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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.

George Chesebro

Full name:
George Newell Chesebro

1888 - 1959

(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)

I've always called George Chesebro the "man of many last names", for the spelling of Chesebro was a difficult assignment for folks preparing credits in opening and closing film titles as well as posters and other advertising.

When he was given credit, you can find his last name spelled Cheesebro, Cheseboro, and lots more variations.  But incorrect spelling was not uncommon (and examples that immediately come to mind are Chief Thunder Cloud, Chief Thunder-Cloud, Chief Thundercloud, Edmond Cobb, Edmund Cobb, Bud Osborne, Bud Osbourne, etc.).

George Newell Chesebro was born July 29, 1888 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He learned acting skills in stock theater and vaudeville. His film career began circa 1915, and in early features and serials, he did bits and minor support in various productions. He also had starring roles in a few outdoorsy silent features and cliffhangers including a half dozen mountie adventures for Milburn Morante. He did serve in the military during World War I, but it's unclear whether he was Army or Navy.

During the 1930s and 1940s he came of age as one of the most prolific of the B western and serial baddies. And he worked at all the major and minor film production outfits, often portraying a gang member and occasionally playing the boss/brains heavy.

I always think of Chesebro as the finest of the weak, shifty-eyed baddies, who had no backbone and would always squeal on his confederates when pummeled by the hero.

Once in a while, he was on the side of the law. For example, in WILD MUSTANG (Ajax, 1935), he's the deputy/helper to star Harry Carey, Sr. Alas - George's name is spelled Cheeseborough in the credits.

And there was the Trucolor TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (Republic, 1950). George is one of the guest stars that come to the aid of Roy Rogers and Jack Holt. I always chuckle when he shows up and is temporarily shunned by the several Republic Pictures movie heroes ... until he says to youngster Carol Nugent that "after making twenty pictures with Jack Holt, he reformed me Honey." By the way, Chesebro introduces himself as "Hi boys ... I'm George Chesebro" - and he pronounces his last name as Cheese bro, not Chez bro. He was about 62 years old when he did ROBIN HOOD.

If you want a musical treat (not!), listen to George sing "Springtime in the Rockies" at about the six minute mark in the 1937 Gene Autry film of the same name.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is Frank McGlynn, Jr. (as George Armstrong Custer), and holding the flag is George Chesebro, in a chapter 15 lobby card from CUSTER'S LAST STAND (Weiss/Stage and Screen, 1936). Chesebro plays a cavalry officer court-martialed for drunkenness and spends most of the serial on the wrong side of the law. Transformed at the end, he dies with Custer at the Little Big Horn.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Steve Clark (middle) tries to break up a brawl between hero Jack Randall and George Chesebro in LAND OF SIX GUNS (Monogram, 1940). The mild-mannered Clark was the "brains heavy" in this film.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are George Chesebro, Bill "Cowboy Rambler" Boyd, Art Davis (with a neck hold on an unknown player), and Lee Powell on the stairs in the title lobby card from ROLLING DOWN THE GREAT DIVIDE (PRC, 1942), one of six films in the short lived Frontier Marshals series.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Cornering Bob Steele are veteran baddies Al Ferguson (left) and George Chesebro (right) in a lobby card from DEATH VALLEY RANGERS (Monogram, 1943). Both Ferguson and Chesebro were born in 1888, and in their early fifties when they appeared in this Trail Blazers western. This was the fourth Trail Blazers film ... and the first with Bob Steele (which made the team a trio versus the earlier Maynard and Gibson duo).

Chesebro's film career spanned about forty years, from about 1915 through the mid 1950s. Les Adams has him in about 400 sound era films.  That number includes 300 westerns and 34 cliffhangers.  His film work at Republic Pictures, from 1935-1953, numbers about 70 movies, mostly westerns and serials.

One of the most familiar B western baddies passed away due to heart failure at his California home on May 28, 1959.

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

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Records database, and the death certificate provide more info on George Chesebro and family. The Chesebro family genealogy website (link further down this webpage) mentions that George's first wife was Dolly Higgins Chesebro but there is no marriage date or any other details. George had a wife named Sophie Gladys Chesebro, but I found no info on Dolly in the census or draft registration records:

The genealogy site on the Chesebro family includes mention of his full name being George Newell Chesebro, date and birthplace of July 29, 1888 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and passed away May 28, 1959 in Los Angeles. Go to the Chesebro website search page, and enter George Chesebro in the last name and first name fields. On the subsequent page, scroll down the list of names in the left side column until you find

Chesebro, George Newell

and click on that. When the search is done, you should find a record for George Chesebro, his wife Dolly Higgins Chesebro, and info on his father (Chesebro, James Fredrick "Fred" (1860 - 1907)); his mother (Grant, Margaret Bell (1861-1917)); and their five children (which includes George).

The search page is at:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Chesebro is interred at the Pacific Crest Cemetery, Redondo Beach, California:

Boyd Magers Western Clippings website has a profile on Chesebro:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has more on George Chesebro doing serials:

Chesebro shows up in a few Three Stooges comedy shorts at Columbia Pictures:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Franklyn Farnum, Bob Custer and George Chesebro mixing it up in a scene from Custer's MARK OF THE SPUR (Big 4, 1932).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Frank Crane, Louise Gabo, a smiling Jack Perrin (billed as "Jack Gable"), Tom Tyler, Roberta Gale, George Chesebro and Tom London in Tyler's MYSTERY RANCH (Reliable, 1934).

(Image courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Lafe McKee, George Chesebro, Jack Perrin, Slim Whitaker, Benny Corbett (on Whitaker's back), and in the background at the desk is Charles K. French. Scene from RIDIN' GENTS (Reliable, 1934), one of the Bud 'n' Ben shorts starring Perrin and Corbett.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are a young Fay McKenzie, hero Buddy Roosevelt, Frances Morris and George Chesebro in BOSS COWBOY (California Motion Picture Enterprises/Superior, 1934). Fay McKenzie is best remembered for her work with Gene Autry at Republic, where she was the feminine interest in DOWN MEXICO WAY (Republic, 1941), SIERRA SUE (Republic, 1941), HOME IN WYOMIN' (Republic, 1942), HEART OF THE RIO GRANDE (Republic, 1942) and COWBOY SERENADE (Republic, 1942).

Courtesy of Boyd Magers)

Above from left to right are George Chesebro, Emmett Vogan, Anderson Lawler, Dick Foran, Tom Brower and Patricia Walthall in a scene from Foran's EMPTY HOLSTERS (Warners, 1937).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, from L-to-R are cowboy star Jack Randall, Kenne Duncan, Glenn Strange, Jack Perrin and George Chesebro.  Carl Mathews is in back with the neckhold on Strange. From Randall's LAND OF SIX GUNS (Monogram, 1940).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from left to right are Dennis Moore, Bud Osborne and George Chesebro in a scene from one of the last of the Range Busters series, COWBOY COMMANDOS (Monogram, 1943). Take a gander at Dennis Moore's unique gunbelt with twin six-shooters - it has buckles on the left and right side, not a single buckle in the center.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Chesebro with Sunset Carson.

(From Old Corral image collection)

In the Roy Rogers "All Star" western, TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (Republic, 1950), Chesebro was able to play a good guy when Roy called on his Hollywood cowboy buddies to lend a hand.

Kneeling from L-to-R: Tom Keene, Roy Rogers, William Farnum.
Back Row from L-to-R: Tom Tyler, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan, Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Monte Hale, George Chesebro, Kermit Maynard.
Not pictured are Jack Holt and Rex Allen.

Chesebro was about 62 years old when he did ROBIN HOOD.

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