|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.|
Lots of name variations:
Fox O. Callahan
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)
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
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
(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.