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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.


Oscar Gahan

Real name:
John Harvey Gahan

1888-1958

in at least 157 westerns and 2 serials

In addition to playing various henchie roles, Oscar Gahan was often a member of various singing groups, including The Arizona Wranglers and The Range Riders.  You can read a little more about Gahan in the Singers-Musicians-Groups section on the Old Corral. He passed away at the Queen of Angels Hospital, Los Angeles, on March 24, 1958.

Oscar Gahan - 1938



Oscar Gahan - early 1930s
On the left is a crop of of Gahan and his fiddle from a photo with Jack Kirk, Glenn Strange, Cactus Mack McPeters and other members of one of the variations of the 'Arizona Wranglers' and 'Range Riders' singing groups. Click HERE for the full photo.


Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Oscar Gahan: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0301104/

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), trade publications, death certificate, and California Death Index provide more on Oscar Gahan:

  • Several family trees on Ancestry.com have his full name as John Harvey Gerald Gahan.
  • June 21, 1911 marriage license of 22 year old John Harvey Gahan (occupation "Musician") to 21 year old Julia Magdeline Newell in Toronto, Ontario, Canada: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KS8Q-C6H
  • November 1, 1919 marriage license of 30 year old John Harvey Gahan to 26 year old Josephine Whiteley in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. Gahan is divorced, birth place is Orangeville, Ontario, and occupation is "musician": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DBLL-RP?mode=g&i=2470&cc=1307718
  • September 12, 1933 issue of Variety: "John Harvey Gahan, showman, sues wife, Josephine, for divorce, alleging she scrammed."
  • 1942 World War II draft registration for John Harvey Gahan, who lists his birth date and location as August 20, 1888 in Canada. He lives at 1767 Tamarind in Los Angeles and occupation is "Motion Picture Actor (Freelance) - Various Studios": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-16388-12767-24?cc=1861144&wc=MMRW-1T9:1732026634
  • Ancestry.com had the California Marriage Index which lists a September 11, 1954 marriage of Oscar Gahan to Marguerite Depugh.
  • Death certificate: 69 year old John Harvey Gahan was born August 20, 1888 in Canada. Parents were John J. Gahan (born Nebraska) and Sarah Ann Porterfield (born Canada). His occupation was Self Employed Violinist. Wife was Marguerite Gahan, and they lived at 1844 South St. Andrews Place, Los Angeles. Death certificate informant was Pearl Hamilton (his daughter). He passed away from pulmonary emphysema at Queen of Angels Hospital, Los Angeles on March 24, 1958. Utter McKinley was funeral director and cremation at Hollywood Crematory.
  • California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - John Harvey Gahan was born August 20, 1888 in Canada, mother's maiden name of Porterfield, and he passed away March 24, 1958 in the Los Angeles area: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPWX-DL9
  • March 25, 1958 Los Angeles (California) Times newspaper had an obituary for GAHAN, John H. (Oscar) and family members included wife Marguerite and daughters Ruth, Pearl and Rose.
  • A death notice clipping from an unnamed newspaper mentions that Gahan toured as a violinist on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit and he was also a member of Tom Murray's Hollywood Hill Billies musical group.

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Oscar Gahan and wife Marguerite are interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=65290682



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Jack Perrin, Tom London, Roger Williams and Oscar Gahan in a lobby card from Perrin's WILDCAT SAUNDERS (Atlantic, 1936).


(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Above from L-to-R are Earl Dwire, Steve Clark, Tom Keene, Oscar Gahan, Charles B. Murphy (with badge) and Denver Dixon (Victor Adamson) in a scene from Keene's ROMANCE OF THE ROCKIES (Monogram, 1937).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Jack Randall is on the piano and behind him from L-to-R are Frank Hagney, unidentified player (black hat), Oscar Gahan, Chick Hannan/Hannon, unidentified blonde saloon gal, Archie Ricks, and an unidentifed tall galoot in a scene from RIDERS OF THE DAWN (Monogram, 1937), Randall's first starring oater. Hagney was a henchman working for Warner Richmond. The blonde actress doesn't appear to Peggy Keys, who was the heroine in this western.



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - Max Terhune as Lullaby Joslin warms up the bunkhouse trio during the wedding sequence in COME ON, COWBOYS ! (Republic, 1937), one of the Three Mesquiteers films. Playing the fiddle is a hatless Oscar Gahan and the accordion player is Harley Luse, a regular musician in many of the Tex Ritter films for Grand National. The guitar player may be Charlie/Charley Sargent. This is one of the countless impromptu musical groups seen in the ol' B western.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Tex Palmer, Oscar Gahan, Merrill McCormick, Charlie King and Denver Dixon in a scene from the Tex Ritter WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM (Monogram, 1938).



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