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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.




(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)



(From Old Corral image collection)



(Courtesy of Bill Sasser)
Tom London
Real name: Leonard Thomas Clapham
1889 - 1963


Tall, thin Tom London was one of the most familiar faces to B western audiences. Born in Kentucky, his movie career began in the early days of the silent film working with the Selig company. He easily migrated to talking pictures, where he portrayed sheriffs, ranch owners, henchmen and the occasional brains heavy in westerns from the 1930s through the 1950s. In non-westerns, he often wore a Police uniform ... or a suit that covered his detective badge.

One of the most prolific of the Hollywood character/supporting players, Les Adams has London identified in about 500 sound films --- that number includes work in at least 52 serials and 320 westerns. Among these are about 160 films at Republic Pictures during the period from 1935 - 1951. Much of London's Republic work occurred from July, 1943 through July, 1947, when he was under a term player contract(s). That contract gave London some security and a regular paycheck, but allowed Republic to utilize him in lots of films.

London was typical of the western and serial performers who migrated to television roles when the B western and cliffhanger work faded in the post World War II period. On TV, you can spot him in episodes of THE RANGE RIDER, ANNIE OAKLEY, GENE AUTRY, more.

I have a lot of favorite Tom London roles. But the London performance that I always recall is in the Gene Autry RIDERS IN THE SKY (Columbia, 1949). In that, Tom plays the grizzled (and nice) "Old Man Roberts" who dies at the end ... and becomes one of the mystic riders galloping on white horses while Gene sings "Ghost Riders In The Sky". Another good Tom London portrayal is in the Jimmy Wakely BRAND OF FEAR (Monogram, 1949), where he plays an old lawman with a secret past. Decades earlier, he was an outlaw and also the father of schoolmarm Gail Davis (who thinks her father died long ago).

Obituaries mention that London passed away on December 5, 1963 at his North Hollywood home which he shared with his sister, Anita Pearcy.

You may also want to 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: Tom London, born 8/24/1889 in Kentucky, Mother's maiden name of Huesman, and he passed away on 12/5/1963. There is a corresponding record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), but his name is shown as Leonard Clapham, not Tom London. Note that the correct spelling of his last name is Clapham (with an L), not Chapman.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Tom London: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0163417/

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave site has info on London's final resting place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=9930845&pt=Tom%20London

There's more on Tom London at the Family Search website:





(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above are Tom London and pretty Republic Pictures heroine Peggy Stewart.




(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Buddy Roosevelt (with moustache), Benny Corbett, Tom London (on horseback), Jay Wilsey (Buffalo Bill Jr.) and Bob Roper in a scene from WESTWARD BOUND (Webb-Douglas Productions/Syndicate, 1931). Wilsey was the star of this early sound film which was directed by Harry S. Webb, the later owner (with B. B. Ray) of Reliable Pictures.



(Courtesy of Dorothy Hack)

Above from L-to-R are Stanley Blystone, Tom London, Herman Hack, old codger Jack Duffy and Gaylord (Steve) Pendleton in a scene from TRAIL'S END (Beaumont, 1935), which starred Conway Tearle.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Joe De La Cruz, Jayne Regan, Jack Perrin, Slim Whitaker and Tom London in THE CACTUS KID (Reliable, 1935).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Jack Perrin, Tom London, Roger Williams and Oscar Gahan in a lobby card from WILDCAT SAUNDERS (Atlantic, 1936).



(From Old Corral image collection)

From L-to-R are Tom London, Max Terhune, John Wayne, and Ray "Crash" Corrigan in SANTA FE STAMPEDE (Republic, 1938), one of the Three Mesquiteers films.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Tommy Coats, Bob Clark, Tom London, Herman Willingham, Herman Nowlin/Nolan, and Clyde Kinney in GHOST VALLEY RAIDERS (Republic, 1940), which starred Don Barry.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Tom London, Frank LaRue and Tex Ritter in a lobby card from ROLL, WAGONS, ROLL (Monogram, 1940).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, an interesting lobby card from RIDING THE SUNSET TRAIL (Monogram, 1941), and from L-to-R are: Betty Miles, Tom Keene, Kenne Duncan, Sherry Tansey (James Sheridan Tansey), Earl Douglas, and Tom London. Earl Douglas' real name was Lou Yaconelli, the brother of sidekick Frank Yaconelli. If you look close, you might make out the moustached Arkansas Slim Andrews to the right of Keene's face. Can you spot the error on this lobby card - look at all the gunbelts and the holsters as they are on the left side. Apparently, the photo used in preparation of this card was reversed.



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

Lawmen Jack Hendricks (on the left) and Tom London (right) have the drop on Ray 'Crash' Corrigan in a scene from Range Busters #8, FUGITIVE VALLEY (Monogram, 1941).



(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 Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Herman Hack, Henry Wills, Cliff Parkinson and Tom London in THE SAN ANTONIO KID (Republic, 1944), one of the Red Ryder series starring Bill Elliott.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is Tom London, without his false teeth, as the sidekick to Republic's Sunset Carson in the mid 1940s.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, Tom London (sans teeth), as Sunset Carson's helper in a lobby card from DAYS OF BUFFALO BILL (Republic, 1946). The body on the floor is Rex Lease, one-time cowboy hero and frequent bit player/supporting actor.



(Image courtesy of Ted Osborn)

Above is the gang facing Sunset Carson in ALIAS BILLY THE KID (Republic, 1946). From L-to-R in the above lobby card are Tom London, Peggy Stewart, Russ Whiteman and the bearded Tex Terry.



(From Old Corral image collection)

From L-to-R are Tom London, Allan Lane with Peggy Stewart in his arms, whiskered Emmett Lynn, Pierce Lyden, and in the front is Bobby Blake as Little Beaver. Lobby card from RUSTLERS OF DEVIL'S CANYON (Republic, 1947), one of the Red Ryder adventures.



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