chan has been played by an actor of Chinese descent: Keye Luke, who had earlier appeared in the 1930s movies as Charlie Chan's eldest son. (Two Charlie Chan films made in the 1920s had starred Japanese actors.)