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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)
Tristram 'Tris' Coffin

Real name:
Tristram Chalkley Coffin

1909 - 1990


One of the most recognized of the smart, slick and slippery 'boss' villains is Tristram 'Tris' Coffin, and his film career began around 1939.  He did about 125 films, of which 55 were westerns and 14 were chapterplays.  His work at Republic Pictures amounted to about 35 films during a period from 1939-1957, and these were a mix of oaters, cliffhangers and some other films.  At Monogram, he did about three dozen movies, mostly B westerns, from about 1939-1951.

He often portrayed a gangster, gambler or spy, and you can see him in some meaty roles in Republic and Columbia cliffhangers such as HOLT OF THE SECRET SERVICE, SPY SMASHER, THE PERILS OF NYOKA and FEDERAL AGENTS VS. UNDERWORLD, INC.

As the B western and serial faded, Coffin moved to TV and appeared in numerous shows during the 1950s and 1960s, including I LOVE LUCY, SUPERMAN, WILD BILL HICKOK, CISCO KID, and lots more.

Occasionally, Coffin was allowed to portray a hero ... and he did a respectable job.  He had the lead as "Jeff King" in Republic's 1949 cliffhanger KING OF THE ROCKETMEN. And he was "Captain Tom Rynning" in the 26 MEN TV series of the mid 1950s which co-starred Kelo Henderson and was churned out by Russell Hayden's production company.  Also among his TV jobs was the role of "Captain Reid", the Texas Ranger brother of the Lone Ranger, who gets gunned down by Butch Cavendish (Glenn Strange) and his gang in the series opener titled "Enter the Lone Ranger".



(From Old Corral image collection)


While I do recall Coffin's western roles, my mental image of him is always with greying hair and moustache and wearing a suit or tuxedo.  And he had a great voice.

Go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral.  The California Death Records database as well as the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records on Tristram Chalkley Coffin --- his birthplace and birthdate was Utah and 8/13/1909, and he passed away on 3/26/1990.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Tris Coffin: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0168939/

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Coffin was cremated and his ashes scattered: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=11692630




(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Christine Larsen/Larson, Tris Coffin, Andy Clyde, Whip Wilson and Steve Darrell in CRASHING THRU (Monogram, 1949), Wilson's first starring film.


(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above and below, Tris Coffin at one of the 1970s film conventions.  The photo below shows some good natured hijinks between three cowboy and serial bad guys --- Coffin is about to pummel Terry Frost, while a smilin' George J. Lewis looks on.


(Courtesy of Minard Coons)



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