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In Search Of Robert J. Horner/Robert John Horner/Bob Horner, B movie producer/director.
Confusion with 25 year old Robert J. Horner who was killed in a 1935 car accident in California.
In summary - there were TWO different Robert J. Horners ... and they are not related to each other.

Robert J. Horner/Robert John Horner/Bob Horner, low budget B movie producer/director/writer:

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), tradepapers, death certificate, and newspapers have more info Horner and family:

  • 1900 census: living in Spring Valley, Illinois are 34 year old Daniel Horne [sic] (born Ireland; occupation "Coal miner"), 30 year old wife Margaret (born Illinois), 9 year old daughter Cecil [sic] (born Illinois), 8 year old daughter Glena (born Illinois), 7 year old son Robert (born Illinois), 5 year old son Willie (born Illinois), and 3 year old son Edmond (born Illinois):
  • 1910 census: 16 year old Robert Horner and 14 year old William Horner are among dozens of teenaged boys (listed as "lodgers") at the "Working boys Home" at 1128-1140 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago. The occupation of Robert is "Errand - boy" and William is an "Apprentice - printer" (and those are the same occupations listed for most of the boys at the Home):
    This is the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago. The home is still in operation and the following link will take you to their history page - their Headquarters is at 1140 W. Jackson Blvd., just west of downtown Chicago:
  • World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917 for 22 year old Robert John Horner, 4040 Broadway Av., Chicago. He is single; born September 14, 1895 in Spring Valley, Illinois; occupation is "paper writing, North Shore Review" at 4040 Broadway Avenue, Chicago; and the registration notes "Physical disability - limbs off" and "Limbs severed":
  • Trade publications had mentions of Horner's 1923 marriage:
    September 27, 1923 Variety noted Horner's Los Angeles marriage to Freda Bohm of Chicago, and "... losing his legs in an accident when six years old."
    October 18, 1923 Variety: "Frieda Bohnn ... was married to Robert J. Horner, a legless movie director, of Los Angeles, Sept. 17."
    October 13, 1923 Motion Picture News: "... marriage of Frida A. Bohnn, St. Louis girl, to Robert J. Horner, Hollywood film director, at Tia Juana, Mexico, with Eva Novak and George Cresebro [sic] as witnesses." ; "Miss Bohnn is the daughter of Mrs. Anna C. Bohnn ... St. Louis."
  • 1930 census - owning their home at 425 North Harper Avenue, Los Angeles are 32 year old Robert J. Harner [sic] (born Illinois) and his 29 year old wife Frieda (born Missouri). Also living there is 21 year old brother-in-law Julius Bohnn. No occupations listed for any of the three people:
  • 1942 World War II draft registration for Robert John Horner; born September 14, 1894 in Springvalley, Illinois; occupation is "Road Show Exhibitor"; and his home address is 962 N. Wilton Place, Los Angeles. His contact is Wm. T. Horner, 5937 N. Maplewood Ave., Chicago, Ill. (his brother who is mentioned in the funeral notice below). There's a handwritten notation on the registration card: "cancel - deceased 7-29-42 El Paso, Texas":
  • Texas death certificate for Robert J. Horner - he was born September 14, 1896 in Illinois; is divorced; occupation is "Projectionist"; and his parents were Dan Horner and Margaret Cline. He passed away on July 29, 1942 at the El Paso City-County Hospital, and cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver. Interment at Evergreen cemetery (no city mentioned for the cemetery, but I assume it is located in El Paso):
  • There was a death notice and funeral information in the El Paso (Texas) Herald Post newspaper:
    Excerpts from July 30, 1942 death notice: "Funeral arrangements for Robert J. Horner of Hollywood, Cal are pending ... died yesterday in a hospital ... survived by two brothers, William and Ed Horner of Chicago, Ill."
    Excerpt from the August 1, 1942 funeral mention: "Burial was in Evergreen Cemetery."

Robert J. Horner's parents, siblings, and step-father:

  • Cook County, Illinois marriage index for the January 26, 1890 marriage of 23 year old Daniel or David Horner and 20 year old Maggie Kleine at St Patrick's Church, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois:
  • 1910 census for Horner's mother Margaret and daughter Cecile. 37 year old Margaret (born Illinois) has re-married and is now Margaret C. Milliken and her husband is 35 year old William Milliken (born Scotland). 17 year old daughter Cecile M. Horner (born Illinois) is living with her along with new daughter Olive M. Milliken:
  • 1920 census - living in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois are 46 year old William Milliken (born Scotland), his 44 year old wife Margaret Milliken (born Illinois), and 10 year old daughter Olivet (born Illinois). Also living with them are: 23 year old William Horner (born Illinois), 21 year old Edwin Horner (born Illinois), and 19 year old son Rosemunt Horner (born Illinois). I think the Rosemunt / boy is really daughter Rose / Rosamond:
  • 1930 census - living in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois are 58 year old William Milliken (born Illinois), his 56 year old wife Margaret Milliken (born Illinois), 20 year old daughter Olivet Milliken (born Illinois), and 22 year old stepdaughter Rose Horner (born Illinois):
  • Illinois Death Index for 69 year old Margaret M. Milliken - father's name was Bernard Cline; husband was William A. Milliken; and she passed away on February 10, 1939 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois:
  • ProQuest obituaries had a funeral notice in the February 12, 1939 Chicago Illinois Daily Tribune for Margaret M. Milliken, nee Cline. Survivors were husband William; and she was the mother of Robert, William, Edmund Horner, Cecil [sic] Murphy, Blanche Swift, Rosamond Wagman, and Olivette Hasvold.
  • 1940 census - rooming in Chicago, Illinois is 67 year old William Milliken (born Scotland), and his occupation is "Stationary engineer - Building Maintenance":
  • 1942 World War II draft registration for William Thomas Horner, 5937 Maplewood Ave., Chicago. He was born 1896 in Spring Valley, Ill. and his contact is E. D. Horner, 6321 N. Talman Ave., Chicago:
  • 1940 census for Edmund D. Horner and his wife and two children are renting at 6321 Talman Ave., Chicago:


  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Horner:

History of the short-lived Ebony Film company of Chicago:

You can download/stream several of Horner's western epics from YouTube:

Ted Wells and Jimmy Aubrey in THE PHANTOM COWBOY (Aywon, 1935):
Jack Perrin in THE APACHE KID'S ESCAPE (Cosmos/West Coast, 1930):
BORDER MENACE (Aywon, 1934) with Jimmy Aubrey as Bill Cody's sidekick "Polecat Pete":

The 25 year old Robert J. Horner who died in a 1935 car accident:

On Saturday night, May 4, 1935, there was a car accident near San Diego which claimed the lives of four of five people. Child star Jackie Coogan was injured but lived. Coogan's father, John H. Coogan, was the driver and died at the scene. Also killed were 19 year old Trent 'Junior' Durkin, Charles (or Clarence) Jones (the manager of the Coogan Ranch), and Robert J. Horner. Newspaper clippings mention that this Robert J. Horner was an "actor ... 25 years of age ... a young screen and radio writer". Since Jackie Coogan's father was the driver, two lawsuits were filed seeking financial compensation from Jackie - one was by Junior Durkin's family and a second by Horner's mother.

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Records database and various newspapers have info on the 25 year old Robert J. Horner. A consistency across these records and articles is his mother, Anna V. Horner:

  • 1910 census: 28 year old Robert J. Hoerner [sic] (born New York), 26 year old wife Anna V. (born New York), 3 year old daughter Elsie V. (born New York), 2 year old daughter Muriel E. (born New York), and newborn son Robt J. (born New York) are living in Queens, New York:
    Ancestry had the 1910 census takers worksheet: the occupation of father Robert J. Hoerner is "Merchant - Furniture". The census visit occurred on May 21, 1910 and newborn son Robert J. is 11/12 old (indicating about eleven months of age, which would put his birth year as 1909).
  • 1930 census: renting at the Hotel Dauphin, 67th Street and Broadway, New York City are 46 year old Anna Horner (born New York; widowed), 23 year old daughter Elsie V. (born New York), 22 year old daughter Muriel (born New York), 20 year old son Robert J. (born New York) and 18 year old daughter Constance (born New York). Occupation of 20 year old Robert J. Horner is "Stenographer - Chemical":
  • Newspaper articles about the car accident note that the Robert J. Horner who died was 25 years old (which would put his birth date as circa 1909). There was a funeral notice for Robert J. Horner in the May 7, 1935 Los Angeles Times newspaper. Excerpt: "Robert J. Horner, beloved son of Anna V. Horner, loving brother of Muriel, Constance and Elsey V. Horner." (The mother and three sisters mentioned in the funeral notice match the 1930 census info above.)
  • The California Death Index for years 1909-1939 doesn't provide much detail - there is a record for Robert J. Horner passing in 1935 and he was born about 1910 and is about 25 years old: And there is no info in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) since this Robert J. Horner died prior to the establishment of Social Security numbers.
  • Anna V. Horner's lawsuit against child actor Jackie Coogan ended in June, 1936, and there were newspaper reports. Excerpt: "Judge Swain ... instructed the jury to return a verdict for the defendant on the ground that a minor has no control over the action of his father and hence young Coogan was not responsible for Horner's death." (The suits by the Durkin family were also dismissed.)
  • His mother, Anna V. Horner, is specifically mentioned in the accident articles as well as later newspaper reports on her lawsuit against Jackie Coogan. The California Death Index has a record on Anna V. Horner, born October 12, 1886 in New York and passed away on February 26, 1973 in the Los Angeles area.

Notice the "Merchant - Furniture" in red font in the above 1910 census for Horner's father. Our 25 year old victim in that 1935 car accident was the grandson of R. J. Horner, noted New York furniture designer and manufacturer. More at:

(Courtesy of Renee Brouillette)

Above - June 22, 1935 clipping from an unidentified newspaper.

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