Perhaps it was his role in the Westfield High School Senior Class Play of 1926 that launched Carleton Young on his career in drama. He played the part of William Sylvanus Baxter in Booth Tarkington’s “Seventeen” and found that he liked the spot behind the footlights.
The play was presented at the Grand Theatre Thursday and Friday evenings, March 25 and 26, 1926. The house was crowded of course. The senior play was a very big event at that time. Leonard Tripp played the part of William Baxter on Thursday evening and Carleton “Cam” Young on Friday. Both young men played the part exceedingly well.
After graduation from Westfield High School in June of that year Carleton studied at Carnegie Tech for his lifetime career on the stage and in radio.
Drama became his field, on the Broadway Stage, in numerous film parts in Hollywood (including a leading role with Esther Williams). For many years Cam was the radio voice of Ellery Queen and The Count of Monte Cristo.
Mr. Young went directly from dramatic training at Carnegie Tech to success on Broadway. His last dramatic hit was Brock Pemberton, “Cuckoos on the Hearth,” which won him a contract with 20th Century Fox Pictures.
Will anyone admit to being old enough to have enjoyed the many serials on radio? Westfield’s Carleton Young played important roles on many of the old favorites. Remember “Our Gal Sunday,” “Lorenzo Jones,” and “Just Plain Bill?” Cam played in these and many others. They may sound “corny” but the plots were easy to follow and we could listen while doing the housework unlike sitting down to watch the “soaps.”
Carleton was the only child of William T. and Carrie Young who were well-known folks in the Westfield area. William was for many years a harness maker whose shop was located on the east side of Market Street. When I was a child, I believe Mr. Gunn, the shoemaker, did his repair work in the south side of the harness shop. Later Mr. Calabrese repaired shoes in that spot.
Carleton’s mother at the time of her death in 1967 had been a member of the Westfield Presbyterian Church for over 60 years. She was one of the organizers of the local Senior Citizens’ Club which is still going strong, meeting monthly at the YWCA. Carrie Young was a Charter Member of the Westfield Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and had been a very active member of the Monday Club, the ladies’ Literary Club, which the women of Westfield (attired in hats and gloves) attended to improve their minds and incidentally enjoy a cup of tea. I remember Carrie Young as a stylish and proud lady. And number one on her list of things to be proud of was her son Carleton Young, the actor.
Carleton died July 11, 1971, in Los Angeles at the age of 64. He was survived by a wife and three children. At that time, one son, Tony, was following in his father’s footsteps and pursuing a career in acting.
Photo courtesy of the Patterson Library
The future held a career as a well-known radio and movie personalilty for this Westfield boy. Here the very young Carleton Young poses for local photographer William Sherman.