Monty Banks

Montague (Monty) Banks (15 July 1897 [registered on 18 July 1897] 7 January 1950[1] born Mario Bianchi) was an Italian comedian and film actor, director who achieved success in the United Kingdom and in the US.

Monty Banks
Mario Bianchi

(1897-07-18)18 July 1897
Died7 January 1950(1950-01-07) (aged 52)
OccupationDirector, comedian


Banks was born Mario Bianchi in Cesena, Italy. In 1914, Bianchi emigrated to the United States. By 1918, he was an actor in Hollywood with the Arbuckle Company, performing in over 35 silent short comedies by the early 1920s,[2] and then, in such feature-length action comedy-thrillers as Play Safe (1927). A large excerpt from this movie is included in Robert Youngson's compilation film Days of Thrills and Laughter (1961).

With the arrival of sound films, Banks's strong Italian accent forced him to phase out his acting career in favor of working as a gagman and director. He directed Laurel and Hardy in their film Great Guns, under the name "Montague Banks".

Personal life

He was married to Gladys Frazin. The marriage was not a happy one and they divorced on 29 April 1932 as a result of her abusive behaviour.[3] She subsequently committed suicide in March 1939. He met singer and actress Gracie Fields in 1935, subsequently directed her in four of her films, and they married in March 1940.[4] As an Italian national, he would have been classified as an 'enemy alien' in Britain during World War II. Consequently, he and Fields left the UK for Canada initially, and then the neutral United States in order to prevent his internment.[5] Italian American internment also came into place in the United States during 1941 and 1942, affecting thousands of Italians, but this was eventually relaxed.


He held dual Italian and U.S. citizenship. He died on the Orient Express train outside Arona, Italy, of a heart attack, aged 52.[1]

Aula Didattica Monty Banks

In his home town of Cesena a foundation was created in honor of Banks, entitled the Aula Didattica Monty Banks.[6] It is "an initiative promoted by the Comune, the course is open to boys and provides the opportunity to create videos".[7]

Selected filmography




  1. "Monty Banks, 52, Screen Director" (PDF). The New York Times. Associated Press. 9 January 1950. p. 20. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  2. Robert S. Birchard (2015). Monty Banks: A Filmography 1920-1924. CreateSpace. pp. 1–72. ISBN 978-1511695817.
  3. Archived 18 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Gracie Fields (1960). Sing As We Go. Frederick Muller Limited. ISBN 978-1245763554.
  5. "Our Gracie". Time. 1 September 1947. Retrieved 16 December 2008.


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