|You can't accuse Rex Bell of using gawdy outfits like that worn by Ken Maynard, Tom Mix and others.|
His workmanlike costume consisted of a neckerchief and a dark shirt which was often buttoned at the top. He wore a gunbelt with a single rightside holster. His headware was most often a white hat, but he also used a black one. And he generally wore blue jeans with a long inseam and he had a large rollup on the pants legs (John Wayne also rolled his pants the same way in his Lone Star/Monogram films).
One of Bell's mannerisms was that he pushed his hat up on his forehead. You'll see several examples in the images on these Bell webpages.
(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)Above - Rex and Clara at a 1933 movie premier. (Courtesy of Janice Graves)
Above is a shot of Janice Graves' Grandfather, William Conant, with Rex Bell. "1943" is written on the back of the photo, but I think this shot may be 1950s vintage based on the gray streak in Bell's hair. No info on the location of this shot either, though Janice mentions that her Grandfather lived in California.
(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)From January, 1955 (Collage of newspaper headlines on Bell's passing from Old Corral collection)
I have a variety of full-size newspaper headlines and articles on Bell's passing and the above are some examples of the newspaper coverage of his death on July 4, 1962. Following are some date and information tidbits which I've summarized from those articles which provide additional details to the Bell biography. Have also added a few comments where the information doesn't seem to be in synch or correct.
- Bell was born in Chicago in 1903, the son of Daisy and George Curtis Beldam. Los Angeles newspapers reported that Rex's 58 year old father George passed away on June 12, 1925 in the Los Angeles area. (Bell's grave marker also shows a 1903 birth year.)
- Bell first attended school in Chicago. The family migrated to California and were living in Los Angeles at the time of the 1920 census. Bell attended and graduated from Hollywood High in 1923. (There is no mention in the newspaper articles of the family living for a time in Iowa. And if Bell was born in 1903, the Hollywood High graduation year of 1923 seems wrong, unless he lost a year or two because of the family moves.)
- His Hollywood career began in 1926 (Fox) and he retired from the screen in 1944. (His last B western was released in 1942; perhaps the 1944 date is when he 'officially' announced his retirement from films.)
- In 1930, he purchased the Walking Box ranch at Searchlight, Nevada (which were the Nevada holdings of the Rock Springs Cattle Company, and the land extended across the southern tip of Clarke County, Nevada into California). Later he acquired the Gonzales Smith ranch at Jean, Nevada. Both ranches were located in Southern Nevada, and Bell's holdings eventually rose to about a half million acres.
- In 1944, he ran - and lost the election - for the Nevada seat in the US House of Representatives.
- he was Nevada's good will ambassador ... a shrewd statesman and politician ... and the only member of the Republican Party to gain office in the 1958 election sweep of major state offices by the Democratic party.
- Bell wore western clothes and cowboy boots during his two terms as Lieutenant Governor (which also included being president/speaker of the Nevada State Senate).
- In 1945, he and his brother, Hodson M. Beldam, opened a western clothing store in Las Vegas. Bell opened a similar store in Reno in 1958.
- Bell was president and general manager of Rexco, Inc., a manufacturing and distributing firm for gift novelties.
- Bell filed his candidacy for Nevada Governor on June 18, 1962.
- For those of you who can remember politics from the President Reagan era, Bell's running mate in the 1962 election (as Lieutenant Governor) was Carson City attorney, Paul Laxalt (click HERE for a bio on Laxalt).
- Bell was with his brother, Hodson M. Beldam, when the heart attack occurred on the evening of July 4, 1962 (after the Republican July 4 political rally and two days of strenuous activities which was the launch of his run at the Governor's post in the 1962 election). Bell had complained earlier about some pains in his arm, and was to see a doctor on July 5. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Sunrise Hospital. (Bell's brother Hodson passed away from a heart attack in June, 1965 in Las Vegas.)
- a memorial service was held in Las Vegas on the Saturday after his death, and Hoot Gibson was among the attendees. Bell's remains were transported to Glendale, California for funeral and burial. Pallbearers and honorary pallbearers included Hollywood personalities Slapsy Maxie Rosenbloom, Dick Foran, Gilbert Roland, Bob Steele and Richard Arlen. Other notables in attendance were Ralph Edwards and Walter O'Malley (LA Dodgers baseball team owner).
- Clara Bow, accompanied by her nurse, attended the California funeral. Katie Jenkins, longtime friend of Bell, also attended the service.
- Bell appeared in Reno about a month before his death as the grand marshal of the Reno Rodeo Parade.
- Lots of mentions about Bell's many civic activities, including much involvement with the Boy Scouts of America ... executive board member for the 1960 Boy Scout Jamboree ... chairman of Region 10 for the Scouts ... featured speaker at many Nevada and California Boy Scout functions ... more.
- Bell was an original member of the board of directors of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
The Family Search website has information on Rex Bell and family. This is a good example of checking for spelling variations (errors) when searching census data. Below you will find last names of Beldam, Beldan and Belden and I've highlighted those:
- 1900 census: 32 year old George C. Beldam (born Illinois) and 23 year old wife Daisy reside with Beldam's mother, several sisters, a servant and a roomer at 5623 Michigan Avenue in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, Illinois. George's occupation is real estate agent: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MS74-JG7
1900 census takers worksheet: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12392-18314-25?cc=1325221&wc=MMPJ-242:n664449640
- 1910 census: 41 year old George C. Beldam (born Illinois), 32 year old wife Daisy (born Illinois), 6 year old son George F. (born Illinois), and 2 year old son Hodson M. (born Illinois) are living in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MKCW-K5G
- 1920 census: 53 year old George C. Beldan (born Illinois), 42 year old wife Daisy (born Illinois), 16 year old son George F. (born Illinois) and 12 year old son Hodson (born Illinois) are living in the Los Angeles area: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MHQF-4ZL
- 1930 census: 51 year old Daisy Belden (born Illinois) is the head of household, and she is living in the Los Angeles area with 22 year old son Hodson Belden (born Illinois) and 26 year old son George F. Belden (born Illinois): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCJ1-M27
- October 21, 1932 Los Angeles marriage license of 24 year old Hodson McLain Beldam (born Illinois) to 21 year old Katherine Emily King (born Illinois). One of the witnesses was George F. Beldam (Hodson's brother, Rex Bell): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-29947-54800-69?cc=1804002&wc=M9MJ-7Q9:n1163607794
- 1940 census: 36 year old George F. Beldam (born Illinois), 33 year old wife Clara G. (born New York), 5 year old son Rex (born California), 1 year old son George R. (born California), 62 year old mother Daisy Beldam (born Illinois), 64 year old Father-in-law Robert Bow (born New York), and a nurse and servant are living in Searchlight, Clark County, Nevada: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VYH9-KT9
1940 census takers worksheet: The Beldam family owns their home (ranch) in Searchlight, Nevada and they resided there in 1935. George F. Beldam (Rex Bell) reports his occupation as "Ranch owner - Ranching", and Clara Bow's father Robert reports his occupation as "Caretaker - Ranching". As to the census question of "Highest grade of school completed", Rex is listed as H-4 (completed four years of high school): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27879-1793-59?cc=2000219&wc=MMYW-Z2K:420006199
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on:
Rex Bell: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0068471/
Clara Bow (1905-1965): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001966
Jim Tipton's Find-A-Grave website has a picture of the marker for Rex Bell and Clara Bow at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=2096
A larger version of the grave marker image is at the BillionGraves website: http://billiongraves.com/pages/record/person/649283
The Internet Archive has several public domain Rex Bell oaters and non-westerns which you can view and download: http://archive.org/search.php?query=%22rex%20bell%22%20AND%20collection%3Amoviesandfilms
It's always interesting to click through newspaper headlines and clippings at the Google newspaper archives. 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 a mix of free and pay articles on Rex Bell: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22rex+bell%22&tbs=nws:1,ar:1&source=newspapers
The Welcome to Silent Movies website has an article on Bell and Clara Bow and their marriage/elopement: http://www.welcometosilentmovies.com/features/clara/clara.htm
There was a website for Hollywood High and Rex Bell was listed as a 1923 graduate. The website is no longer working: http://grou.ps/hollywoodhighsheiks/wiki
There's a webpage devoted to Searchlight, Nevada: http://www.2steppin.com/srchlt.htm
There's a history and chronology of the Walking Box Ranch: http://publiclands.unlv.edu/wbr/chronology.htm
And some current photos of the Walking Box Ranch: http://www.birdandhike.com/Postcards/090915_WBRanch/_WBR_index.htm
Apparently Nipton, California was the place where Bell herded his cattle ... and also the railroad stop for the many guests that visited the Walking Box ranch: http://www.nipton.com/history.html
There's a photo of Clara, Rex and their sons Rex Jr. (born 1934) and George (born 1938), and based on the age of the boys, the photo is circa 1938: http://acertaincinema.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/bow-bell-sons_opt.jpg
And more Rex Bell, Clara Bow and family photos: http://acertaincinema.com/?s=rex+bell&submit=Search
Visit the Rex Bell Elementary School, Las Vegas, Nevada: http://schools.ccsd.net/bell/
William Cramer has a website on Clara Bow, including photos and a biography: http://www.clarabow.net/biography/biography.html