(Courtesy of Randy Laing)
|As for Tyler, only one more starring role would be presented, Columbia's continued-next-week jungle escapade, THE PHANTOM (Columbia, 1943).
In the pic on the left, Tyler is still trim and fit as the "ghost who walks", and his canine companion is Ace "the Wonder Dog" (playing "Devil").
At around forty years of age, and with signs of the rheumatoid arthritis affliction that would cripple him, Tom wandered the studios looking for work. He staggered a block after being shot by Errol Flynn in SAN ANTONIO (Warners, 1945), reminding us of his earlier STAGECOACH portrayal. He was in Army tans checking John Wayne and Robert Montgomery onto the last flight from Bataan in MGM's THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (MGM, 1945), a WWII adventure about the first use of PT (Patrol Torpedo) boats. And he was with Wayne again, portraying a wounded Cavalry Corporal in SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (RKO, 1949).
Smaller roles followed, usually as a baddie, in Tim Holt RKO features and the series of six Russ Hayden/Jimmy Ellison oaters for Lippert Pictures in 1950. Probably his best work from this later period is BADMAN'S TERRITORY (RKO, 1946); as Janis Paige's loyal cutthroat in THE YOUNGER BROTHERS (Warners, 1949); and as gunman Ringo in one of Tim Holt's best, RIDERS OF THE RANGE (RKO, 1950).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Harry Woods, Tom Tyler, Anita Camargo, Jack Kenny, Robert Shayne and Pedro De Cordoba (sometimes spelled Cordova) in the Warners "Santa Fe Trail" two reel short, GUN TO GUN (Warners, 1944).
(From Old Corral image collection)
Former Hopalong Cassidy sidekicks Russell Hayden and Jimmy Ellison faced this trio of baddies in their six yarns for Lippert Pictures, and the image on the right is from MARSHAL OF HELDORADO (Lippert, 1950). From left to right are a much older looking Tom Tyler, Dennis "Denny" Moore, and John (Bob) Cason. In the background on the left is Carl Mathews.
After bit parts in COW COUNTRY (Allied Artists, 1953) and several Gene Autry TV shows, a suffering Tyler moved back to Hamtramck, Michigan and lived with his sister (Katherine Slepski) until passing away May 3, 1954 of a heart attack and complications from scleroderma. The early 1950s was a time when many new fans were enjoying Tom's films which were being shown on television. Tom Tyler is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Detroit.
Various newspapers carried death notices on Tyler who passed away on Saturday, May 1, 1954. Excerpts: "Tyler, his fortune dwindling and his stardom a thing of the past, died of a heart attack Saturday night in St. Francis hospital in suburban Hamtramck ..." ; "... Tyler's fame began to soar in recent years among children who watched his old films on television." ; "... returned to Detroit 18 months ago and was living at the home of a sister, Mrs. Katherine Slepski."
And you can learn more about scleroderma at the Scleroderma Foundation website. The brief description of the disease from their website reads: Scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis, is a chronic connective tissue disease generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. The word "scleroderma" comes from two Greek words: "sclero" meaning hard, and "derma" meaning skin. Hardening of the skin is one of the most visible manifestations of the disease. Go to: http://www.scleroderma.org/
The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. With a few exceptions, the annual poll 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. Tom Tyler never achieved a ranking in those polls ... but the Three Mesquiteers were ranked during the years when Tyler was part of the series. See below.
|Popularity Rankings of the Three Mesquiteers when Tyler was a member|
|Year||Motion Picture Herald Poll Ranking|
|1941||Three Mesquiteers ranked 8th|
|1942||Three Mesquiteers ranked 10th|
|1943||Three Mesquiteers ranked 7th|
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
TYLER AND HIS WIFE, ACTRESS JEANNE MARTEL
In the image above are Tyler and his wife Jeanne Martel. They worked together in several films, including SANTA FE BOUND (Reliable, 1936) and ORPHAN OF THE PECOS (Victory, 1937). This shot is a crop from a scene still from LOST RANCH (Victory, 1937).
(From Old Corral image collection)
TYLER'S RANGE COSTUME AND HIS HOSSES
Tyler wore a variety of hats, shirts and gunbelts during his years on the screen.
Though he was tall, muscular, and looked downright impressive, Tom was often saddled with slipshod efforts at Syndicate, Monogram, Reliable and Victory --- included were anemic production values, lack of directorial finesse, shoestring budgets and inane scripts. Tyler often appeared stiff and ill-at-ease mouthing the oftentimes incredulous dialog. Some writers note that Tom's delivery problems were due to his Lithuanian accent, but I'm not sure that is the case. It may have just been a lack of training and experience.
Tyler also never developed into a proficient screen brawler (as was Bob Steele and Tex Ritter), and often appeared to swing and churn rather than pummel his antagonist into submission.
However, when given better material such as CAPTAIN MARVEL, THE PHANTOM and the Mesquiteers features, Tom's overall performance was enjoyable and above par. But perhaps his real calling was gunfighter roles such as POWDERSMOKE RANGE and STAGECOACH, for his voice, penetrating stare, and sinister mannerisms brought instant hisses (and critical acclaim).
His seven serials rival that of cliffhanger "king" Buster Crabbe. Overall, Tyler had a near thirty year career spotted with ups and downs, trials and tribulations, mediocrity and success. Interestingly, his career and that of Bob Steele were remarkably similar. But because of fan appeal, talent, luck or whatever, Steele is remembered today along with the likes of Jones, Mix, and other big names. Yet Tom Tyler seems to have been forgotten. He deserves better for his 90+ western starring roles represent both extremes of the B western spectrum, from the Poverty Row oaters at Freuler/Monarch, Reliable and Victory to the quality and polish of Republic. Thankfully, much of his work is available on video and occasionally aired on cable.
Tom Tyler was a talented workhorse who brought some real excitement to those wonderful Saturday matinees.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Tom Tyler: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0878927/
Many of Tyler's westerns are public domain and are available on YouTube and the Internet Archive:
Tyler films on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22tom+tyler%22&lclk=long&filters=long
Tyler films at the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/search.php?query=%22tom%20tyler%22%20AND%20collection%3Amoviesandfilms
Kerry Gammill's Monster Kid website has an interview with Universal leading lady Peggy Moran. Included is a comment that she didn't know the name of the actor portraying Kharis in THE MUMMY'S HAND. There's also several photos of Tyler as the mummy. Go to: http://gammillustrations.bizland.com/monsterkid2/id5.html
Mike Tyler, the nephew of western and cliffhanger hero Tom Tyler, established a website on his Uncle. But when I checked in May, 2017, the website was no longer working: http://tomtyler.8m.com/
There's a page on Tom Tyler, including lots of images, at Brian Walker's Drive-In Theater website: http://www.briansdriveintheater.com/tomtyler.html
Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has info on Tyler: http://filesofjerryblake.com/serial-heroes/tom-tyler/
Bryan Shedden has a website on the Phantom which includes a biography on Lee Falk: http://www.deepwoods.org/lee_falk.html
Captain Marvel originally appeared in Whiz Comics #1 (1940) which was published by Fawcett. The character is now owned and copyrighted © by DC Comics: http://www.dccomics.com/
Tyler was sponsored by the Los Angeles Athletic Club and won the 1928 A. A. U. (Amateur Athletic Union) heavyweight weightlifting championship, lifting 760 pounds. Go to the bottom of this webpage: http://www.lifttilyadie.com/Results/AAUChamps.htm
The Family Search website (free) and the Newspaper Archive have information on Tyler:
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of Tyler's grave marker at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8671
|The Phantom is a registered trademark of King Features Syndicate, Inc., 235 East 45th Street, New York, NY. Captain Marvel is owned and copyrighted © by DC Comics Inc., 1700 Broadway, 7th Fl., New York, NY.|