b. 29 March 1868, New York City, New York, USA, d. 21 January 1949, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. Cawthorn debuted in 1872, and five years later crossed the ocean to appear in London’s theatre world. He stayed in England for a little while before returning to the USA where he made his Broadway debut in 1898. Among his theatre credits are the musicals The Singing Girl (1899), Fritz In Tammany Hall (1905), The Free Lance (1906), The Hoyden (1907, in which he sang ‘My Father’s Wooden Leg’ and ‘That’s Why I Never Married’), and Little Nemo (1908).
In 1927, Cawthorn changed direction, going to Hollywood where he made a few silent films before establishing himself as a reliable character actor, appearing in more than 50 films. Among his film roles were Cornelius Van Horn (Dixiana, 1930), Maxie Schultz (Made On Broadway aka The Girl I Made, 1933), Hans Uppman (Music In The Air, 1934), and Oscar Schmidt (Sweet Adeline, 1934), Herr ‘Schumie’ Schuman (Naughty Marietta, 1935), August Schultz (Gold Diggers Of 1935), Kleber (Harmony Lane, 1935), as Florenz Ziegfeld’s father, Dr. Florenz Ziegfeld (The Great Ziegfeld, 1936), Leopold Damrosch (Lillian Russell, 1940), and Silas Harwood (in his last film, The Postman Didn’t Ring, 1942). He was married to stage and screen performer Queenie Vassar. Cawthorn was sometimes credited as Joseph Cawthorne, and with both surnames also as Joe.