Arthur Lake (born Arthur Silverlake Jr., April 17, 1905 – January 9, 1987) was an American actor known best for bringing Dagwood Bumstead, the bumbling husband of Blondie, to life in film, radio and television.
Lake was born in 1905, when his father and uncle were touring with a circus in an aerial act known as "The Flying Silverlakes". His mother, Edith Goodwin, was an actress. His parents later appeared in vaudeville in a skit "Family Affair", traveling throughout the South and Southwest United States. Arthur first appeared on stage as a baby in Uncle Tom's Cabin and he and his sister, Florence, became part of the act in 1910. Their mother brought the children to Hollywood to get into films, and Arthur made his screen debut in the silent Jack and the Beanstalk (1917). Florence became a successful actress, achieving a degree of fame as one of the screen wives of comedian Edgar Kennedy.
Universal Pictures signed him to a contract, where he acted in westerns as an adolescent character actor. Shortly after the formation of RKO Pictures in 1928, he signed with that studio, where he made Dance Hall (1929) and Cheer Up and Smile (1930). During this early sound film era, he typically played light romantic roles, usually with a comic "Mama's Boy" tone to them, in films such as Indiscreet (1931), which starred Gloria Swanson. He also had a substantial part as the bellhop in the 1937 film Topper.
Arthur Lake is best known for portraying the Blondie comic strip character of Dagwood Bumstead in twenty-eight Blondie films produced by Columbia Pictures from 1938 to 1950. He was also the voice of Dagwood on the radio series, which ran from 1938 to 1950, earning him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6646 Hollywood Blvd. Many of the actors on the radio show noted Lake's commitment to the program, stating that on the day of the broadcast, Lake was Dagwood Bumstead.
Far from being upset about being typecast, Lake continued to embrace the role of Dagwood in a short-lived 1957 Blondie TV series, then even into the 1960s and beyond; he would often give speeches to Rotary clubs and other civic organizations, eagerly posing for pictures with a Dagwood sandwich.
Lake became very friendly with newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and his mistress Marion Davies. He was a frequent guest at the beach house of Davies, where he met Patricia Lake (née Van Cleeve). They were married at San Simeon in 1937.
The parentage of Patricia Van Cleeve is unclear, but at the time of her death, she is reported to have claimed to be the daughter of Davies and Hearst.
In his book about the Black Dahlia murder case, author Donald H. Wolfe asserts that Lake was questioned by the Los Angeles Police Department as a suspect, having been acquainted with the victim through her volunteer work at the Hollywood Canteen. No charges were filed and Lake was one of many suspects in a case that remains unsolved.
Lake died of a heart attack in Indian Wells, California, on January 9, 1987, and was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in the Douras family mausoleum, along with actress Marion Davies and her husband, Horace G. Brown. Lake's widow Patricia was interred there upon her death in 1993.