|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.|
(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
(sometimes spelled Glen Strange)
Glenn George Strange
George Glenn Strange
"Peewee" or "Pee Wee"
1899 - 1973
Glenn Strange is one of the most recognized of the B western baddies and character players.
(From Old Corral image collection)Glenn Strange - circa 1940 (From Old Corral image collection)
Above - Glenn Strange as "Sam Noonan", the Long Branch saloon bartender, on TV's GUNSMOKE.
He was born in Weed, New Mexico on August 16, 1899, but was raised in Cross Cut, Texas. He learned to play fiddle and guitar by ear and performed at local dances.
In the late 1920s, Strange and his cousin, Taylor Curtis 'Cactus Mack' McPeters, joined a group of singing cowboys called the 'Arizona Wranglers'. They worked on tour and on radio all around the country. The group ended up in Hollywood and from there Strange and Cactus Mack began working in pictures, and Strange's first film work was circa 1930.
Strange was also a talented songwriter and singer, and was a close pal to singin' cowboy Eddie Dean. Dean and Strange collaborated on various tunes - an example is their opening title song for Dean's TUMBLEWEED TRAIL (PRC, 1946).
Minard Coons noted that in one of his conversations with Eddie Dean, that Dean had mentioned that he (Dean) and Strange would write tunes on the bus ride to location shootings. In an interview in 1975, singing cowboy Eddie Dean talked about his friend, Glenn Strange ... he and Strange were hunting and fishing buddies ... Glenn liked to cook ... he was a terrific guy ... when Dean had his starring series at PRC in the 1940s, he wanted Strange in the cast, but the producer said "nope - Glenn Strange is just too tall!". Another of Strange's buddies was Republic Pictures bad guy Roy Barcroft.
In the late 1930s, Strange briefly played sidekick "Pee Wee" to melodious Dick Foran in his Warner's westerns. One of his meatiest roles was as "Tex", one of Dick Foran's Riders (along with Buck Jones, Leo Carrillo, Noah Beery, Jr. and Big Boy Williams) in Universal's 15 chapter RIDERS OF DEATH VALLEY (Universal, 1941).
His height was about 6' 3" or so and he towered over everyone else in the scene. That height probably got him to Universal Pictures where he played the Frankenstein monster on three occasions, including onr og my favorites, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (Universal, 1948).
As the B western faded, Strange migrated to TV work. He was "Butch Cavendish", the outlaw gang leader that bushwhacks the Texas Rangers in the opening three-parter of the LONE RANGER TV show. Later, he portrayed "Sam Noonan", the Long Branch saloon barkeep, on television's GUNSMOKE from 1962 until shortly before his death from lung cancer in 1973.
Les Adams has Strange identified in 250+ sound era films - that includes 215 westerns and a half dozen serials. And there's more on Glenn Strange's involvement with the singing groups The Arizona Wranglers, The Range Riders and The Radio Buckaroos in the Singers-Musicians-Groups section on the Old Corral.
He passed away from lung cancer on September 20, 1973 at St. Joseph Hospital, Burbank, California. At the Memorial Service, Eddie Dean sang and the eulogy was delivered by John Mantley (1920-2003), executive producer of the GUNSMOKE TV show.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Glenn Strange: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0833363/
Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website has a profile on Glenn Strange, which includes an interview: http://www.westernclippings.com/heavies/glennstrange_charactersheavies.shtml
Jim Tipton's Find-A-Grave site has a photo of Strange's grave marker at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=4340
Strange was a member of various singing groups ... including the Arizona Wranglers, Range Riders, Radio Buckaroos, Wranglers, Texas Cow Town Boys and Girls, more group variations. Some appeared in the B westerns and most did radio and personal appearances. Click HERE and a separate window will open with an Old Corral webpage showing various singing/musical groups which included Glenn Strange.
The BMI Broadcast Music, Inc. website has a search function where you can check the tunes authored/co-authored by Glenn Strange. When you get to the BMI search page, enter "Strange" in the name box, select "Songwriter/Composer", and then click on the search. Go to: http://repertoire.bmi.com/startpage.asp
You should find several name variations in the listing including "Strange G", "Strange Glen", etc. listed and some of his song writing credits include "On The Banks Of The Sunny San Juan" (Banks of the Old Rio Grande) by Strange and Eddie Dean, and "My Tumbleweed Trail" by Strange and Dean.
Norris Chambers mentions Glenn Strange and Cactus Mack McPeters in his Brief History of Crosscut, Texas: http://www.norrisc.com/crosscut/xcut.html
The National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD 57069 has a Ray Whitley Custom Gibson "party guitar" which was originally owned by Ray Whitley and later, by Glenn Strange. Photos and info can be found at: http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/PluckedStrings/Guitars/Gibson/5991/WhitleyGuitar.html
Margie's Chuck Connors' THE RIFLEMAN website includes some images of Strange guesting on the Chuck Connors TV series: http://www.riflemanconnors.com/glenn_strange.htm
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Index and the death certificate provide more about Glenn Strange and family:
- 1900 census - William R. Strange and Sarah E. Strange and children Lennie, Shirley and 1 year old George A. L. Strange (born New Mexico) are living in Justice Precinct 4, McCulloch County, Texas: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M3P6-Y47
1900 census takers worksheet - William and Sarah have been married about 10 years and had 4 children, 3 of which are living. They are renting and father William's occupation is "farmer".
- 1910 census - 10 year old George G. Strange (born New Mexico) is living with his family in Justice Precinct 8, Brown County, Texas. Parents are W. R. Strange and Sarah E. Strange: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M29X-9JC
Ancestry had the 1910 census takers worksheet - 39 year old W. R. Strange's occupation is "Farmer - Farm Labor". 39 year old Sarah E.'s occupation is "House work - House farm". They have been married for 18 years; this is his first marriage and her second; they've had 6 children, 5 of which are still living. 10 year old George G. has an occupation of "Farmer - Farm Labor".
- World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 - Glenn George Strange was born August 16, 1899; home is Stuart, Hughes County, Oklahoma; occupation is "Farming"; and nearest relative is father W. R. Strange: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-25078-18999-26?cc=1968530
- 1920 census - 20 year old George Strange is single and living with his parents in Texas, Cotton County, Oklahoma: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MN14-33M
Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet - 49 year old William Strange's occupation is "Farming" and son George is a "Farm Hand". Living next door to the Strange farm are farmer Charles E. Hooper, wife Ruth, and two daughters, one of which is 15 year old Flora. She and Glenn would marry in April, 1920.
- Several family trees on Ancestry.com have George Glen/Glenn Strange marrying Flora Eola/Ella Hooper on April 29, 1920 in Hastings, Cotton County, Oklahoma. Several of the Ancestry family trees have the marriage license application and Flora's middle name is Eola (not Ella).
- 1940 census - Glenn G. Strange, wife Minni P. (probably Minnie) and daughter Janine L. are residing in the home of Strange's in-laws, Henry A. Thompson and Blanche M. Thompson, in Glendale California: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K97L-516
1940 census takers worksheet - Strange's occupation is "Actor - Motion Picture", and in 1939, he worked 52 weeks and earned $3100.00: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27792-2116-60?cc=2000219&wc=MMYH-XCK:2022337348
- Death certificate - 74 year old Glenn George Strange, AKA George Glenn Strange, passed away from lung cancer on September 20, 1973 at St. Joseph Hospital, Burbank, California. Born August 16, 1899 in New Mexico; parents were William R. Strange and Sarah E. Byrd; and his occupation was "Actor - C. B. S. Television". Death certificate informant was wife Min T. Strange, and they lived at 926 East Valencia Street, Burbank. Funeral director was Forest Lawn and burial at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California.
- The California Death Index has dual records, one for Glenn G. Strange and the other for George G. Strange. Both have a birthplace and date of New Mexico and 8/16/1899, and he passed away on 9/20/1973.
As noted in the census data, Strange was married to Minni (probably Minnie) P. Thompson, and that pairing occurred in the mid 1930s and continued through his passing in 1973. There are two genealogy websites with more on Glenn and family, including two earlier marriages:
|(Courtesy of Herb Stokes)
Above is the Arizona Wranglers musical group plus others in a still from STORMY (Universal, 1935).
From L-to-R in the backrow (standing) are: Johnny Luther (nickname: "Arkansas" Johnny), unidentified man in suit, unidentified woman, Calvin Short (or Shorts) playing harmonica (nickname: "Sleepy"), unidentified man and woman.
From L-to-R in the front row (seated): Glenn Strange (nickname: "Pee Wee"), Charles Hunter (nickname: "Iron Tail"), John Jackson (nickname: "Stony" or "Stoney"), Laverne F. Costello (nickname: "Slicker"), Curtis McPeters (nickname: "Cactus Mack").
(Courtesy of Jack Jones)
The July 29, 1935 Call Bureau cast listing for STORMY (Universal, 1935) included the names of the Arizona Wranglers members (note the incorrect spellings on several names).
(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)
From left to right are Charlie/Charley Sargent, Jack Kirk, John Wayne, Cactus Mack McPeters, Chuck Baldra and Glenn Strange in a scene from Wayne's WESTWARD HO (Republic, 1935). On the far right is the non-singing Tex Palmer. In the film's opening titles, Glenn Strange is credited and "the Singing Riders" is listed under Strange's name. These "guys in black shirts" did double duty as singers as well as members of the "Singing Riders" who rode white horses and assisted Wayne. Below are crops/blowups showing the faces in more detail.
Below: Charlie/Charley Sargent, Jack Kirk, John Wayne, Cactus Mack McPeters.Above: Chuck Baldra, Glenn Strange, and non-singing Tex Palmer.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above - Lee 'Lone Ranger' Powell and Charles 'Slim' Whitaker are about ready to jump this quartet of no-goods in ROLLING DOWN THE GREAT DIVIDE (PRC, 1942), one of the Frontier Marshals trio series. Unaware of their pending doom, the four baddies are, from left to right: Rex Lease, Charlie King, Eddie Dean and Glenn Strange. Note the lineup as being shortest to tallest - and check the height of Glenn Strange vs. Rex Lease.
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above - Tex Ritter has the drop on big Glenn Strange in a lobby card from PALS OF THE SILVER SAGE (Monogram, 1940). Strange is about a head taller than Tex.
(Courtesy of Joel Towler) |Left are Glenn Strange and Joel Towler at the annual Chuck Wagon Trailers barbeque in Hansen Dam Park in Pacoima, California, circa 1964. Buddy Roosevelt was behind the camera.|
And the man wearing the tan jacket on the far left is B-western henchie Tom Smith, who often wore a big handlebar moustache and a tall, round top hat.
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above is Glenn Strange reading the comics and relaxing at the makeup table as he preps for another day of playing the Frankenstein monster.
| |(From Old Corral image collection)
Above is a scene from ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948). From L-to-R are Strange as the Frankenstein monster, Lenore Aubert as the villainess and Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula.
Strange portrayed the monster in three films: HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Universal, 1944), HOUSE OF DRACULA (Universal, 1945) and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (Universal, 1948).