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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.



Crop of George Plues - and his unique gunbelt - from the OVERLAND STAGE RAIDERS lobby card below. While the belt looks white, I'm guessin' it's tan or light gray. He wears that gunbelt in Autry's PUBLIC COWBOY NO. 1 (Republic, 1937) as well as Three Mesquiteers adventures THE THREE MESQUITEERS (Republic, 1936), COME ON, COWBOYS (Republic, 1937), and NEW FRONTIER / FRONTIER HORIZON (Republic, 1939). But he shows up as a henchman wearing a regular gunbelt in the Mesquiteers' HIT THE SADDLE (Republic, 1937).
George Plues

Real name: George Leland Plews

Last name variations: Plews, Plues, Pleus

1895 - 1953

George Plues' specialty was driving stages and wagons. And he also did some stuntwork and uncredited roles as a townsman, gang member, posse rider, etc. and his career consisted of 100+ films from 1920s silents through the early 1950s.

George Leland Plews was born in Salem, Washington County, Indiana circa 1895 to Charles Plews and Cora Barnett Plews. There were marriage problems and when the 1900 census was taken, Cora, Charles and five year old George were still in Salem ... but living in three different locations. Salem, Indiana newspapers had reports of the rift between parents Cora and Charles, and they finally divorced in 1910. By then, fifteen year old George was in Washington state and working on a horse ranch.

George enlisted in the Army and served in the Artillery during World War I. Before and after that military service, he was in Jerome, Yavapai County, Arizona and employed as a teamster.

Salem, Indiana papers indicate that George's connection to Hollywood and films occurred circa 1920 in a western starring Harry Carey, Sr.

In the early 1920s, he married Lillian E. 'Lillie' Grotewold / Grutwold (1892 - 1953), and they settled in North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California. During this period, his surname of Plews became Plues.

Wife Lillian passed away on June 28, 1953. George died August 16, 1953 at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital, Woodland Hills, California from heart problems and cirrhosis of the liver.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on George Plues: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0687538



Right - George Plues as the water wagon driver in a screen capture from chapter 10 of ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION (Republic, 1939).

Jack Mathis' Valley of Cliffhangers book on Republic serials confirms Plues in this role.



(From Old Corral collection)

Above is a 1953 re-release lobby card for OVERLAND STAGE RAIDERS (Republic, 1938). From L-to-R, John Wayne, George Plues (playing a henchman), George Sherwood (as another no-good) and Ray Corrigan. The scene in the lobby card occurs at about the 44 minute mark in the film after Wayne and Corrigan capture Plues and Sherwood.



Left to right are Al Taylor, George Plues and Edward Peil in a screen grab from COME ON, COWBOYS (Republic, 1937). Plues has a billed role and plays a henchman working for Peil. Early on in this Three Mesquiteers adventure, you can spot Plues driving a circus wagon.


Hats off!

Ray Corrigan vs. a balding George Plues in COME ON, COWBOYS (Republic, 1937).

Look close and you can see Plues' light colored gunbelt.



Above are a clean shaven George Plues - and on the right is New York Yankees superstar Lou Gehrig - in a screen capture from the Smith Ballew and Lou Gehrig starrer RAWHIDE (Sol Lesser/Principal/20th C Fox, 1938). Lots of screen time for wagon driver Plues in this.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

An unidentifed double for Johnny Mack Brown leaps on to the stage in RAIDERS OF SAN JOAQUIN (Universal, 1943). And the driver appears to be George Plues (and his hat style matches). Les Adams added an appropriate comment on this photo: "the people doing the rein work had to be good.  Check how close to the rock he had to get the team and wagon ... and they weren't walking."


On the trail of George Plews, Plues, Pleus.

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), Fold3 military records (subscription), Newspaper Archive (subscription), trade publications, California Death Index, and the death certificate provide more on George Plues and family.

There's several common threads in the following info - George's mother was Cora Barnett, then Cora Plews ... and after a divorce and another marriage, she was Cora McNeely. George's Army service number also shows up on several records. Both of those threads are highlighted in this color:

  • August 9, 1894 Clark County, Indiana marriage record of Charles Plews and Cora Barnett: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XXGY-65W
  • The family is on three separate 1900 census records - appears that Charles and Cora Plews' marriage ended circa 1900, and they - and five year old son George - were still living in Salem, Indiana, but in different locations:
    1. 1900 census - 26 year old Charles Plews (born Indiana) is a "day laborer"; is divorced; and a lodger living in Salem, Washington County, Indiana: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M99K-DB8
    2. 1900 census - 21 year old Cora Plews (born Indiana) is a sister-in-law and living with the Fletcher family in Salem, Washington County, Indiana. She is listed as married: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M99K-LM7
    3. 1900 census - 5 year old George Plews (born Indiana) is a lodger living in Salem, Washington County, Indiana: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M992-3LP
  • September 27, 1910 marriage license of Cora E. Plews and Lewis McNeely in Lawrence, Indiana. She was born September 20, 1881 in Salem, Indiana; was divorced, and this was her second marriage: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VKJD-3K4
  • 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - 15 year old George Plews is single, living in Brewster, Okanogan County, Washington, and his occupation is "farm laborer": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MGJ8-YB4
  • World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917 - 22 year old Geo Leland Pleus [sic] was born June 12, 1894 in Salem, Indiana. He is single, lives in Jerome, Arizona, and occupation is "Teamster" for the Jerome Transfer Co. in Jerome, Arizona. Looks like his signature reads "Geo Leland Plues": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZVH-44M
  • Fold3 Military records has a September, 1918 transportation / passenger log: on the list is PFC George L. Plues, service number 1420097, and contact is his mother Cora McNeely, Salem, Indiana.
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 25 year old George L. Plues (born Indiana) is single and a lodger residing in Jerome, Yavapai County, Arizona. His occupation is "Teamster - Transfer Co.": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCRY-41N
  • Ancestry had 1926 and 1928 San Fernando, California City Directories. George L. Plues is an "actor", and he and wife Lillian live at 11223 Huston.
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 33 year old George Plues (born Indiana; occupation "Actor - Motion Pictures") and 37 year old wife Lillian (born Iowa) own their home at 11223 Huston Street, Los Angeles. He was a World War I veteran: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XC83-HBH
  • Ancestry had the 1937 Van Nuys, California City Directory. George L. Plues and wife Lillian live at 11223 Huston. His occupation is "employee Remount Stables".
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 43 year old George Plues (born Indiana; occupation "Extra Actor - Motion Picture") and 47 year old wife Lillian (born Iowa) own their home at 11223 Huston Street, Los Angeles. In 1939, he worked 36 weeks and earned $3900.00: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9H2-ZRV
  • World War II draft registration dated April 25, 1942 - 46 year old George Leland Plues was born June 12, 1895 in Salem, indiana. He lives at 11223 Huston, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California. Employer is Central Casting, and contact info is Elks Lodge, Burbank, California: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V48Y-3R3
  • Ancestry had the 1944 North Hollywood, California City Directory. George L. Plues and wife Lillian E. live at 11223 Huston. His occupation is "actor".
  • Ancestry.com has a family tree which indicates that George's wife Lillian was: Lillian E 'Lillie' Grotewold (1892-1953) and she was born June 30, 1892 in Lyon County, Iowa and died June 28, 1953 in Los Angeles, California.
  • California Death Index for George's wife - Lillian Plues was born June 30, 1892 in Iowa, mother's maiden name was Grutewold, and she passed away June 28, 1953 in the Los Angeles area: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP7L-VHS
  • Death certificate: 58 year old George Leland Plues was born June 12, 1895 in Washington. Home address was 11223 Huston Street, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California. He was widowed; a World War I veteran; occupation was "Actor - Motion Picture"; father's name was unknown; mother was Cora Barnett. He passed away August 16, 1953 at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital, Woodland Hills, California, and cause of death was congestive heart failure, heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver. Pierce Brothers Valley was the funeral director and burial at Oakwood Cemetery.
    (Footnote: his birth location of Washington is a mistake and Salem, Indiana is correct. Salem, Indiana is a city in Washington Township, Washington County, Indiana.)
  • California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - George Leland Plues was born June 12, 1895 in Washington, mother's maiden name was Barnett, and he passed away August 16, 1953 in the Los Angeles area: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPDJ-YPR
  • August 26, 1953 Variety carried a death notice: "George L. Plues, 58, film actor for 35 years, died Aug. 16 at the Motion Picture Country Home, Los Angeles."
  • Ancestry had an October, 1954 application for headstone or marker for a military veteran: George L. Plues was born June 12, 1893 in Indiana. He served as a PFC from May 27, 1918 through January 18, 1919; his service number was 1420097; and he was honorably discharged from Battery A, 126th Field Artillery, 34th Division. A flat marble marker was ordered with delivery to Oakwood Cemetery, Chatsworth, California.

Newspaper Archive had many issues of the Salem, Indiana Democrat and Salem, Indiana Republican Leader newspapers with mentions of George Plews and family.

I have not included articles on battles and unpleasantries between George's parents, Charles and Cora Plews, who married in 1894 and split a few years later. They divorced in 1910, and Cora married Lewis McNeely in 1910:

  • January, 1910: "George Plews, who is now at Brewater, Washington, in the employ of Ben Elliott, writes his mother that he is pleased with his location. Mr. Elliott has a large ranch there and raises horses."
  • February, 1910: "Cora E. Plews vs. Chas. E. Plews ... and divorce granted to Cora E. Plews ..."
  • June, 1910: "... friends of George Plews give him a post card shower on his fifteenth birthday, June 12th. George is located at Brewster, Wash., and is making good."
  • October, 1918: "Mrs. Cora McNeely has recently had a message from her son, George Plews, from whom she had heard nothing for two years. The letter informed her that George is in the army at Camp Upton, New York, Bat. A 126th Reg. He has been living in the state of Washington and went into service with a western regiment."
  • January, 1919: "George Plews, son of Mrs. Cora McNeely, has arrived in the United States from France where has been doing service for Uncle Sam."
  • December, 1919: "George Plews, who has been making his home in Salem (Indiana) since discharged from the service left Saturday morning for Jerome Arizona to resume his old job with a transfer company which he held when he went into the army."
  • October, 1920: "George Plues is working with the Harry Carey company at Universal City, having returned to his old job in the movies when the company left Jerome (Arizona). He writes that he likes the work and wants Mrs. Plues to join him as soon as possible."
  • September, 1921: "Georgie Plews, a Salem boy, son of Mrs. Lewis McNeely of this place is winning celebrity as a movie actor. He is with the Harry Cary [sic] Co., and is at San Francisco, Calif. ..." ; "His aunt ... had the pleasure of seeing him in 'The Freeze Out' in Indianapolis, and wrote to his mother and relatives here of his nice appearance and good acting." (The Freeze-Out was a 1921 Harry Carey oater from Universal.)


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