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Unkempt, rough and tough looking members of the gang, or lynch mob, or vigilantes, or posse riders, or cow herders. They had minimal or no dialog, not much screen time, and were generally not listed in the film credits. Some would show up as a face in the crowd, portraying townspeople, barflys, deputies, wagon drivers, ranch hands, etc. We tend to recognize some of their faces, but have no clue as to their real names.

Earl Askam
Full name: Earl Leslie Rengstorff Askam
1891 - 1940
appeared in at least 12 westerns and 4 serials, and his film career ran from about 1930 - 1940.

To cliffhanger fans, Earl Askam's most remembered roles were as 'Officer Torch' in the first FLASH GORDON serial and as 'Red' in THE HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS cliffhanger.

Askam's April 2, 1940 death on a golf course was mentioned in the April 3, 1940 issue of the Film Daily tradepaper: "Earl Askam ... was stricken with a fatal heart attack while playing golf with Kermit Maynard. He was a brother of Perry Askam, concert star."

Askam's Hollywood film career was secondary to his main profession - singing in traveling repertory companies, light opera, and doing extensive stage work with his brother, noted singer Perry Askam. A 1925 issue of Variety noted that Earl was a member of the New York Metropolitan Opera company. He served during World War I as a second lieutenant and lieutenant.

  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Earl Askam and his brother Perry:
     Earl Askam:
     Perry Askam (1895-1961), noted stage actor and singer:

There are many articles on Askam in newspapers and Variety tradepapers. Below are a few highlights:

  • 1917 newspaper article about new second Lieutenants for the 23rd Infantry and Earl L. R. Askam is on the list.
  • Earl was a member of brother Perry Askam's traveling troupe which performed the "Desert Song" in various towns and cities during 1928-1933. The troupe was booked through the Fanchon and Marco company.
  • 1930 newspaper article: "Earl Askam, brother of Perry Askam, light opera star, has been temporarily borrowed from the stage to play in ... "Madam Satan", Cecil B. De Mille's current Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer comedy with music. Earl Askam has for several years been a featured singer in his brother's productions."
  • 1939 newspaper article: "Production of Verdi's "Aida" in Hollywood Bowl ... will be a massive affair. An all-Metropolitan Opera cast will sing the principal roles in the Verdi opera." Earl is mentioned as a baritone in the cast.
  • March, 1940 newspaper article: Earl Askam, brother of Perry the singer and himself something of a warbler in other days is one of several featured character actors signed for De Mille's "North West Mounted Police".
  • June, 1940 newspaper article about Rod Cameron taking over a role that Askam was to play: "Death brought him his first role, that of "Corporal Underhill" in Cecil B. DeMille's "Northwest Mounted Police." Earl Askam, a former stage star and war hero was to have played it, but he died recently of a heart attack, and young Cameron (whose real name is Rod Cox) was summoned for it."
  • The April 3, 1940 Los Angeles Times newspaper had an obituary. Excerpts: "ASKAM of 8461 Kirkwood Drive, Hollywood. Earl Askam, beloved husband of Wally, father of Earl M., brother of Perry Askam. Remains forwarded to San Jose, Cal., for military services and interment ..."
  • The San Jose News carried a funeral notice in their April 8, 1940 edition: Excerpts: "Earl Askam Dies; Funeral Services At Mountain View." "Askam was brought up in Mountain View, where his parents, the late Dr. and Mrs. Oliver Perry Askam, settled ... Dr. Askam was a well known physician in Santa Clara County. (Earl) Askam took his fist singing lessons while attending the University of Santa Clara ..."

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), the California Death Index and the death certificate provide more info on Askam:

  • 1900 census - 38 year old Oliver P. Askam (born Ohio), his 36 year old wife Helena M. (born Washington), 9 year old son Earl L. (born Washington) and 5 year old son Oliver P. Jr. (born Washington) live in Fremont, Santa Clara County, California:
  • World War I draft registration dated May 30, 1917 - 26 year old Earl Leslie Rengstorff Askam was born May 10, 1891 in Seatle, Washington. He is living at the Lenox Hotel, W. 45th Street, New York, New York. His occupation is "Candidate Reserve Office Training" and his employer is the United States and location of Plattsburgh, New York. He also lists prior military service of 2nd Lieut & Driver - American Infantry Ambulance; 3 1/2 years in California and France. There is some other scribbling but it was unreadable:
  • 1930 census - 34 year old Earl L. Askam (born Washington), 35 year old wife Wally (born Germany), and 31 year old brother Parry O. Askam (born Washington) are living in Los Angeles:
    Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet - they are renting at 1784 N. Los Palmas Avenue, Los Angeles. Occupations of both Earl and brother Perry are "Singer & actor - Theater"; and they both answer "Yes" and "World War I" to the are you a military veteran question.
  • 1940 census - 49 year old Earl L. R. Askam (born Washington) and 52 year old wife Wally (born Germany) are living in the Los Angeles area:
    1940 census takers worksheet - Earl and Wally own their home at 4507 Longridge Avenue, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor-Motion Picture Production", and in the 1939, he worked 26 weeks and earned $5,000.00+:
  • Death certificate - 41 year old Earl Leslie Askam was born May 10, 1898 in Seattle, Washington. He passed away on April 1, 1940 at 4883 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, and cause of death was coronary thrombosis. His occupation was "Vocal - Actor", and parents were Oliver Perry Askam (born Ohio) and Helena Ringstorff [sic] (born California). Wife (and death certificate informant) was Wally Askam, and they lived at 8461 Kirkwood Drive, Hollywood, California. Funeral director was Vernon F. Steen and removal/burial to Oakhill Cemetery, San Jose, California.
  • October, 1941 delayed birth certificate which was requested by Earl's wife Wally Ella Askam. His full name is listed as Earl Leslie Rengstorff Askam; birth date and location are May 10, 1891 in Black River Junction, Washington; and his parents were Doctor Oliver Perry Askam and Helena Margaret Rengstorff:
  • The California Death Index mirrors the death certificate: Earl Leslie Askam, born May 10, 1898 in Washington, Mother's maiden name was Ringstorff [sic], and he passed away April 1, 1940 in the Los Angeles area.

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website confirms that Earl Askam is interred at Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, California:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

John Wayne has his dukes on William Royle, and in the background, from L-to-R, are John Beach, Earl Askam and Olin Francis. From the Three Mesquiteers adventure, RED RIVER RANGE (Republic, 1938).

Olin Francis
Full name: Olin Caldwell Francis
1891 - 1952
appeared in at least 37 westerns and 3 serials, and his film career ran from the early 1920s - early 1940s.

The movie career of Olin Francis began circa 1921. He starred in a few before transitioning to character parts in silent films and serials.

In talkies, he wound up in lesser roles, often as a B film gang member, henchman, et al. Perhaps his meatiest B western performance occurs in TAKE ME BACK TO OKLAHOMA (Monogram, 1940), considered one of Tex Ritter's best Monograms. Francis is "Mule Bates", a released convict who's hired by Karl Hackett to handle the reins in a stagecoach race ... as well as killing Tex. But he winds up going straight and assisting Ritter, sidekick 'Slim' Andrews and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.

His last film appearance was circa 1941 ... and then he disappears from the movie business. He identified himself as an actor in the 1940 census. However, the occupation on his 1952 death certificate is "Police Officer - Air Craft".

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

The Family Search website (free), California Death Index and the death certificate provide more on Olin Francis and family:

  • 1900 census - 37 year old J. Nathan Francis, his 32 year old wife Nessie C., 9 year old son Olin Francis, and two younger children (both daughters) live in Nettleton, Lee county, Mississippi. All five family members were born in Mississippi:
    1910 census takers worksheet - father J. Nathan Francis is a "Teacher (school)" and Olin is listed as "at school":
  • 1917 World War I draft registration - Olin Caldwell Francis is living in Memphis, Tennesee, and is a locomotive fireman on the Frisco Railroad. His birth date and location are September 13, 1891 in Moareville (or Mooreville), Mississippi:
  • 1940 census - 49 year old Olin Francis and his 72 year old mother Nessie were both born in Mississippi, and they are living in Los Angeles:
    1940 census takers worksheet - Olin Francis and his mother Nessie own their home at 3737 Kelton in Los Angeles, and lived there in 1935. Olin's occupation is "Film Actor - Film Studio", and he reports that in 1939, he worked 13 weeks and earned $1200.00:
  • World War II draft registration - Olin Caldwell Francis is still residing at 3737 Kelton Ave, Los Angeles, and his mother Nessie Francis is living with him and is his contact. His birth date and location is September 13, 1891 and Mooresville, Mississippi. His employer is the Screen Actors Guild in Hollywood:
  • Death certificate - 60 year old Olin Caldwell Francis was born September 13, 1891 in Mississippi. He was divorced; occupation was "Police Officer - Air Craft"; he was a World War I veteran; and parents were James M. Francis and Nessie Caldwell, both born in Mississippi. He was hospitalized for five days and passed away at the Culver City Hospital, Culver City, Calfornia on June 30, 1952 from myocardial infarction and arteriosclerotic heart disease complicated by obesity. Burial at Inglewood Park Cemetery. Home address was 3737 Kelton Avenue, Los Angeles. Death certificate informant was Hilton Luke.
  • The California Death Index mirrors the death certificate: Olin Caldwell Francis, born September 13, 1891 in Mississippi, Mother's maiden name of Caldwell, and he passed away on June 30, 1952 in the Los Angeles area.

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website confirms that Olin Francis is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are an unidentified player, Barney Beasley, an un-moustached Tom Smith, and Ken Maynard appears to be 'rassling with Ed Brady in a still from GUN JUSTICE (Universal, 1933). The bartender is Olin Francis.

(Courtesy of Bart Romans)

From L-to-R are Curley Dresden (sans moustache), John Wayne and Olin Francis in a scene from PALS OF THE SADDLE (Republic, 1938), one of the Three Mesquiteers series.

"Kansas" Moehring
Real name: Carl F. Moehring
1897 - 1968
appeared in at least 62 westerns and 2 serials, and his career in film and TV ran from about 1913 through the early 1960s.

Carl F. "Kansas" Moehring wasn't from Kansas. He was born in Ohio. And he was in Hollywood circa 1913 as a rider and stunt man in westerns and action films. There are newspaper reports about a severe spinal injury that he suffered while working on a 1913 film at Universal.

The Lima (Ohio) Daily News from November 21, 1913 had a lengthy article on the injury and the possibility that Moehring would be paralized/disabled. The headline read "LIMA YOUTH SERIOUSLY HURT IN CALIFORNIA. CARL MOEHRING JUMPS FROM SADDLE ON BACK OF RUNAWAY BRONCHO". Following are a few excerpts from the article including a mention that his parents had moved from Ohio to Kansas (and perhaps that's when he picked up the "Kansas" moniker):

His parents were "Mrs. and Mrs. Henry J. Moehring, formerly of Lima and St. Marys ..." and "Carl Moehring ... (was) one of three Lima youths (that) ran away ... and started for the west. They went at first to Independence, Kan., where Carl's father was employed ..." and "Carl continued on to California where he secured employment with the Universal Film company."

He did recover from the spinal injury and continued stunting and riding.

Stunt men employed in Errol Flynn's CAPTAIN BLOOD (Warner Bros., 1935) were highlighted in an "Overheard In Hollywood" column in late 1935 newspapers. Names listed in the article: "Among them are Artie Ortego, Gene Alsace, Kansas Moehring, Jack Silver, Harry Dean, Si Slocum, Tom Steele, Blackie Whiteford and Jerry Pine."

By the 1940s - and perhaps due to age or injuries - he exited stunt work and did minor roles as a henchman, barfly, townsman, etc. Look closely and you might spot him in the background in 1950s TV shows such as COWBOY G-MEN, BRONCO, MAVERICK, CHEYENNE, SUGARFOOT, LAWMAN, more.

Moehring's movie and television career spanned nearly fifty years.

The Family Search website (free) has information on Moehring and family:

You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral and then to the California Death Index. There you will find dual records - one for Carl F. Moehring and another for Kansas Moehring. The other information on both records is the same: he was born 7/9/1897 in Ohio, Mother's maiden name of Ersig, and he passed away in the Los Angeles area on 10/3/1968.
Note the birth date discrepancy between the California Death Index (born July 9, 1897) vs. his World War I and II draft registrations (born July 23, 1896).

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

(From Old Corral image collection)

Standing from left to right in this still from FRONTIER OUTLAWS (PRC, 1944) are Kansas Moehring, Tex Cooper and Buster Crabbe. Sitting from left to right are Al 'Fuzzy' St. John, Marin Sais, and Frances Gladwin. Gladwin was the heroine in four of Buster's PRC oaters. Marin Sais (1890-1971) began her film career in silents. She was married to Jack Hoxie but they divorced in 1925 after about five years of marriage.

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