Actor. One of the screen's all-time great heavies. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, he made his film debut in 1911 after some experience in vaudeville. Squinty-eyed, thick-jawed, and built like a bull, Kohler was almost always cast as a sadistic brute, capable of killing a man with his bare hands (which he did in more than one film). In "Underworld" (1927) he played a mobster based on real-life Chicago crime boss Dion O'Bannion, and he was a formidable villain in scores of westerns, menacing every cowboy star of the late silent and early talkie periods. Among Kohler's 200 films are "Anna Christie" (1923), John Ford's "The Iron Horse" (1924), "Riders of the Purple Sage" (1925), "Old Ironsides" (1926), "The Way of All Flesh" (1927), "The Dragnet" (1928), "The Spieler" (1928), "Call Her Savage" (1932), "Blood Money" (1933), and Cecil B. DeMille's "The Plainsman" (1937) and "The Buccaneer" (1938). Unlike his nasty screen image, Kohler was a passive, mild-mannered gentleman whose favorite pastime was raising rabbits at his little San Fernando Valley ranch. He took a stab at directing in the mid-1920s but gave it up because he could not bear telling people what to do. Having suffered many violent deaths in his films, Kohler's real passing came quietly, in his sleep, from apparent heart failure. In his final film, "Lawless Valley" (1938), he appeared opposite his son, Fred Kohler, Jr., who carried on his father's tradition of movie villainy.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards