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Rodd Redwing



(Courtesy of Jim Martin)



(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)
 
(Pressbook clipping courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is Rodd Redwing (1904-1971), and the photo above left is from CATTLE QUEEN OF MONTANA.

Redwing was noted as the fastest - or one of the fastest - quick draw artists and instructed many of the Hollywood cowboys. He was also handy with a knife and whip.

He appeared in many westerns, serials, and television shows and his career spanned from the mid 1930s through about 1971. Most of his roles were portraying Native Americans.

I do remember him in the cliffhanger, THE SON OF GERONIMO (Columbia, 1952) ... and he was 'Porico', the Son of Geronimo. Clayton Moore starred - he was available during his year off from the Lone Ranger TV show (when John Hart portrayed the LR). And Redwing and Moore (and their doubles) have several good fist fights.

But the Redwing roles I best remember are playing the Gurkha Sergeant breaking trail for Errol Flynn and his paratroopers in OBJECTIVE BURMA (Warners, 1945), and as a cavalry trooper / Indian guide in LITTLE BIG HORN (Lippert, 1951) which starred Lloyd Bridges and John Ireland.

Redwing claimed to be a member of the Chickasaw tribe. There was more on his heritage in an April, 1951 syndicated "Sights and Sounds from Hollywood" column by Gene Hanksaker. Excerpt:

"He's a fascinating fellow, half Chicksaw [sic] and half Hindu. His India-born, Brahman father was a mind-reader on the Keith vaudeville circuit. His Mississippi born mother operated beauty parlors with her sisters in New York. There she met and married 'Prince Rajpurkaii'. Rod's original name was Rodric Ashmed Tokaji Hokar Kar Rajpurkaii."

The June 2, 1971 issue of Variety reported on Redwing's death from a heart attack. Excerpt: " ... was stricken en route from London 30 minutes before landing at L. A. International Airport. He was pronounced dead 35 minutes later. He was returning from Spain, where he appeared in 'The Red Sun.' "

Not much luck tracking down records on Redwing / Rajpurkaii and family. Was able to locate the 1940 census, marriage index and death indexes on Family Search and Ancestry.com, and his World War II draft registration on Fold3 Military records:

  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 35 year old Rodric? Redwing (born India; occupation "Actor - Pictures") and his 28 year old wife Erika (born Germany) are lodgers living at 1749 La Brea, Los Angeles, California: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9C6-2S4
  • World War II draft registration - 37 year old Rodric Redwing was born August 24, 1904 in New York City. He and wife Erika reside at 1439 1/2 North Tamarind Avenue, Los Angeles, California. Employer is "Central Casting Corp". He's 5 feet, 10 1/2 inches tall, weighs 162 pounds, and lists his race as "Indian".
  • Ancestry.com had the California Marriage Index - 55 year old Rodric Redwing and 47 year old Erika R. Wagner married on March 30, 1959 in Los Angeles. (Probably in a "common-law" arrangement in earlier years, and formalized their marriage in 1959 with a license and vows.)
  • California Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Rodd Redwing - he was born August 24, 1904 in New York and passed away May 30, 1971 in the Los Angeles area:
    https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPHX-73Z
    https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V9RB-CNT

More on his wife, Erika R. Wagner:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Rodd Redwing (1904 - 1971) at Hollywood Forever (Hollywood Memorial Cemetery), Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7893643

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Rodd Redwing: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0715192/



(Courtesy of Jim Martin)

Fast draw champion Jim Martin, Redwing and Jock Mahoney did trick shooting shows in the 1950s in Southern California and Las Vegas. Jim writes:

"Above is Rodd standing proudly next to the bullet backstop displaying knife and pendulum with two targets, one on each side of the blade. The shot is called 'the pendulum trick'.  With the pendulum swinging from side to side, one bullet passes thru the open two-inch hole. The bullet is split on the knife blade and breaks both targets.

When you mentioned the stereotyping and the reputations for the Indians always being the bad guys, you reminded me of one time Rodd and I were practicing our gun work in Rodd's hideout above a gun store in North Hollywood that had formerly been a dance studio with the mirrors all along one wall. He used the mirrors to watch himself do the gun tricks so he could see what it looked like to an audience. While we were taking a break, he told me that someday he wanted to make a western where the Indians would go against stereotype and charge UP the hill instead of always coming down the hill."

Jim Martin has more on friend Rodd Redwing: http://www.gunfightergulch.com/stories/jim-martin-rodd-redwing-hollywood-gun-coach



(Courtesy of Jim Martin)



(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Above is Rodd Redwing in the Ken Curtis starrer, RIDERS OF THE PONY EXPRESS (Screencraft, 1949).



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