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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.

Edmund Cobb

Real name:
Edmund Fessenden Cobb

1892 - 1974

First name variations:
Edward, Edmond,
Ed, Eddie, Edwin,

Above - Edmund Cobb circa 1935 and wearing his normal dour, "sourpuss" face.

Edmund Fessenden Cobb was born June 23, 1892 in Albuquerque, New Mexico Territory.

His cinema career began around 1910 with some roles in Biograph and Lubin movies shot in New Mexico. Circa 1915, he was in Hollywood doing bit parts and supporting roles in various silent films. In the 1920s, he even starred for Arrow Pictures, Universal and others in some silent westerns, a few serials, and a series of two-reel "Forest Ranger" adventures.

To most of us, Edmund Cobb was not hero material but is best remembered in scores of westerns and serials beginning in the early 1930s. While he occasionally played the boss/brains heavy, he was most often a henchman or second-in-command ... and sometimes a lawman, townsman, rancher, stage/wagon driver, etc. His movie and TV career spanned over fifty years, from circa 1910 though the mid 1960s. He often had lots of dialog and screen time and was billed. In some films, he was only on screen for a moment in an uncredited role.

He starred in two bottom-of-the-barrel sound westerns. He had the lead in the ultra low budget oater RACKETEER ROUND-UP (Aywon, 1934) which was probably helmed by Robert J. Horner (using the name Robert Hoyt). About a year later, the film was re-released as GUNNERS AND GUNS (Beaumont, 1935). Cobb also attempted a hero role in the dreadful Victor Adamson/Art Mix Production, THE RAWHIDE TERROR (Security, 1934).

Looking back at his sound western filmography, it's interesting to examine where and with whom he worked: he appeared in nearly four dozen Charles Starretts at Columbia Pictures; there were fifteen Bill Elliott oaters at Columbia and Republic; nearly two dozen with Johnny Mack Brown at Universal and Monogram; ten with Tim McCoy; ten with Ken Maynard; a half dozen with Buck Jones; five with Tom Mix at Universal; a quartet of the Dick Foran westerns for Warners; and at Republic Pictures with Roy Rogers (in 5), Gene Autry (in 3), Sunset Carson (in 7), and Allan Lane (in 9). And Cobb was in lots of cliffhangers that starred cowboy heroes. Examples: he did four with Tom Tyler; two with Buck Jones; and one each with Maynard, Elliott, Johnny Mack Brown, Allan Lane, Bob Custer, Tom Keene (Richard Powers) and Tom Mix.

Conversely, you won't find Edmund Cobb in any Hopalong Cassidys, nor series westerns with George O'Brien, Lash LaRue, Eddie Dean, the Rough Riders or Texas Rangers. He only worked in one of Monogram's Range Busters, one Whip Wilson at Monogram, and one with Tim Holt at RKO. He was in a single John Wayne Warners westerns but none of the Wayne Lone Star/Monograms. And I was surprised that Ed never worked with Buster Crabbe in any cliffhangers or the Crabbe and Fuzzy St. John Billy the Kid/Billy Carson series for Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC).

Following are a few examples of memorable Ed Cobb performances in B westerns and serials:

He also did lots of other film work, and can be seen in minor roles in the CHARLIE CHAN, FALCON and MA & PA KETTLE film series and a few of the Three Stooges comedy shorts at Columbia Pictures. He even had a bit in Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE. You'll also be able to spot Cobb in some early TV westerns such as WILD BILL HICKOK, THE LONE RANGER, RANGE RIDER, more.

Les Adams has him in 460+ sound films - of that total, 246 are westerns and 61 are cliffhangers. He appeared in about 100 films at Republic Pictures from 1936-1956, and most were serials and oaters. His work in silents - as a bit/supporting player or star - is a work in progress since many of the films are lost.

In later years, he suffered from heart problems and passed away on August 15, 1974 at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, Woodland Hills, California. His second wife Vivian was also at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital and passed about three weeks prior to Ed.

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

Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website has a profile on Edmund Cobb:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has lots of details on Edmund Cobb in cliffhangers:

Cobb did a few Columbia shorts with the Three Stooges:

The Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives has a circa 1914 photo of Edmund Cobb and Slim Freeman in costume for Rio Grande Motion Picture Company film, Albuquerque, New Mexico:

Grapevine Video has four of Cobb's silent starring films:

On the trail of Edmund Cobb

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), and the death certificate provide more on Edmund Cobb and family:

  • 1900 census: living in Albuquerque, New Mexico Territory are 40 year old William H. Cobb (born New York), his 37 year old wife Eddie R. Cobb (born Kansas), 8 year old son Edmund F. (born New Mexico), 6 year old daughter Susan R. (born New Mexico), and 2 year old daughter Daphney M. (born New Mexico):
    The census takers worksheet has father William's occupation as "photograph" and son Edmund is "at school":
  • 1910 census - living in San Jose, Bernalillo County, New Mexico are 39 year old mother Eddie Ross Cobb (born Kansas; widowed), her 18 year old son Edmond (born New Mexico), 16 year old daughter Susan (born New Mexico), 12 year old daughter Daphne (born New Mexico), 9 year old son Wilfred (born New Mexico), and a hired man:
  • 1914 marriage record (not the license) of 22 year old Edmund F. Cobb to 20 year old Helen Marie Hays [sic] in Colorado Springs, Colorado:
  • Cook County, Illinois birth record for daughter Eddie Marie Cobb, born September 26, 1915, to Edmund Fesenden [sic] Cobb (born about 1892 in New Mexico) and Helen Marie Hayes (born about 1894 in Tennessee):
  • World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917 - 24 year old Edmund Fessenden Cobb was born June 23, 1892 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is married with one child; occupation self employed farmer; and they reside in Albuquerque. The registration notes that Cobb "claims he is affected with heart trouble":
  • 1920 census - 27 year old Edmund F. Cobb (born New Mexico) and his 24 year old wife Helen M. (born Tennessee) are living in Denver, Colorado:
    Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet - Edmund and wife Helen are renting at a hotel or rooming house in Denver, Colorado. Their occupations are "Actor/Actress - Motion pictures".
    While Edmund and Helen were in Colorado for the 1920 census, 4 year old daughter Eddie M. Cobb was living in North Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee with Helen's parents, Charles F and Martha Hayes:
  • 1930 census - 37 year old Edmund F. Cobb (born Mexico; divorced) and his 14 year old daughter Eddie M. (born Illinois) are living in Los Angeles, California:
    Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet - Edmund and daughter Eddie are renting at 1612 North Alexandria Avenue, Los Angeles. He was not a veteran and his occupation is "Artist - Motion picture studio".
  • 1940 census - 47 year old Edmund F. Cobb (born New Mexico) and his 46 year old wife Vivian Marie (born Wisconsin) are living in the Los Angeles area:
    1940 census takers worksheet - Edmund and Vivian are renting; his occupation is "Actor - Motion Picture Production", and in 1939, he worked 26 weeks and earned $3154.00:
    (There's a few other interesting names on this census sheet - living next door to the Cobbs is rough and tough actor Joe McGuinn and his wife; and about a block away is Lon Chaney, Jr. and his wife.)
  • World War II draft registration - 49 year old Edmund Fessenden Cobb was born June 23, 1892 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His contact is wife Vivian M. Cobb, and they live at 11150 La Maida Street, North Hollywood, California. His occupation is "Actor - free lance - various studios":
  • Death certificate: 82 year old Edmund Cobb passed away on August 15, 1974 at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, Woodland Hills, California. He was born June 23, 1892 in New Mexico; he was a widower; parents were William H. Cobb (born New York) and Eddie Ross (born Kansas); home address was 12500 Huston Street, North Hollywood, California; and occupation was "Actor - free lance - motion picture". Cause of death was pneumonia, heart disease and congestive heart failure; funeral director was Pierce Brothers - Hollywood and burial at Valhalla; and death certificate informant was Motion Picture Relief.
  • Go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral. The California Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records on Edmund Cobb - his birth date and location is June 23, 1892 in New Mexico, and he passed away on August 15, 1974. The California Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records on Ed's wife Vivian Cobb - she was born January 16, 1894 in Wisconsin and passed away on July 26, 1974.

Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California, Block G, Section 6910, Lot 5.
(Courtesy of Dale Crawford & Jim Sorensen)

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has another picture of the grave marker for Edmund Cobb who is interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California:

More on Edmund Cobb and Cobb family genealogy

(Courtesy of the S. J. P. Collection)
For several years, Mary Toluchanian and ye Old Corral webmaster have exchanged e-mails about Edmund Cobb and family. Mary is a second cousin, twice removed, of Edmund Cobb. She has done a considerable amount of genealogical research into the family of her second great-grandfather, William Wallace Ross, and his brother, Edmund Gibson Ross, grandfather of Edmund Cobb.

Special thanks to Mary for the information and the photo left of Edmund Cobb as a youngster.  The following is a consolidation of several e-mails from Mary:

Edmund Fessenden Cobb was born June 23, 1892, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to William Henry Cobb and his wife, Edwinna (Eddie) Ross. Edmund F. Cobb's grandfather, Edmund Gibson Ross, served as Governor of the Territory of New Mexico (1885-1889) and was the Senator from Kansas who many contend cast the pivotal vote for acquittal in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in May, 1868.

The photo archive collection at the Museum of New Mexico, Palace of the Governors, has some photographs of Edmund F. Cobb (some possibly from the Cobb Studio, his parents' photography studio in Albuquerque), including one of him taken in December 1911 in cowboy attire and another in a Civil War uniform.

Edmund Cobb's siblings, Susan Ross Cobb, Daphne M. Cobb, and Wilfred B. Cobb remained in Albuquerque, but several Ross cousins resided in California. May Ross, first cousin of Edmund F. Cobb's mother, was married to Meredith Pinxton Snyder (1859-1937), the first Mayor of Los Angeles to be elected to the office four times, his first term beginning in 1896 and his last term ending in 1921.

Edmund Fessenden Cobb's first wife was Helen M. Hayes, daughter of Charles T. Hayes and Martha B. Marshall. Helen was born June 1893, in Tennessee, and died of tuberculosis about 1932 when her daughter, Eddie, was about 17 years old. Edmund and Helen had married about 1914 and had one daughter, Eddie Marie Cobb, who was born in Illinois in 1915. Edmund and Helen appeared in at least two movies together, A RODEO MIXUP and RIDERS OF THE RANGE. Edmund and Helen were enumerated in Denver, Colorado, on the 1920 census and gave their occupations respectively as, "Actor" and "Actress" in "Motion Pictures", but Edmund's and Helen's daughter, Eddie Marie Cobb, was living with Helen's parents in Third Civil District, North Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, in 1920. (Helen was enumerated in Third Civil District, Hamilton County, Tennessee, with her parents and siblings on the 1900 census, so the family apparently stayed in that area.)

Edmund and Helen divorced around 1925-1927 when their daughter, Eddie, was about 10 or 12 years old, and they both remarried. Helen M. (Hayes) Cobb married as her second husband, a Mr. Jackson, and Edmund Fessenden Cobb married as his second wife, Vivian Marie Winter, daughter of Marshall Banker Winter and Henrietta Hollenbeck.

Vivian, Edmund F. Cobb's second wife, was born in Wisconsin, January 16, 1894, and died at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, July 26, 1974. Edmund F. Cobb died there as well, barely three weeks later on August 15, 1974.

The University of New Mexico Libraries hosts the New Mexico Digital Collections which includes some photos from William H. Cobb and his Cobb photographic studio:!nusbaum!acpa!pinhole!parkhurst/searchterm/william%20h.%20cobb/order/title

Edmund Cobb - doing hero and character roles in silents

May 16, 1914 issue of MOTOGRAPHY: "Edwin F. Cobb, formerly with Lubin under the direction of Romaine Fielding, has joined the Colorado Motion Picture company forces at Canon City ..."

Above - Cobb's bio from 1921 Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual (which is available at the Internet Archive). Note that he was with the Superior Foto-Play Company in Colorado. Edmund and wife Helen were in Denver, Colorado for the 1920 census.

Above - a 1924 newspaper theater ad for Cobb starring in AT DEVIL'S GORGE (Arrow, 1923).

Above is a 1923 newspaper theater ad for Cobb starring in RIDERS OF THE RANGE (Art-O-Graf, 1923). His wife Helen Hayes was also in the film but not as the heroine.

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Above - an arcade card during Cobb's silent film period when he did hero roles. And he's smiling!

(Courtesy of Bart Romans)

Above is an exhibitor/vending card showing a very young Edmund Cobb, circa mid to late 1920s. The Ex. Sup. Co., U.S.A. marking stands for the Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago, a firm which manufactured vending machine novelties from around 1901 to the mid-1960s. It went out of business around 1979. The "Capturing a Bad Man" in the lower left is not a film title. Does Cobb have the drop on 1930s baddie Roger Williams?

Above is a crop from a June, 1925 Universal tradepaper ad for their Mustang two reel shorts. The Mustang stars and featured players were Edmund Cobb, Jack Mower, "Smiley" Corbett (that's Benny Corbett), Fred Humes and "Pee Wee" Holmes.

(Image courtesy of Jay Wilsey's granddaughter and
daughter, Tamera Mankini and Frances Eldene Wolski)

Above is a still from the lost/missing silent serial, A FINAL RECKONING (Universal, 1928). Left to right are hero Buffalo Bill Jr. (Jay Wilsey), Edmund Cobb and Newton House. Newton House (1911 - 1987) was about sixteen years old when he worked in this cliffhanger. Universal had him doing other silents and billed him as the "Champion Boy Rider". House was a competitor to another youthful range rider, Buzz Barton.

Ed Cobb's last hurrah as a hero,
in two poor quality sound westerns

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a photo of the title lobby card for THE RAWHIDE TERROR (Security, 1934). Note the "Victor Adamson Presents an Art Mix Production", and a photo of Adamson/Dixon is shown in the upper left. Edmund Cobb (shown center) was kinda the star, even though he's listed second. Also acting as the hero was George Kesterson/Art Mix but he kinda disappears. Bill Patton (moustached, wearing dark shirt, gloves, jacket) is to the left of heroine Frances Morris. Scuttlebutt was that THE RAWHIDE TERROR was originally planned as a serial, but never came to fruition. Thus, when Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon slapped this together as a feature, continuity and logic were lost.

You can view/download the public domain THE RAWHIDE TERROR (Security, 1934) from YouTube or the Internet Archive:
Internet Archive:[]=%22rawhide%20terror%22

(Courtesy of Les Adams)
A few minutes of Black King, "the horse with the human brain", was added to RACKETEER ROUND-UP (Aywon, 1934) and released by the short-lived Beaumont Pictures as GUNNERS AND GUNS (Beaumont, 1935).

On the left is a 1935 ad for the Beaumont version.

Note the spelling errors with Cobb being billed as 'Edwin'. And Frank Walker is big, burly Francis Walker.

Cobb doing villain and character/support
roles in sound B westerns and serials

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a lobby card from the lost/missing RIDERS OF GOLDEN GULCH (Robert J. Horner / West Coast Studios, 1932). Below that is a crop showing from left to right, Yakima Canutt, Edmund Cobb, Buffalo Bill Jr. (Jay Wilsey) and an unidentified player on the ground.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Bob Custer is the hero roughing up Ed Cobb in this lobby card from the chapterplay, LAW OF THE WILD (Mascot, 1934).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Tommy Bupp, Lois January, Reb Russell, and on horseback is Edmund Cobb.  From Reb's ARIZONA BAD MAN (Willis Kent, 1935).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Edmund Cobb, Reb Russell and Yvonne Pelletier in Reb's LIGHTNING TRIGGERS (Willis Kent, 1935).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Max Terhune has the quartet of baddies down to their long johns in this still from the Three Mesquiteers adventure WILD HORSE RODEO (Republic, 1937). From L-to-R are Henry Isabell, Edmund Cobb, Jack Ingram and Art Dillard.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Hank Bell, Charles Starrett, Kenneth MacDonald, Iris Meredith and Ed Cobb in SPOILERS OF THE RANGE (Columbia, 1939).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are bartender Ethan Laidlaw, Starrett, Forbes Murray, Edward LeSaint, Edmund Cobb and Edward Peil in a still from Starrett's SPOILERS OF THE RANGE (Columbia, 1939).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Ed Cobb has the drop on Tex Ritter and Eileen O'Hearn in THE DEVIL'S TRAIL (Columbia, 1942).

(From Old Corral image collection)

From left to right are Roy Barcroft, Edmund Cobb and Allan Lane in a lobby card from OREGON TRAIL SCOUTS (Republic, 1947). This was Allan Lane's fifth (of seven) Red Ryder films, and the story tells how Little Beaver (Bobby Blake) came to be Red's sidekick.

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