|For the '34-'35 season, Lane was selected as star of 'The Phantom Rider' series, a projected six-films package from Kinematrade with distribution by Empire Pictures. Only the first two were made (THE LONE BANDIT and THE OUTLAW TAMER), both of which featured strong casts and given high marks for a B-Western.|
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is the title lobby card from THE OUTLAW TAMER (Empire, 1935). In the upper right are 'Slim' Whitaker vs. leading lady Blanche Mehaffey, here billed as Janet Morgan.
(From Old Corral image collection)
From left to right in this lobby card from THE OUTLAW TAMER (Empire, 1935) are Charles 'Slim' Whitaker, Lane Chandler and J.P. McGowan. McGowan portrayed the lawman and also directed.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
|Left are Chandler and heroine Blanche Mehaffey (billed as 'Janet Morgan') in a scene from THE OUTLAW TAMER (Empire, 1935).|
After that Chandler began his long career in countless support roles. Among his best was a third-lead entry in the John Wayne starrer, WINDS OF THE WASTELAND, a Republic picture which this author feels is one of the best B-Westerns made. Chandler turns in a solid performance. He had appeared with Wayne in 1933 in the Monogram/Lone Star production, SAGEBRUSH TRAIL. That same year, Chandler had contributed solid performances in two Jack Hoxie Majestic Pictures (TROUBLE BUSTERS and VIA PONY EXPRESS) and supported Tom Tyler in Monarch's WAR ON THE RANGE.
Serials also played an important part in Chandler's career, although he starred in only one, the 1930 LIGHTNING EXPRESS, a sound remake of the Wallace MacDonald 1927 cliffhanger, WHISPERING SMITH RIDES. He could be seen in numerous other serials during the 30's but the most notable and best remembered was his role as 'Dick Forrest' in Republic's all-time classic serial, THE LONE RANGER. That same year Chandler had a featured role as 'Davy Crockett' in Sunset Productions' HEROES OF THE ALAMO.
But by now it was all support work for Chandler, who was developing into one of the most effective support actors in Hollywood, portraying all sorts of different characters, good and bad. Sometimes he was credited and sometimes he wasn't but in each his strong, forceful portrayal came through. He was a favorite of Cecil B. deMille and the noted director used him in many of his films. Chandler is reported to have once stated in an interview that while the parts were small, his favorite roles were those he played in deMille pictures.
With television looming on the horizon, Chandler, who had survived the transition from silent to sound, now made his move into television. In 1949 he made his first appearance in a TV Western when he appeared in an early episode of THE LONE RANGER. He would appear in numerous TV Westerns throughout the 50's and 60's.
His last big-screen appearance occurred in 1971 with release of Universal's ONE MORE TRAIN TO ROB, starring George Peppard. Before that he had appeared in Alex Gordon's nostalgic REQUIEM FOR A GUNFIGHTER ('65) which starred Rod Cameron but included a bevy of former genre stars.
Off screen, Chandler was considered an 'astute businessman', having an interest in a metal parts manufacturing company and a ranch in the 29 Palms area of California, which he reportedly sub-divided.
On September 14, 1972, Lane Chandler died in Los Angeles at the age of 73.
The variety of roles and number of pictures Chandler played in is staggering (in the neighborhood of 300 or more if you include the unbilled ones). One can only wonder why Chandler, who really had all the assets of a leading cowboy star, including superb acting capabilities, didn't get more starring work, especially when you consider his fine work with Hoxie, Wayne, Tyler and others. Western producer Alex Gordon has said that Chandler lost out to Tom Tyler for a series that Reliable made between 1934-36, a loss that might have enabled him to continue as a Western hero for a few more years.
The Motion Picture Herald and BoxOffice trade magazine polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars. In most cases, the winners were what you would expect --- Autry, Rogers, Holt, Starrett, Hoppy, etc. These polls did not begin until 1936, which was past Lane Chandler's period as a western film hero.
You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral, and connect to the California Death Records database and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). From the California Death Records database: Lane Chandler, born 6/4/1899 in South Dakota, and he passed away in the Los Angeles area on 9/14/1972. There is a corresponding record in the SSDI but his name is listed as Robert Oakes.
Les Adams has Chandler identified in over 300 sound era films, and this includes 124 westerns and 34 serials.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Lane Chandler: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0151420/
It's always interesting to click through excerpts of newspaper headlines and clippings at the Google newspaper archives at: http://news.google.com/newspapers
While some of the articles are free, many go to newspaper websites where you have to pay to retrieve the full article. The following link will take you to the articles about Lane Chandler being over 6' 2" tall and that he was Hollywood's only red haired leading man. Go to: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22lane+chandler%22+%2Bred+hair%22&tbs=nws:1,ar:1&source=newspapers
Starring roles --- westerns and serials
Sound films only
Special thanks to Les Adams for providing this filmography
|1/28/30||FIREBRAND JORDAN||Big 4||Alvin J. Neitz (Alan James)||Aline Goodwin||Firebrand Jordan|
|12/1/30||RIDERS OF THE RIO||Round-Up||Robert Emmett Tansey||Karla Cowan||Unknown|
|4/30/30||THE LIGHTNING EXPRESS (Serial)||Universal Pictures||Henry MacRae||Louise Lorraine||Jack Venable|
|10/11/31||HURRICANE HORSEMAN||Kent Prod||Armand Schaefer||Marie Quillan||Gun Smith|
|12/15/31||CHEYENNE CYCLONE||Kent Prod||Armand Schaefer||Marie Quillan||Bob Carlton|
|2/11/32||BATTLING BUCKAROO||Kent Prod.||Armand Schaefer||Doris Hill||Jack Winslow|
|4/1/32||TEXAS TORNADO||Kent Prod||Oliver Drake||Doris Hill||Tex Robbins|
|5/1/32||LAWLESS VALLEY||Kent Prod||J. P. McGowan||Gertrude Messinger||Bob Rand|
|7/1/32||RECKLESS RIDER, THE||Kent Prod||Armand Schaefer||Phyllis Barrington||Tex Wilkins|
|9/1/32||GUNS FOR HIRE||Kent Prod||Lewis Collins||Sally Darling (Djarling)||Ken Wayne/Flip LaRue|
|12/30/32||WYOMING WHIRLWIND, THE||Kent Prod||Armand Schaefer||Adele Tracy||Keene (The Wolf) Wallace|
|2/1/35||LONE BANDIT, THE||Empire||J. P. McGowan||Doris Brook||Lane Cartwright|
|3/15/35||OUTLAW TAMER , THE||Empire||J. P. McGowan||Janet Morgan (Blanche MeHaffey)||Tex Broderick|
|8/6/37||HEROES OF THE ALAMO||Sunset Prod.||Harry Fraser||n/a||Davy Crockett|
(Pressbook ad courtesy of Les Adams)
(Pressbook ad courtesy of Les Adams)
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Bruce Warren, Lane Chandler (in buckskins), Lee Valianos and Rex Lease in a scene from HEROES OF THE ALAMO (Sunset, 1937).
When HEROES OF THE ALAMO was first released as in indie from Sunset, Bruce Warren and Ruth Findlay were top-billed, but when Columbia picked it for distribution as a Columbia film, they redid all the optics and printed material and Lane Chandler and Rex Lease got first place on the posters and ads. See pressbook ads above.
Les Adams knew Oliver Drake and chit-chatted and interviewed him on several occasions. Les adds:
Chandler's films for Willis Kent were made at least two at a time back to back and possibly in two groups of four, the first being shot in the fall of 1931 and the last in late spring of 1932. They were booked through various independent exchanges all across the country which is why there are all kinds of different distributor names attached to them. Only a few of them were ever reviewed (usually in New York) and they may have played all over the country by then.
The dates I have attached to them in the above filmography are the first play dates from a states rights exchange in Denver, and a similar play date (i.e., made available for booking) from the Marcy exchange in the Midwest or a Monogram exchange in the South may find them in a completely different order. I use Denver based as they were probably delivered in a west coast to east coast method, and, more importantly, the Denver exchange is the only one I have dates on all eight films.
Drake had screenplay on all eight and story on five as three of them had a story credited to somebody else. His penchant for Mexican characters only applied to the leading ladies in three of them which was a bit below his average for calling the heroine Tonita, Tonia or Rosita, but Lafe McKee did get to play a character named Senor Lopez Mendoza in BATTLING BUCKAROO.
Economics rears it's ugly head many times with footage and whole sequences from one film repeated in other films. I am somewhat in awe at their ability to make some of these sequences fit a whole new plot line and different character names.
Oliver did tell me (as I'm sure he said to others) that he thought Lane Chandler would be the next Tom Mix or Buck Jones, and added that he also was the one who predicted that Gene Autry would never make it.
I have always thought that GUNS FOR HIRE was the most interesting as the plot was a bit more complex, relatively speaking, than the other seven, the villains were fleshed out a lot more than usual with Neal Hart and Bill Patton given about the best they ever had in a sound film, and two sets of semi-romantic leads, Chandler with Sally Darling and John McGuire with Frances Morris. McGuire would see duty again for Kent in a Reb Russell.
Curt Eriksmoen is a book author and writes newspaper articles and columns about Hollywood personalities that were born in North Dakota. Curt provides the following info on Lane Chandler/Robert Oakes:
The Family Search website has more info on Lane Chandler: