|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.|
Full name: Robert Jasper Reeves
1891 or 1892 - 1960
(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Above - Bob Reeves circa 1919.
(Courtesy of Boyd Magers)
Above is a vending machine card showing the cigar smokin' Bob Reeves circa early 1930s. The "Ex. Sup. Co., Chgo" marking in the lower left stands for the Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago, a firm which manufactured vending machine novelties from about 1901 to the mid-1960s. It went out of business around 1979.
Robert Jasper 'Bob' Reeves was a tall galoot that hailed from Texas.
He did military service during World War I but did not serve overseas. Private First Class Robert Jasper Reeves, 12th Company, Los Angeles, Coast Artillery Corps., United States Army was honorably discharged at Fort MacArthur, California on December 12, 1918. Some biographies have Reeves attending Texas A&M University, perhaps on a baseball scholarship. Am unsure of that - in the 1940 census, Reeves reported only one year of college attendance.
Circa 1919, he began his Hollywood career. Among his earliest films were a couple of cliffhangers for Universal: ELMO THE MIGHTY (Universal, 1919) with Elmo Lincoln and THE GREAT RADIUM MYSTERY (Universal, 1919) which starred Eileen Sedgwick and Cleo Madison.
During the 1920s, there were many western movie heroes. Topping the list were Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix, Buck Jones and a few others. A secondary bunch were also riding the range - guys like Bob Custer, Dick Hatton, Bob Curwood, Don Coleman, Jay Wilsey (Buffalo Bill Jr.) ... and Bob Reeves.
Reeves got more paydays from Universal which utilized him in their Hoot Gibson adventures and even starred him in some western shorts. And there was the "Cactus series" of two-reelers with Reeves as the lead. Distributed by the Western Pictures Exploitation Company, the Cactus shorts were helmed by Albert S. Rogell and the female interest was Maryon Aye (1903-1951), a 1922 WAMPAS Baby Star. Bob's finale as a cowboy hero was a batch of sagebrush adventures for Anchor Distributing.
After his Anchor series ended, Bob transitioned to support/character roles in silent oaters starring Jack Perrin, Tom Tyler and others.
When talkies arrived, he was approaching forty years of age. In the 1930s, he shows up as a henchman, lawman, etc. in sagebrushers with Ken Maynard, Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, Tom Tyler, Tom Mix, more. He also worked in many 1930s cliffhangers - there were five for Mascot producer/owner Nat Levine and five Universals with McCoy, Tyler and Jones.
By the 1940s and later, he did mostly uncredited background/bits as a bartender, barfly, townsman, police officer, etc. in westerns as well as other films. A Christmas classic is a good example of Reeves pickin' up a days pay for a ten second appearance in an A grade film:
At the end of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (20th Century Fox, 1947), lawyers John Payne and Jerome Cowan are chatting with Judge Gene Lockhart ... and Payne announces that the U. S. Postal Service has officially recognized Edmund Gwenn as Santa Claus. The court room doors are opened and in walks many uniformed police officers carrying sacks of Santa mail. One of the last officers is Bob Reeves.
He stayed busy, working extensively in 1950s television programs. Examples: you can spot him in several of the Warner Bros. TV westerns (MAVERICK, SUGARFOOT, CHEYENNE) as well as a couple dozen of the WYATT EARP series with Hugh O'Brian. One of Bob's final movie jobs was the cigar chomping barkeep in the John Wayne and Dean Martin RIO BRAVO (Warners, 1959).
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Bob Reeves: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0716162/
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website confirms that Reeves is interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8740005
Above is a portion of a multi-page, purple colored advertising section in the April 12, 1924 edition of the Universal Weekly trade publication. Jack Hoxie and Hoot Gibson were starring in Universal's full length western features. Among the Universal heroes doing two-reel oaters were Harry Carey, Roy Stewart, Pete Morrison ... and Bob Reeves.
Above is a full page tradepaper ad from July, 1925 for Reeves' western features for Anchor. Bob Reeves, "The Miracle Man of the Plains", was about 34 years old when he starred in these.
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), Newspaper Archive (subscription), California Death Records database, and the death certificate provide more information on Bob Reeves and family. Note the confusion with his 1891 or 1892 birth date which I've highlighted in red:
For those with a subscription to Ancestry.com, you may want to view Bob Reeves information at the Tannich Family Tree and the Wise Family Tree. There you will find scanned copies of his military discharge papers, more. There is also a birth certificate for "R. J. Reeves (initials only)". It includes affidavits dated June, 1942 confirming his January 28, 1892 birth date and a birth location of Stranger, Texas (which is located about ten miles from Marlin in eastern Falls County, Texas).