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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.

Le Roy Franklin Mason
(From Old Corral image collection)
Mason - clean shaven

Le Roy Franklin Mason
(From Old Corral image collection)
Mason - with a mustache
Le Roy Franklin Mason

1903 - 1947

First name variations: Leroy, Le Roy, Roy

Le Roy Mason began his 20+ year Hollywood career in the mid 1920s doing support/character parts as well as a few leading man roles at the tail end of the silent era. Some of his earliest movie work occurred in the Tom Tyler silent westerns for FBO (Film Booking Office). In 1928, he married actress Rita Carewe, the daughter of silent era producer, director and actor Edwin Carewe.

In sound films, Mason became typecast as a screen bad guy, sometimes clean shaven and sometimes wearing a mustache. He was featured in oaters and cliffhangers from most of the major and minor production companies and often portrayed the "brains/dress heavy".

He was under a term player contract(s) with Republic Pictures beginning July, 1943, and continuing through his death on October 13, 1947. That Republic contract provided him with security and a regular paycheck, but it also allowed Republic to utilize him in a lot of films ... and they did. His Republic film credits run from 1936-1947 and about 100 pictures, most of which are cliffhangers and westerns. Les Adams has Mason identified in about 175 sound era films - of these, 113 are westerns and 13 are serials.

Following are a few good examples of Mason's villainy:

  • He's the head of a rustler gang in the George O'Brien DUDE RANGER (Fox, 1934).
  • In COMIN' ROUND THE MOUNTAIN (Republic, 1936), Gene Autry and Ann Rutherford are out to sell horses to the Pony Express, but Mason has other ideas.
  • In THE PAINTED STALLION (Republic, 1937) serial, Mason is the Spanish ruler of California.
  • Crooked mayor Mason vs. Three Mesquiteers John Wayne, Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune in SANTA FE STAMPEDE (Republic, 1938).
  • Mesquiteers John Wayne, Ray Corrigan and Raymond Hatton battled Mason in NEW FRONTIER (Republic, 1939) and WYOMING OUTLAW (Republic, 1939).
  • Tim Holt gets framed for murder and almost loses his ranch to crooked land agent Mason and gang in ROBBERS OF THE RANGE (RKO, 1941).
  • In THE SILVER BULLET (Universal, 1942), Johnny Mack Brown searches for the killer of his father (Mason).
  • Mason is the boss of a toll road operation in the Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson Trail Blazers adventure BLAZING GUNS (Monogram, 1943).
  • Mason and Roy Barcroft are the no-goods working for Jack Holt in the Roy Rogers MY PAL TRIGGER (Republic, 1946).

My B western villain favorites are Harry Woods, Roy Barcroft ... and Le Roy Mason.

He suffered a heart attack during the filming of the Monte Hale western, CALIFORNIA FIREBRAND (Republic, 1948). The death certificate notes that he was a patient at a Veterans Administration hospital for 31 days, from September 12, 1947 through his passing on October 13, 1947. Cause of death was acute myocardial infarction due to coronary thrombosis. Newspaper accounts have incorrect details on Mason's lengthy hospitalization and following is a quote from one October 14, 1947 article: "Suffering a heart attack in between takes on a Republic studio set yesterday, LeRoy Mason, 44, onetime leading man, was taken to Birmingham General Hospital, where he died a few hours later." The obituaries note that Mason enlisted in the U.S. Signal Corps in 1942 but was honorably discharged in 1943 because of health reasons; he leaves behind his widow Bernice and his mother, and there are no children mentioned; and his marriage to actress Rita Carewe was from 1928-1936.

You may want go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral, and then to the California Death Records database. There you will find a record for: Leroy Franklin Mason, born 7/2/1903 in North Dakota, Mother's maiden name of Nelson, and he passed away on 10/13/1947. There is confusion on Mason's birth location. A blurb in the February 12, 1928 Film Daily tradepaper has Mason claiming St. Paul, Minnesota as his birth place. The census, military enlistment, and death certificate info below mentions North Dakota as well as Minnesota.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Wild Bill Elliott has baddie Le Roy Mason under control in this lobby card from MOJAVE FIREBRAND (Republic, 1944).  The youngster is Harry McKim (Sammy McKim's brother).

Several folks have e-mailed asking if Mason ever portrayed a good guy. The answer is yes ... a few times. Circa 1935-1937, producer Maurice Conn was churning out mountie and western adventures starring Kermit Maynard. During that same time period, Conn also produced a series of about ten films starring youngster Frankie Darro.

Assisting Darro in the initial films was Le Roy Mason (billed as Roy Mason). He had worked with Frankie about ten years earlier in the Tom Tyler FBO silent oaters. In the later films, Kane Richmond replaced Mason as Darro's adult helper. On the right are Mason and Darro in a pressbook image from VALLEY OF WANTED MEN (Conn, 1935).

Another good guy role for Mason occurred in the George O'Brien TRIPLE JUSTICE (RKO, 1940). Mason plays a lawman and a lifelong buddy of O'Brien. Early on, he gets shot (wounded, not killed) by Bud McTaggart, one of the henchmen working for Harry Woods.

(Image courtesy of Les Adams)

Rick Albright checked the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census and found the following on the Mason family:

The Family Search website (free), Army Enlistment Records database, and the death certificate provide additional information on Le Roy Mason and wife Bernice:

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

Mason was married and divorced from silent screen actress Rita (Violette) Carewe (1909-1955). She was a 1927 WAMPAS Baby Star, and the daughter of director Edwin Carewe. Rita Mason is listed as Mason's wife in the 1930 census info above. The IMDB has info on her brief film career:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Mason at Forest Lawn - Glendale. When viewing the photo of the marker, note the space in Mason's first name - spelled Le Roy, not Leroy or LeRoy:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" website has more on Mason and his serial work:

It's always interesting to click through newspaper headlines and clippings at the Google newspaper archives. While some of the articles are free, many go to newspaper websites where you have to pay to retrieve the full article. The following links will take you to some free articles:

1928 article titled "OVERNIGHT STAR? YES, AFTER FIVE LONG YEARS":,4397156

1929 - Le Roy Mason, Rita Carewe and others vs. movie actress Alma Rubens and her "noisy and wild parties":,4830316&dq=carewe+alma-rubens&hl=en,6539316&dq=carewe+alma-rubens&hl=en,643602&dq=carewe+alma-rubens&hl=en,148585&dq=carewe+alma-rubens&hl=en,4697099&dq=carewe+alma-rubens&hl=en

1935-1936 - Rita Carewe divorce from Le Roy Mason; she gets $150 per month alimony for five years; appears their 1928-1936 marriage was a bit tumultuous:,2132248&dq=rita-carewe+divorce&hl=en,1273874&dq=rita-carewe+divorce&hl=en

(Image courtesy of Carol Murray and her "Jack Hendricks Photo Album")

Above from left to right are Jack Hendricks (grounded), George Morrell, Merrill McCormick (beard), George Regas (moustache) and Le Roy Mason in a still from the Kermit Maynard mountie film THE FIGHTING TROOPER (Ambassador-Conn, 1934).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - John Wayne has the drop on Jay Wilsey (blue coat), LeRoy Mason (kneeling) and Bert Dillard in a re-release lobby card from TEXAS TERROR (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the pressbook cover from LURE OF THE WASTELAND (Al Lane Pictures, 1939) which starred Grant Withers. Withers is on horseback, and he and Le Roy Mason are shown in the left corner inset.  "Al Lane" was another alias of producer/director/script writer and jack-of-all-trades Robert Emmett 'Bob' Tansey.

(From Old Corral image collection)

From L-to-R are John Wayne dancing with Adele Pearce (later screen name of Pamela Blake) while baddies Yakima Canutt and Le Roy Mason look on. From WYOMING OUTLAW (Republic, 1939), one of the Three Mesquiteers adventures. Note Canutt's colorful gunbelt.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above are (from left to right) Chief Thunder Cloud (Victor Daniels), stuntman Dave Sharpe brandishing a pair of sixguns, and Le Roy Mason in a photo of a lobby card from SILVER STALLION (Monogram, 1941).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above, Ken Maynard has his grips on Mason in BLAZING GUNS (Monogram, 1943), one of the Trail Blazers films.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, from L-to-R are Bud Geary, Hal Taliaferro (Wally Wales), Le Roy Mason (seated), and Kenne Duncan in VIGILANTES OF DODGE CITY (Republic, 1944).

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