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The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.



Above - face shots of Forrest Taylor and actress/wife Ada Daniels cropped from a 1916 newspaper theater ad.



(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Above - a young Forrest Taylor - circa 1920.




(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)
Forrest Taylor - mid 1930s
Forrest Taylor

Full name: Edwin Forrest Taylor

1883 - 1965


Edwin Forrest Taylor was born in Ellsworth, Illinois in 1883 and came from a theatrical family. His father, Christopher C. Taylor (1855-1919), was a showman and theater owner/manager in Illinois.

Forrest's acting career began in the early 1900s in stage plays. Over the next thirty years, he was a prolific leading man and character player with many theater troupes. Billed as "E. Forrest Taylor", newspapers and trade publications indicate that much of his stage work was "out west" in California, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, Oregon and Utah. During those years, Taylor was employed by established theatrical companies such as Willard Mack, Orpheum Players, Colonial Players and the Wilkes Players. On occasion, he formed his own traveling company, and he also managed/directed some productions.

While the legitimate stage was his bread and butter, Taylor dabbled in silent films. Circa 1915-1917, he was a star and supporting player in mostly western shorts, initially for the American Film Company followed by a stint with Kalem. And in the late 1920s, he had a few supporting roles including a 1926 Tom Mix oater for Fox (which is among the lost/missing films).

He was married twice, and both wives were actresses who appeared with him on the stage. In 1905, he tied the knot with Ada Dirette Daniels while they were performing in Idaho. His second was a 1925 Utah marriage to Ann/Anne Hutchinson Berryman, and that pairing was successful and lasted through Forrest's death in 1965. With Ada, there were two children - son Forrest, born in 1906, and daughter Jeanne, born circa 1915. Son Jack was born about 1927 during Forrest's marriage to Ann/Anne.

Following are a few newspaper/trade mentions from 1908-1915 when Forrest was in his mid twenties and had already established himself as a legitimate stage performer:

  • April, 1908 announcement that "E. Forrest Taylor, a young actor who was connected with various stock cos.... has organized a stock co. of his own to tour Utah, Nevada and California. The co. includes ... Ada Daniels ..."
  • May, 1908 - the Taylor-Daniels company were doing the play "Jim the Westerner" in Nevada.
  • April, 1911 - Forrest was with the Maude Leone Players in "The Girl Question" at the Lyceum Theater in Duluth.
  • November, 1911 - "Willard Mack has secured The People's Theater, Chicago ... open an indefinite Stock season October 30. ... engaged the following people ... Forrest Taylor ... Ada Daniels ..."
  • June, 1912 - Forrest was in in Salt Lake City, Utah with the Orpheum Players in "The Conquerors".
  • May, 1913 - Forrest and Ada Daniels were in Salt Lake City with the Utah Stock Company at the Utah Theater (old Orpheum Theater).
  • February, 1915 - Taylor joins the Empress Company in Tacoma, Washington.

Jump forward to the 1920s. Forrest and Ada Daniels divorced and his new leading lady was Ann/Anne Berryman. In the mid 1920s, they performed in Denver, Colorado, Portland, Oregon, other locales. He and Ann/Anne became husband and wife on February 4, 1925 in Farmington, Utah, and a couple years later, son Jack was born. Circa 1926-1930, they settled down in sunny California and worked extensively with the Plaza Players in Sacramento and Savoy Players in San Diego.

There was a movie series planned for Forrest and Anne. J. Charles Davis II and his Davis Distributing company handled films from the independents. In the Spring of 1925, Davis announced that Forrest and Ann would star in eight five reel "society comedy dramas". These were to be "Forrest Taylor Productions" from the J. J. Fleming Production company and were to be lensed in Fleming's Beaverton, Oregon facility near Portland. However, the Taylor/Berryman series didn't happen.

By the early 1930s, Forrest was near fifty years of age and had been living and working "on the road" for over half of his life. He was no longer leading man material and the stock market crash and Depression had negatively impacted stock theater. Settling on a career in newfangled talking pictures, he became entrenched as a character/supporting player in B westerns and serials, often portraying the boss baddie/brains heavy. As he grew older and grayer, Taylor took on nice guy roles such as the father of the heroine, lawman, doctor, preacher, rancher, etc.

As the westerns and serial faded, he migrated to TV work and can be seen in THE CISCO KID, ROY ROGERS SHOW, GENE AUTRY SHOW, ANNIE OAKLEY and many other early television programs. He had an ongoing role as "Grandpa Fisher" in the 1950s religious/inspirational TVer, THIS IS THE LIFE (not THIS IS YOUR LIFE with Ralph Edwards). THIS IS THE LIFE was a syndicated production from the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.

My favorite Taylor role is in the early John Wayne oater, RIDERS OF DESTINY (Lone Star/Monogram, 1933), in which the young Wayne portrays undercover lawman "Singing Sandy". Can you remember this film ... and Forrest Taylor? Greasy Earl Dwire was Taylor's gunslingin' henchman, and in the street shootout near the end of the film, Wayne plugs Dwire through both wrists. Taylor, who has been foiled by Wayne at every turn, is nervously munching and mouthing a cigar through the entire six reels. And during the climatic chase, Taylor and his mount (Yak Canutt doubling for him) go over a cliff and he drowns in the river (with bubbles rising to the surface of the water).

A few more good Forrest Taylor westerns come to mind:

  • He's a preacher in one of Bob Steele's better Supreme oaters, THE RED ROPE (Supreme, 1937).
  • A no-good father and son, played by Forrest Taylor and Bob Terry, are out to get heroine Joan Barclay's ranch in the Tim McCoy TEXAS WILDCATS (Victory, 1939).
  • Taylor is out to rule the Cherokee Strip and build a cattle empire in the Tex Ritter RIDIN' THE CHEROKEE TRAIL (Monogram, 1941).
  • In the Range Busters WRANGLER'S ROOST (Monogram, 1941), he's a minister/deacon trying to build a church. But years earlier, Taylor was the notorious outlaw Black Bart.
  • A kind and sympathetic Taylor plays a circuit judge in the Eddie Dean Cinecolor COLORADO SERENADE (PRC, 1946). The storyline is enhanced with the discovery that no-good Dennis Moore is the judge's long lost son who was kidnapped as a youngster and raised by gang boss Warner Richmond.
  • Taylor, as "Father Sullivan", helps Indian Agent Eddie Dean and sidekick Emmett Lynn clean up a gang that is trying to drive Indians off their land in the Cinecolor ROMANCE OF THE WEST (PRC, 1946).
  • Taylor plays another judge in the Eddie Dean Cinecolor CARAVAN TRAIL (PRC, 1946). This time he's on the wrong side of law, employed by crooked saloon owner Robert Barron.

Taylor's stage and film career spanned about sixty years, from approximately 1905 through the early 1960s. Les Adams has him in about 325 sound films and of those, 201 are westerns and 36 are cliffhangers. His credits at Republic Pictures number about 75 for the period 1937-1953 and most are B westerns and serials.

Taylor was good at his craft - he had realistic facial expressions and mannerisms. And he delivered his lines clearly and with appropriate intonation, skills honed from decades on the stage without the benefit of microphones and sound equipment.

In his later years, Forrest Taylor suffered from heart disease. He passed away away from a pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure at the Palm Harbor General Hospital, Garden Grove, California on February 19, 1965.




The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), ProQuest obituaries, death certificate, and funeral notice provide more on Forrest Taylor and family:



There were many traces of Forrest Taylor's father, Chris Taylor, and Chris' son Walter in census and death records as well as trade zines (which are available at the Internet Archive):

Trade publication highlights and quotes:

Census and death records:



Some comments and questions about Forrest Taylor and family:

Some Taylor biographies have him born in Bloomington, Illinois. However, he lists Ellsworth, Illinois on his World War II draft registration as well as the 1906 birth certificate for son Jack. Perhaps he was born in Bloomington but the family home was in Ellsworth. The driving distrance between those two locales is about eighteen miles.

Some Taylor biographies note that his father Christopher Taylor was a newspaperman and hailed from New Jersey. Not so - he was a well known theater owner and manager in Illinois and was born in Pennsylvania.

According to the death certificate, Forrest's mother was Elizabeth Smith (born California). A major issue is that the 1890 census is unavailable. 1900 and 1910 census records indicate that his father Chris Taylor had married a second time circa 1896 to Clara Taylor. Have not found anything on first wife Elizabeth and whether she passed away or they divorced.

Some bios have Forrest serving in the military during World War I. That doesn't seem possible due to his stage work during that period. Plus he responded "No!" to the are you a military veteran question in the 1930 census.

The funeral notice for Forrest lists sons Jack F. Taylor and Forrest Don Taylor, married daughter Jeanne Elizabeth Hall, and a brother, Walter Taylor. I can account for son Jack, daughter Jeanne, and brother Walter. I'm assuming that the Edwin Forrest Taylor, Jr. who was born 1906 in Utah is the son named Forrest Don Taylor in the funeral notice.



  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Forrest Taylor: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0852365/

Family Search has a profile and photo of Ada Daniels (1879-1951): https://familysearch.org/photos/stories/17777951

The Internet Broadway database has several plays during the period 1918 - 1926 with Edwin Taylor: http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=61913

The Internet Broadway database has several 1933-1947 plays listed for Forrest Taylor as both a performer and stage manager. However, this is probably not our B western Forrest Taylor as he was extremely busy doing films circa 1946-1948: http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=61920

Jim Tipton's Find-A-Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for Forrest Taylor at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6079809

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has a webpage on Forrest Taylor doing serials: http://filesofjerryblake.com/serial-character-actors-2/forrest-taylor/

Boyd Magers has a profile on Taylor at his Western Clippings website: http://www.westernclippings.com/heavies/forresttaylor_charactersheavies.shtml

There's about twenty American Film Company titles from 1915-1916 for E. Forrest Taylor at the American Film Company (nicknamed the "Flying A") website which is maintained by the University of California at Santa Barbara. The page includes a small portrait shot of our Forrest Taylor. When you get to this webpage, click on the letter T, and scroll down the listing for E. Forrest Taylor: http://www.filmandmedia.ucsb.edu/flyinga/people/index.html

The University of Washington, J. Willis Sayre Photograph collection, has two circa 1911 photos of stage actor E. Forrest Taylor. One of the photos is clearly our Forrest Taylor. Go to:
http://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/sayre/id/9850/rec/2
http://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/sayre/id/9017/rec/3

The Google Newspaper archive has a couple papers with mentions of Forrest Taylor:
Forrest Taylor Players in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, 1925: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1310&dat=19251028&id=jaxWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=c-gDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5011,4624221&hl=en
1932 article on actress Ada Daniels, former wife of Forrest Taylor: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19320907&id=TtFXAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4vQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=7262,1318170&hl=en

YouTube has a half hour episode of THIS IS THE LIFE from 1953 with Taylor:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGBEEhj9KpY
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh6ZdCzpGbk



Billing himself as "E. Forrest Taylor", Forrest was a prolific stage performer from the early 1900s through the early 1930s. And he did a few silent films.


Above - E. Forrest Taylor and Ada Daniels in Utah in 1913.




Above - E. Forrest Taylor with his own company on the Orpheum Circuit circa 1916 in Idaho. Note that the troupe was doing several plays.



Above - E. Forrest Taylor circa 1920 in Utah. His co-star, Ann Berryman, would become Mrs. Taylor in 1925.



Above - trade ad from late 1915 for Forrest Taylor and Helene Rosson in THE TRAIL OF THE SERPENT, one of the Mustang shorts from the American Film Company and distributed by Mutual. Helene Rosson was the sister of directors Arthur Rosson, Richard Rosson and cinematographer Harold Rosson, and she was married to - and divorced from - Ashton Dearholt (producer of the 1935 THE NEW ADVENTURES OF TARZAN serial that starred Herman Brix/Bruce Bennett).

Forrest's father was a theater owner/operator in Illinois. From the January 8, 1916 issue of Moving Picture World: "Actor's Dad an Exhibitor. Manager Chris Taylor of Dreamland at Kewanee (Illinois) features his son, E. Forrest Taylor, in western pictures every Monday."


(Courtesy of Dana Driskel and the American Film Company website (link above))

Above are Anna Little and a young Forrest Taylor in an unidentified American Film Company silent circa 1916. Taylor would have been about thirty years old when he did this film.


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