Chesterfield NH Historical Society
Chesterfield NH Historical Society

Charles Tazewell

June 2, 1900 - June 26, 1972

Born in Des Moines IA, Charles "Tazz" Tazewell chose to call Chesterfield home. He is best known as a radio playwright, TV scriptwriter, and a children’s book author whose work has been adapted in multiple of mediums. 

 

In 1939, he wrote his best known piece, “The Littlest Angel” in three days.  It is a heartwarming tale about a little boy’s adjustment to being an angel in heaven and his determination to give a special gift to the Christ Child.  The New York Times Book Review said of the title character:  “As he appears here, for the first time in book form, only the crustiest unbeliever could resist him.  Very young, very unsuited to celestial ways, he was something of a problem angel.”

 

Tazewell wrote this piece as an unproduced radio script and in 1945 he published it in book form.   It was an instant success and became a Christmas classic.  Soon after it was published, it was read by Helen Hayse on the radio at Christmas.  By the time of his death in 1972, the “Littlest Angel” was in its 38th printing and had been translated into many languages.  It was first published by Coronet Magazine and then appeared on records, one narrated by Loretta Young in 1950.  At the same time, a semi-animated version of the story was produced by Coronet Films and widely distributed in 16mm for church and school viewings.  In 1969 it was made into a musical TV drama for Hallmark Hall of Fame. 

 

He also wrote “The Small One”, a tale about a little donkey who was destined to the tanner but because of the love of a small boy, ended up carrying Mary to Bethlehem.  This was adapted by Walt Disney Company in 1978 into an animated short.  His “The Littlest Snowman” won the Thomas A. Edison Prize for best children’s story of 1956.  Also, it was adapted as a film, and a shorter version was read on the TV show “Captain Kangaroo”.

 

Charles Tazewell began his career as an actor.  He acted professionally while still in high school.  He appeared on Broadway in “They Knew What They Wanted” (1924), “Lucky Sam McCarver” (1925) and in the musical “Sugar Hill” (1931).  Versatile, he easily went from stage to radio.  In 1934, he appeared with Dick Powell in the first coast-to-coast show ever produced.  Also, as a CBS script writer, he wrote for then popular weekly series, “Hollywood Hotel”, and for seven years wrote the script for “Mayor of the Town”.

 

He married Louise Skinner, a professional singer and actress in 1929.  During the Depression when theater jobs were scare, they worked together in a carnival.  In the late 1940s, the couple started coming east each summer to be near Louise’s mother. Over the course of their long marriage, they traveled 36 times across the country, an exceptional feat.  During one of these trips, the couple discovered Chesterfield and decided to move here permanently. 

 

The couple spearheaded the “Brattleboro Little Theater” and operated it for 18 years.  During its run of over 60 shows, Charles was producer while Louise directed.  Of course, Charles did take part in some memorable roles which included “Harvey” and the dramatic undertaking of Capt. Quegg in “The Andersonville Trial”. 

 

After Charles unexpected death, in 1972 at the age of 72, Louise continued to call Chesterfield her home.  Like her husband she was a dedicated thespian.  In 1991 she received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Friends of the Somerville (MA) Theater, a group trying to keep a small playhouse alive.  At the time, she donated her papers and memorabilia to the theater.  Louise died in 1993 at the age of 93.  They are both buried in the family plot at Lindenwood Cemetery in Stoneham, MA

 

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