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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.


Jack Rockwell - real name: John Rockwell Trowbridge
(From Old Corral image collection)
Jack Rockwell

Real name:
John Rockwell Trowbridge

1890 - 1947

Special thanks to John Rockwell McFarland whose uncles were Jack Rockwell and Charles Trowbridge.
January, 2016: John Rockwell McFarland - your old e-mail address is no longer working. Please e-mail the Old Corral webmeister.
January, 2016: Elaine Radloff is searching for info on the Trowbridge family. Jack Rockwell's wife was Helen Dewey and her real name may have been Bulah Bostwick. If you have info on Helen Dewey / Bulah Bostwick, shoot the Old Corral webmaster an e-mail, and I'll put you in touch with Elaine.


Jack Rockwell was approaching 40 years of age when he arrived in Hollywood in the late 1920s. His steely eyes and surly, snarling, cantankerous demeanor must have impressed the B western and serial directors for they used him in scores of films, generally portraying either a baddie, lawman or ranch owner.

I know he wore various outfits in his screen portrayals ... but the Rockwell "range costume" that is burned into my brain has him wearing that black hat, light colored shirt, tie and vest as shown in the still above. I'm also sure that Rockwell made at least one film appearance where he smiled or laughed ... but I don't recall it.

His first western appearances were at Tiffany and KBS WorldWide with Ken Maynard in the early 1930s. By the 1940s, most of Rockwell's menacing screen persona was lost due to his advancing age.

Les Adams has Rockwell in about 250 sound era films, which includes about 215 westerns and two dozen serials.  Among those 250 films are 55 for Republic Pictures during the period from 1935-1946, and most of those are B westerns.

Rockwell and supporting actor Charles S. Trowbridge (1882-1967) were brothers, and both were born in Mexico. Charles Trowbridge didn't do many westerns, but was a prolific performer in both A and B films, often portraying a lawyer, judge, military officer, scientist ... and he had a great voice as well as a memorable enunciation with his words. I remember him as the Navy Admiral on Bataan who was the commanding officer of John Wayne and Robert Montgomery in John Ford's World War II PT Boat saga, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (MGM, 1945). He was also the archaeologist killed by Tom Tyler (as Kharis) in THE MUMMY'S HAND (Universal, 1940) which starred Dick Foran and Wallace Ford. And he portrayed the governor who wound up as a victim of the MYSTERIOUS DR. SATAN (Republic serial, 1940).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is Jack Rockwell's brother Charles S. Trowbridge as 'Major William Elliott' and being menaced by "The Black Hangman" in the serial, THE ADVENTURES OF THE FLYING CADETS (1943).


Dale Crawford, Jim Sorensen and Richard Alan Silverman discovered more about Rockwell. He was born October 6, 1890 and passed away on November 10, 1947 at the Glendale (California) Sanitarium and Hospital from 'hypostatic pneumonia'. The Rockwell home was on West Windsor Road in Glendale, California. Rockwell's wife, Helen B. Trowbridge, was still living at that Glendale address when she passed away in 1976. They are together in vaultage at the Grandview Memorial Park, Glendale, California. The death certificate shows his name as John Rockwell Trowbridge; his birthplace as Vera Cruz, Mexico; his Mother and Father were Charles Trowbridge of Decatur, Illinois, and Katie Stephens of Pachicca, Mexico; the death certificate also notes that he was a World War I vet.

I did not find an obituary or death notice in ProQuest obituaries or Newspaper Archive.


  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Jack Rockwell and his brother, Charles Trowbridge:
          Jack Rockwell: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0734340/
          His brother Charles Trowbridge: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0873845/

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Rockwell - and wife Helen B. (1900-1976) - are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10024390
And his brother Charles S. Trowbridge is interred at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5438

The Family Search website (free), California Death Index, and death certificate provide more on Jack Rockwell:


(Courtesy of John Rockwell McFarland)

Above are Jack Rockwell's silver spurs. Note the initials JR in gold.




(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Syd Saylor, Verna Hillie, Hal Taliaferro (Wally Wales), Ken Maynard, Jack Cheatham, Al Bridge and Jack Rockwell in the chapterplay, MYSTERY MOUNTAIN (Mascot, 1934). Bridge is in his typical position - getting a stern warning from the hero. This is somewhat typical of scene stills which are staged for the photographer. Thus, a photo is often different than what appears in the film. That's the case with this photo. This is from the beginning of Chapter 6 and Al Bridge is killed with a dart from the Rattler. While Taliaferro and Cheatham are in this still, they do not appear in the actual scene.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Jack Rockwell, H. B. Warner, Ken Maynard, Evalyn Knapp and Kenneth Thomson. The face between Maynard and Warner is William (Bill) McCall. Lobby card from IN OLD SANTA FE (Mascot, 1934). Rockwell appeared in about thirty of Ken Maynard's westerns.



(From Old Corral image collection)

From L-to-R are Wally Wales/Hal Taliaferro, Joan Gale, Tom Mix and Jack Rockwell in a scene from the lengthiest serial ever made, THE MIRACLE RIDER (Mascot, 1935). Chapter 1, "The Vanishing Indian", was on five reels and ran for about 43 minutes. The total running time of the fifteen episodes was about 306 minutes. DICK TRACY was Republic's longest chapterplay, clocking in at a tad under 290 minutes.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Reb Russell has the drop on baddie Jack Rockwell in a lobby card from LIGHTNING TRIGGERS (Kent, 1935), believed to be the last film in Reb's short-lived film career.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Jack Rockwell, Karl Hackett, John Merton, Tim McCoy, Joe Girard and Lafe McKee in a lobby card from LIGHTNIN' BILL CARSON (Puritan, 1936).



(From Old Corral image collection)

In the above lobby card from ROGUE OF THE RANGE (A. W. Hackel/Supreme, 1936), a two-gunned Johnny Mack Brown points an accusing finger at Jack Rockwell.  Thx to Les Adams for help in identifying several of the players - from L-to-R are Tex Palmer, Rockwell, Blackie Whiteford (in purple shirt), Art (Arturo) Felix, unidentified player (behind Brown), Brown and George Ball.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the title lobby card from Charles Starrett's BULLETS FOR RUSTLERS (Columbia, 1940). L-to-R behind the rock are Bob Nolan, Lorna Gray (Adrian Booth) and Jack Rockwell.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a still along with some crops/blowups from the Bill Elliott THE MAN FROM THUNDER RIVER (Republic, 1943). From left to right are Elliott, Roy Brent, Jack Rockwell, Anne Jeffreys, Georgia Cooper, John James and Al Taylor.



(Image courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Douglas Fowley, Lynne Carver, stuntman Ted Mapes (with hat), Steve Clark, Terry Frost (with hat), Johnny Mack Brown, Lynton Brent (partial face), a very old Jack Rockwell (wearing the suit), Tom Quinn and Raymond Hatton in a scene from JMB's DRIFTING ALONG (Monogram, 1946).



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