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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, barflies, deputies, wagon drivers, ranch hands, etc. We tend to recognize some of their faces, but have no clue as to their real names.



1943
Fox O'Callahan

Lots of name variations:
Fox Callahan
Foxy Callahan
Foxy O'Callahan
Fox O. Callahan
Max Callahan
Max Holcomb

Real name:
Maxwell Joseph Holcomb

1900-1976

Some B western performers performed on the rodeo circuit prior to Hollywood, and names that come to mind include Yakima Canutt, Frank McCarroll and Chick Hannon. Another was Maxwell Joseph Holcomb, the subject of this profile.

He was born in South Dakota in January, 1900. Background information on him is sparse, and following is my summary based on available information.

Around 1930, Maxwell Joseph Holcomb was "Max Callahan" and one of the rodeo performers appearing in the dreadful Tom Keene PARDON MY GUN (RKO, 1930). In the early 1930s, professional rodeo performer Max did another name change to "Fox O'Callahan". And from 1930s and 1940s newspaper clippings, Fox O'Callahan won some events and was an officer in the RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association). He also settled down in the Newhall, California area.

His sporadic film work spanned many decades and he did appear in silents. The earliest tradepaper mention that I found was in the January 30, 1926 issue of Motion Picture News - Max Holcomb was in the cast of Bob Custer's BEYOND THE ROCKIES (FBO, 1926).

The bulk of his movie work begins in the early 1940s when he was over forty years of age. Perhaps the quantity of rodeos had been negatively impacted during the World War II years. Or Holcomb decided that he could eliminate lots of travel, lots of bruises, and make a decent living in B westerns as a stunt man as well as playing uncredited roles as a henchman, townsman, barfly, posse rider, stage driver, etc. He was still active in films - as well as television programs - into the mid 1960s.

He did a hitch in the U. S. Army circa 1918-1919. In the 1930 census, he and first wife Eva Blanche McCoy are in Los Angeles and Maxwell's occupation is "Actor - Motion Pictures". Unsure what happened to Eva, but Maxwell marries Sybeal Oralee Albertson in 1938 in Utah.

He's a "Calf Roper-Rodeo" in the 1940 census, and in the rodeo business in several 1940s Newhall, Los Angeles county voter registrations. This leads me to believe that he considered rodeoing as his primary occupation and movie roles were to supplement his income.

Les Adams has him pegged in about ninety oaters.

The SCVHistory.com website (Santa Clarita Valley) has a 2006 article by Linda Tarnoff about noted rodeo performer Phil Rawlins and Fox O'Callahan is praised. An excerpt follows and the link to the full article is further down on this webpage:

Phil Rawlins "... learned about the Canyon from local Newhall pioneer Fox O'Callahan, a famous rodeo cowboy who also worked in the motion picture business. To this day, Phil maintains that Fox should have a star on Newhall's Western Walk of Stars. It was from Fox that he purchased 10 acres behind his current home ..."

Sources have several variations of Holcomb's rodeo and movie name - there's Fox O'Callahan, Fox Callahan, more. However, it appears that "Fox O'Callahan" was the name chosen by Holcomb ... and "Fox O'Callahan" is the name most often mentioned in rodeo clippings in newspapers.


(Courtesy of Les Adams)
1944

 Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on:
Callahan: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0130192
IMDb has a 1926 Bob Custer silent with a Max Holcomb in the cast: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1600526

The SCVHistory.com website (Santa Clarita Valley) has that 2006 article by Linda Tarnoff about noted rodeo performer Phil Rawlins and Fox O'Callahan is mentioned: http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/pcpoa1206-philrawlins.htm



Ancestry.com has several family trees created by Holcomb family members. However, the information below has the same or more detail than those family trees.

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), Newspaper Archive (subscription), Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and California Death Index have information on Fox O'Callahan / Maxwell Joseph Holcomb:

  • 1900 census - Maxwell Holcomb was born January, 1900 in South Dakota to 28 year old Charles Holcomb (born Iowa) and 23 year old Katie Holcomb (born South Dakota). They are living in Yankton, South Dakota at the home of her parents, M. J. and Ellen McLarin: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMRF-HFY
  • 1910 census - living in Kadoka, Stanley County, South Dakota are 36 year old Chales Halcomb [sic] (born South Dakota), his 31 year old wife Catherine M. (born South Dakota) and six children ages ten through a newborn. The oldest is ten year old son Maxwell J. Halcomb [sic] (born South Dakota): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MPXV-1DV
  • Ancestry had a record from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File for: Maxwell Holcomb, born January 13, 1900. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 5, 1918 and was discharged August 12, 1919.
  • 1920 census - living in Township 41, Washabaugh County, South Dakota are 48 year old Charles Holcomb (born South Dakota), his 41 year old wife Katherine (born South Dakota), and their nine children, ages 19 to newborn. The oldest child is 19 year old son Maxwell J. Holcomb: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6J3-DXS
    Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet - the occupations of father Charles is "Farmer - Livestock" and Maxwell is "Laborer - home farm".
  • Ancestry had the July 12, 1924 marriage record of 24 year old Maxwell Joseph Holcomb to Clarance Frances Sullivan in Wolf Point, Roosevelt County, Montana.
  • Newspaper Archive had October and December, 1925 articles from the Anaconda (Montana) Standard and Helena (Montana) Daily Independent newspapers on the (messy) divorce of Clara Frances Holcomb from Maxwell Joseph Holcomb. They were married July 12, 1924 in Poplar, Montana, but she was only 15 years of age and did not have parental consent. She also claimed that Holcomb deserted her. Clara was granted a divorce in December, 1925, and Holcomb did not contest the divorce.
  • July 7, 1928 Montana marriage license of 28 year old Maxwell Joseph Holcomb (born Yankton, South Dakota; previously married) to 22 year old Eva Blanche McCoy (born Oregon) in Great Falls, Cascade County, Montana. His parents were Charles Holcomb and Katherine McLain: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11778-99120-24?cc=1609797
  • 1930 census - living in Los Angeles, California are 30 year old Maxwell J. Holcomb (born South Dakota), his 24 year old wife Eva B. (born Oregon), brother-in-law Lenthal L. McCoy (born Oregon), and a boarder: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XC8C-DZQ
    Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet - the occupations of Maxwell, wife Eva, and brother-in-law Lenthal L. McCoy are "Actress or Actor Motion Pictures". Maxwell indicates he is a veteran of World War I.
  • There's a passenger list from a ship that sailed from Sydney, Australia to Honolulu in 1937 with Holcomb as a passenger - Maxwell Joseph Holcomb is single and was born January 13, 1900 in Yankton, South Dakota. Other rodeo professionals are also on the list including Floyd Stillings, Johnie Schneider and Oral Zumwalt. They were returning from a rodeo tour in Australia: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-36724-24448-46?cc=2141044
  • September 17, 1938 marriage record (not the license) of Sybeal Oralee Albertson to Maxwell Joseph Holcomb in Latah, Idaho: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-9727-15146-5?cc=1662500
  • 1940 census - living in Soledad Township, Los Angeles County, California are 40 year old Maxwell Halcomb [sic] (born South Dakota) and his 27 year old wife Sybeal (born Nebraska): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9WP-RCP
    1940 census takers worksheet: they are renting and live at Placerita Canyon, Soledad, Los Angeles County. His occupation is "Calf Roper - Rodeo": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27796-1724-6?cc=2000219
  • Ancestry had Los Angeles County voter registrations for Maxwell and wife Sybeal and some list an occupation. Note the confusing address variations for he and Sybeal. Were they living apart ... or did they have several properties?:
    1942 Los Angeles voter registration for Newhall Precinct No. 2 has Maxwell J. Holcomb (occupation rodeo) living at Placerita canyon. Mrs. Sybeal O. Holcomb (housewife) is at Sec 36, T 3 N, R 16 W, and Philip L. Holcomb (laborer) is at Sec 1, T 3 N, R 16 W. (Philip is his brother, born about 1920 and is the youngest of the Holcomb children in the 1920 census.)
    1944 Los Angeles voter registration for Newhall Precinct No. 2 has Maxwell J. Holcomb (occupation rodeo), living at Placerita canyon while Mrs. Sybeal O. Holcomb (housewife) has Quigley Canyon.
    1954 Los Angeles voter registration for Newhall Precinct No. 2 has Maxwell J. Holcomb at Placerita Canyon and Mrs. Sybeal Holcomb at Tuigley [sic] Canyon.
  • The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and California Death Index have records for Maxwell J. Holcomb, born in South Dakota, last residence was Newhall, California, and he passed away April 14, 1976 in the Los Angeles area. The SSDI has his birth date as January 13, 1900 while the California Death Index has January 13, 1901.
  • The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and California Death Index have records for Sybeal Oralee Holcomb, born November 15, 1912 in Nebraska, father's last name was Albertson, mother's maiden name was Easton, and she passed away April 10, 1993 in the Los Angeles area.



Tex Ritter's TROUBLE IN TEXAS (Grand National, 1937) was about rodeo racketeers and had extensive rodeo footage.

Excerpt from one of the pressbook ads:

"The world champion cowboys in this exciting musical western include: Yakima Canutt, Chick Hannon, Fox O'Callahan, Harry Knight and many other equally well known, and their reckless feats of daring in the great rodeo sequences have never been equalled on the screen."


Google, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, the TROVE (Australia) newspaper archive, the Chicago Tribune archives, and the Newspaper Archive (subscription) have articles on rodeo professional Fox O'Callahan ... along with Fox searching for a missing transport plane:

1946 - Fox O'Callahan is an officer in the RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association): http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=336&dat=19460924&id=g2RSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vXwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6754,2417810

1945 - Fox O'Callahan is one of the judges at the Leo Carillo Rodeo in Los Angeles: https://books.google.com/books?id=thEEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT45&lpg=PT45&dq=%22fox+o.+callahan%22+%2B%22rodeo%22&source=bl&ots=TTigQH0rj2&sig=vAlB4VtFTxJ5l-eGXzuDovjkeB8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5Lf0VOP3NK6asQSUooGoCg&ved=0CDEQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=%22fox%20o.%20callahan%22%20%2B%22rodeo%22&f=false

1943 - Fox O'Callahan is one of the stars of the Hoot Gibson Rodeo in Lodi, California (article begins on first page in the center, and continues onto page three): http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=dXBh7-90p_YC&dat=19430528&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

1938 - Fox Callahan wins calf roping at Colfax, Washington: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19380911&id=9xxWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0eMDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6635,3114060

1937: Fox O'Callahan is rodeoing in Australia: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/17292937 and http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/36869621

1936: Fox O'Callahan is among the searchers looking for the wreckage of a United Airlines transport plane in Saugus, California: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1936/12/29/page/2/article/searcher-tells-of-big-planes-slide-to-death

1935 - Fox O'Callahan is a contestant at the Heppner Rodeo in Heppner, Oregon: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1025&dat=19350829&id=kyYlAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UxEGAAAAIBAJ&pg=3891,805337

1932: Fox O'Callahan takes first place in bareback riding at the Livermore Rodeo in Livermore, California: http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SN19320527.2.50#

There were more articles on Fox O'Callahan doing rodeos at the Newspaper Archive (subscription). Examples: he was third in calf roping at a July, 1935 rodeo in Reno, Nevada; he took first place in bareback riding at an August, 1937 rodeo in Centralia, Washington; was in fourth place in team roping at an April, 1947 rodeo in Long Beach, California.




(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Wasn't he called "Foxy"?

Newspaper clippings have him as Fox O'Callahan ... never "Foxy" O'Callahan.

Les Adams had a copy of Dell's Summer, 1950 Western Stars comic book, and there's an article and several photos about Allan 'Rocky' Lane, his ranch, and Foxy O'Callahan helpin' with the chores. One of the images is shown on the left.

Perhaps he was called "Foxy" by his close friends.



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - production still from the first Trail Blazers' adventure, WILD HORSE STAMPEDE (Monogram, 1943) with Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson. Brains heavy Ian Keith is on the right in the suit. Lots of faces in this photo, and below is a crop/blowup:

L to R are Ken Maynard, three unidentified players, Bob Baker, Reed Howes (mustache), and Hoot Gibson. Looks like onetime child star Buzz Barton in the background with hands in the air.


L to R are unidentified player, Tex Palmer, Tom London, and Ian Keith. On the stairs is Fox O'Callahan.



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