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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.

(From Old Corral image collection)

(From Old Corral image collection)

(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Richard 'Dick' Alexander

Full name: Richard P. Alexander


Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Dick Alexander arrived in Hollywood in the mid 1920s. Typical of the players during this period, he found some bit parts and walk-ons including a role as a German soldier in ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Universal, 1930).

Tall and with a hefty build, he wound up portraying baddies and henchmen - and sometimes even getting credited. His most prolific period occurred in B westerns and serials during the 1930s and 1940s. In other A and B grade films, he'd turn up in small roles as a longshoreman, barkeep, blacksmith, police officer, jail prisoner, thug, etc.

Though he appeared in lots of cowboy films, he's probably best remembered for his work in serials. Topping the list is Alexander's portrayal of "Prince Barin" in the first two Buster Crabbe FLASH GORDONs at Universal. Some other Dick Alexander cliffhanger roles that come to mind include:

  • he was gang member "Ivan" in THE FIGHTING MARINES (Mascot, 1935).
  • he was Brad "El Lobo" Dace, the evil assistant to Noah Beery Sr. in ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1937).
  • he was the brutal "Thorg" in SOS COAST GUARD (Republic, 1937).

Les Adams has Alexander spotted in about 220 sound era films - that number includes 105 westerns and 23 chapterplays.

When looking through Dick's filmography on the IMDb, I chuckled a bit - there's about ten films in which his screen character was named "Bull" or "Big" ... very appropriate names for Mr. Alexander.

When the horse opera and cliffhanger work ended, Alexander appeared in various 1950s TV shows. He also had a few bit and background parts in some 1950s and 1960s films. His last film appearance was circa 1970, ending a Hollywood career that spanned about forty five years. Couple examples of his later, minor (and uncredited) work:

  • he's a moving man in the Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor FATHER OF THE BRIDE (MGM, 1950).
  • he's a stagehand in one of my favorite musicals, THE BAND WAGON (MGM, 1953).
  • in the opening minutes of THE LONG, LONG TRAILER (MGM, 1953), Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are at a trailer show checking out new trailers. Alexander is doing the same.
Like Roy Barcroft, Harry Woods and Fred Kohler, Sr., Alexander had largeness/bulk. But Roy, Harry and Fred had booming voices which oozed malevolence. I always thought Alexander's dialog delivery was a tad mild and monotone.

Dick Alexander received a Golden Boot Award at the first annual Gold Boot ceremony in 1983.

Married in 1926, Alexander and wife Frances were together for nearly sixty years. In their later years, the couple resided at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, California. Frances passed away there in 1984. Dick had a stroke and various heart problems, and passed away at the Motion Picture Home and Hospital on August 9, 1989.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Dick Alexander:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" website has more details on Dick Alexander doing cliffhangers:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has info that Alexander is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California:

You may want to visit the Golden Boot award webpage on the Old Corral. At the first award ceremony in 1983, Dick Alexander received his Gold Boot award (along with Autry, Lash, Steele, Starrett, Rogers, lots of others).

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Records and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) provide more on Dick Alexander. Appears that Dick's father, John P. Alexander, passed away soon after Dick's birth. His mother Lucy/Lucille Foote Alexander re-married:

  • 1910 census: 4 year old grandson Richard Alexander, 6 year old grandson Harold Alexander ... and I assume that 28 year old widow Lucy Alexander (born Texas) is their mother. They're living with her parents, Robert and Augusta E. Foote in Dallas, Texas:
  • 1920 census: Lucy/Lucille has re-married. Living in Dallas, Texas are 54 year old Edward A. Abbott (born Kansas), his 37 year old wife Lucile [sic] Abbott (born Texas), 17 year old stepson Richard P. Alexander (born Texas) and 16 year old stepson Harold L. Alexander (born Texas):
    Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet: the occupation of stepson Richard P. Alexander is "billing clerk-bank".
  • August 8, 1926 Orange County, California marriage license of 23 year old Richard Alexander (born Dallas, Texas) to 22 year old Frances Smith (born California). This is the first marriage for both. Dick's occupation is "Motion Pictures". His parents were John P. Alexander (born Dallas, Texas) and Lucille Foote (born Dallas, Texas). Her parents were Walter Smith (born California) and Helen Coffin (born Missouri):
  • 1930 census: 27 year old Richard P. Alexander (born Texas) and 26 year old wife Frances L. (born California) reside in the Los Angeles area:
    Ancestry has the 1930 census takers worksheet and Alexander's occupation is "Actor-Motion Picture"; he replied "No" to the are you a veteran question; and they are renting at 4057 Milkisson Street or Wilkisson Street in Los Angeles.
  • Ancestry has California voter registration records, and during the 1930s-early 1940s, the registrations also included an occupation:
    1938 California Voter Registration: Richard P. Alexander (occupation actor) and wife Frances L. are living at 6531 Willoughby, Los Angeles.
    1944 California Voter Registration: Richard P. Alexander (occupation actor) and wife Frances L. are living at 6725 Franklin, Los Angeles. Frances has a job as a taxie [sic] driver.
  • The California Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records for:
    Richard Alexander, born November 18, 1902 in Texas, and he passed away on August 9, 1989 in the Los Angeles area.
    Dick's wife Frances Alexander (maiden name of Smith) was born August 25, 1903 in California, and she passed away July 1, 1984 in the Los Angeles area.

Special thanks to Gary Cullen for the photo right of Dick Alexander and his wife Frances. Gary writes:

My Grandfather, Ed Cullen from Vancouver Canada, took the photo while visiting his brother Bill and wife Artie Cullen in Glendale, California in 1959. I never met Dick myself but met his wife Frances while visiting my aunt Artie in 1965 and again in 1974. Artie and Frances were best friends for decades and Dick and my uncle Bill were good friends as well.

(Photo by Ed Cullen of Vancouver, Canada, 1959)

(Courtesy of Larry Imber)
In the photo left, Larry Imber is visiting Dick Alexander at the Motion Picture Home, Woodland Hills, California in the early 1980s.

Larry adds: "Alexander's wife was also there in another area. He had suffered a stroke which left him unable to talk, but still had a strong reaction to anything I said. When you wanted to take a picture, he would put on a cowboy hat to add to his appearance. If you asked about his off screen life, he handed you a box of snapshots of he and his wife taken around their home. Nice man."

(Courtesy of Rae Malneritch)

Cas and crew shot from an unidentified film with director Noel Mason Smith on the left with the megaphone.

Below is a crop/blowup from the image and there's several familiar faces - kneeling is Dick Alexander and the gal is silent and sound heroine Blanche Mehaffey (sometimes billed as Janet Morgan). Based on Alexander and Mahaffey being in the cast, this still is probably from MARLIE THE KILLER (Pathe, 1928) and the pooch is Klondike.

(Courtesy of Rae Malneritch)

(Image courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Alice Dahl, Tom Tyler, Lafe McKee, Dick Alexander and Slim Whitaker in a still from Tyler's COYOTE TRAILS (Reliable, 1935).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Julian Rivero is the Spanish-garbed gent on the far left. William Desmond and Earl Dwire are in the darkened doorway. Blackie Whiteford is restraining hero Tom Tyler, and Dick Alexander has the butt of his six-shooter aimed at Tyler's head. The heroine is Jean Carmen, who would later change her screen name to Julia Thayer and become the rider of the titled horse in Republic's cliffhanger, THE PAINTED STALLION (Republic, 1937). Prone on the step is Hank Bell, minus his usual moustache. From Tyler's BORN TO BATTLE (Reliable, 1935).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - star John Carroll (probably Yak Canutt doubling for him) in a brawl with Dick Alexander as "El Lobo" in the ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1937) cliffhanger.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Dick Alexander and John Carroll are duking it out in the above lobby card from the 1959 re-release of the chapterplay ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1937).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - cowboy hero Tom Tyler has his mitts on Dick Alexander in a lobby card from MYSTERY RANGE (Victory, 1937), one of the cheapies churned out by Sam Katzman's Victory Pictures. On the left is Milburn Morante and the heroine is Jerry Bergh.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Johnny Mack Brown in a screen brawl with Dick Alexander in a lobby card from BOSS OF BULLION CITY (Universal, 1941).

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