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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.

Roy Barcroft

Real name:
Howard Harold Ravenscroft
(not Howard Clifford Ravenscroft)

1902 - 1969

From July, 1943 through July, 1953, Roy Barcroft was under a term player contract(s) at Republic Pictures. While this offered security and an ongoing paycheck, the contract also allowed the studio to utilize the performer in as many roles and films as they could ... and they used him a lot. His credits at Republic pictures, covering the years 1937-1957, totals around 250 films, mostly of the western and serial variety. Les Adams has Barcroft identified in about 300 sound era films, of which 201 are westerns and 35 are chapterplays.

Barcroft was in his thirties when he settled on an acting career and he began working in Hollywood around 1936. He was a typical supporting and bit player, freelancing wherever he could find work and another payday. Prior to his Republic contract, he did westerns at various studios and production companies, such as Monogram's Rough Riders series of 1941-1942. But it was at Republic Pictures that Barcroft "hit his stride".

In his long run at Republic, Barcroft was generally the chief baddie (the brains heavy). The people with whom he worked noted that his real personality was just the opposite of his screen persona - in real life, he was easy going, a real prankster, and a genuine nice guy.

While many biographies note Barcroft's real name as Howard Clifford Ravenscroft, that information is incorrect. Bobby Copeland has copies of Barcroft's death certificate and Social Security application, and both show his real name as Howard Harold Ravenscroft. Bobby also has some additional details in his book, Roy Barcroft, King of the Badmen: Roy passed away on on November 28, 1969 at the Motion Picture Home and Hospital of kidney cancer; he was survived by his wife Vera Thompson Barcroft, sons Howard and Michael and a daughter (name not identified); and his remains were given to the UCLA School of Medicine and Anatomy for research.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Barcroft was seen frequently in various TV shows such as PERRY MASON, WANTED-DEAD OR ALIVE, more. He was a good guy in the SPIN & MARTY western ranch serial on TV's Mickey Mouse Club, appearing in an ongoing role as "Colonel Jim Logan", the owner of the Triple-R spread. He became "Roy the storekeeper" on GUNSMOKE beginning in 1965, and continued in that role in many of the shows lensed for the 1968-1969 season. He also popped up in some A grade films - an example is Roy wearing a black suit and hat, a string tie, and a badge as "Marshal Cord Elam" in the Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones musical OKLAHOMA (20th Century Fox, 1955).

Of all the supporting players in westerns and cliffhangers, most fans fondly recall Roy Barcroft and consider him as the "best of the B-western baddies".

Gary L. Currington sent an e-mail in November, 2007 with his remembrance of a chance encounter with Roy Barcroft. Gary writes:

"... in 1959, when I was a 19 year old college student working as a desk clerk at Old Faithful Campers Cabins in Yellowstone National Park, I registered Roy and his family for a one night stay in an unfurnished cabin - no indoor plumbing, wood stove, and bring your own bed linens for $2.75 a night. When I recognized his name, I asked if he was the Roy Barcroft of B movie western fame, the proverbial bad guy. He seemed surprised that he was recognized. We had a nice but brief conversation ... and like an idiot, I failed to ask for an autograph."

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

There's a lengthy biography and lots of photos of Roy Barcroft at Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website:

There's images and info about Barcroft and the SPIN AND MARTY TV series at:

The Family Search website, California Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) provide additional information on Roy Barcroft:

Noted singer and voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft is sometimes mentioned as the brother of Roy Barcroft. Not so. Thurl and Roy were cousins. Thurl did a lot of voice work but is best remembered for mouthing Tony the Tiger's "They're grrreat!" in Kellogg's Frosted Flakes commercials. He was born in Nebraska in 1914 to Arthur and Blanche Ravenscroft:
Thurl's biography:

(Courtesy of Gregory R. Jackson, Jr.)
(Courtesy of Gregory R. Jackson, Jr.)

Above is Roy Barcroft, grey and bearded, 1960s photo.

(From Old Corral image collection)
From July, 1943 through July, 1953, Roy Barcroft was under a term player contract(s) at Republic Pictures.

During that period, Barcroft had several meaty cliffhanger roles - he was the titled villain in THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES (Republic, 1945), the evil "Captain Mephisto" in MANHUNT OF MYSTERY ISLAND (Republic, 1945), and "Retik" in RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON (Republic, 1952).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Jean Carmen, James Newill, Milburn Stone, and Roy Barcroft in a scene from CRASHING THROUGH (Monogram, 1939), one of the 'Renfrew of the Mounted' northwoods adventures. On the stairs, and about to deliver a crushin' blow to Jim Newill's noggin, is Iron Eyes Cody. Jean Carmen's most remembered role was as the rider of the paint horse in the Republic serial, THE PAINTED STALLION (1937), in which she was billed as Julia Thayer. In later life, Milburn Stone became 'Doc' on TV's long running GUNSMOKE.

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - Hopalong Cassidy has the drop on three nasties. From left to right are John Merton, Roy Barcroft, Bob Kortman and William Boyd in a still from RENEGADE TRAIL (Harry Sherman Prod/Paramount, 1939).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - two of western film's greatest bad guys, Roy Barcroft (left with white hat) and Harry Woods (wearing a suit), listen in as Buck Jones chats with Tim McCoy in WEST OF THE LAW (Monogram, 1942), one of the Rough Riders series.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Bill Elliott, George 'Slim' Summerville, Roy Barcroft, and Robert Fiske in a scene from Elliott's third (and last) serial, THE VALLEY OF VANISHING MEN (Columbia, 1942). A year or so later, both Elliott and Barcroft would be under contract to Republic Pictures.

(From Old Corral image collection)

From L-to-R are Robert 'Bobby' Blake as Little Beaver, Roy Barcroft, Jack Kirk, Tom London and Bill Elliott in a lobby card from CHEYENNE WILDCAT (Republic, 1944), one of the Red Ryder adventures.

Courtesy of Boyd Magers)

Above from left to right are Douglas Fowley, Emmett Vogan, Roy Rogers and Roy Barcroft in a 1954 blue duotone re-release lobby card from ALONG THE NAVAJO TRAIL (Republic, 1945). Fowley and Barcroft report to Vogan who is the president of an oil drilling company that needs Dale Evans' ranch for a pipeline.

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

Above - Ken Curtis attends to Gene Roth (Gene Stutenroth) while Roy Barcroft looks on. There are several unidentified players in the background - in the center, with checkerboard shirt and hands hanging at his side is an older Chick Hannan. From the chapterplay, DON DAREDEVIL RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1951).

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