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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)
Fred Kohler, Sr.

Full name:
Fredrick Louis Kohler

not Frederick with an E

1887 or 1888 - 1938

Fred Kohler, Jr.

Birth name:
Jesse William Koehler

Amended birth name:
Fred Jesse William Koehler

1911 - 1993

(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)

Fred Kohler, Sr. began his Hollywood career around 1910 at Selig, and by the 1920s had became typecast as a brutish, vicious villain, appearing in many of Paramount's Zane Grey westerns, THE IRON HORSE with George O'Brien, more. That typecasting continued into the sound era where he was an antagonist to Reb Russell, Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, George O'Brien and William Boyd/Hoppy. The best of his sound western roles is facing Mix in THE RIDER OF DEATH VALLEY (Universal, 1932). Another meaty role was his portrayal of 'General Burr' in the cliffhanger, THE VIGILANTES ARE COMING (Republic, 1936), which starred Bob Livingston. Kohler, Sr. passed away from a heart attack at his home in West Hollywood, California on October 28, 1938.

Film historian William K. Everson had a multi paragraph write-up on Kohler Senior in his book THE BAD GUYS, A Pictorial History of the Movie Villain (Cadillac Publishing/Citadel Press, 1964). Everson begins his Kohler comments with:

"If I were ever asked to nominate the best western badman of all, I don't think there would be much of a mental struggle before Fred Kohler's name was elevated to that lofty pedestal. Fred was a badman of the old school - crafty, ugly, brawny, happier with the simple villainies of robbing stagecoaches or rustling casttle, and not one to have others do his dirty work for him. When displeased, which was frequently, he'd grind his teeth audibly and glower ... "

Son Fred Kohler, Jr. got a (brief) chance to do some hero work in the mid 1930s in a planned six film series for producer William Berke and Commodore Pictures. But Commodore went belly-up and only two of the Kohler Jr. oaters were lensed (as well as two with Harry Carey, Sr.). Big and burly like his dad, the younger Kohler had a mild (bland) screen personality - on screen, he just didn't project the same kind of malevolence as his father. Fred Junior became a minor bit/supporting player from the 1930s until his last film and television appearances in the 1960s. You can spot him in several of the pre-World War II Charles Starrett oaters ... at Republic with Bill Elliott, Don Barry, Roy Rogers and the Three Mesquiteers ... and in Gene Autry's later films for Columbia Pictures. Junior also shows up in early TV shows including THE CISCO KID, WILD BILL HICKOK, 26 MEN, and more. Fred Jr. passed away on January 7, 1993 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In the sound era, Fred Senior made about 70 films, of which 33 were westerns and 2 were serials.  Fred Junior appeared in about 85 movies, of which 34 were oaters and 4 were cliffhangers.

Father and son appeared together in several films including Fred Senior's last, LAWLESS VALLEY (RKO, 1938), one of the George O'Brien sagebrushers.

(Courtesy of Leota Whitaker Gandrau)

Above - pretty Kay Sutton is sandwiched between Fred Kohler, Sr. and Jr. in the older Kohler's final screen role in the George O'Brien LAWLESS VALLEY (RKO, 1938). Both Senior and Junior played no-good father and son in this O'Brien.

On the (confusing) trail of Fred Kohler Senior and Junior

Tracking info on the Junior and Senior Kohlers has been a mind numbing experience. In the information below, there are common threads which I've highlighted in several colors. These are:

Fred Seniors first wife was Ida Friedman and she is linked as the birth mother of Fred Junior. Ida's mother was Susan Anixter.
There are a couple last name variations (Kohler vs. Koehler) as well as first name (Frederick vs. Fredrick).
Some biographies on Fred Senior have him born in Kansas City, Missouri. Senior is consistent in referencing his Iowa birth location (though he lists Keokuk, Iowa vs. Burlington, Iowa as his birth town).
In his draft registration and marriage licenses, Fred Senior lists his father as Louis Marion Kohler. The obituary for Senior mentions that he was the brother of Miss Luella Thacker of Cincinnati, William Kohler of Sioux City and Frank Kohler of Oakland.
About Fred Senior
The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Index, newspaper obituaries/funeral notices, and the death certificate provide more on the Senior Kohler:

  • December 15, 1910 Los Angeles, California marriage license of 23 year old Fredrick Louis Kohler (born Iowa) to 19 year old Ida Friedman (born California; occupation barber). His first name is spelled Fredrick, not Frederick. Kohler was single; birth place was Keokuk, Iowa; occupation is "Miner"; he resides at the South Park Hotel, Los Angeles and Ida lives in San Francisco. Fred's parents were Louis Marion Kohler (born Maine) and Fanny Herald/Fomy Hearold (born Missouri). Ida's parents were Samuel Friedman and Susan Anixter (both born Russia):
    1900 census for 9 year old Ida Friedman (born Missouri) and family are living in San Francisco, California. Her mother's first name is Susan:
  • World War I draft registration dated June 4, 1917 - 30 year old Fredrick L. Kohler was born April 20, 1887 in Burlington, Iowa. His first name is spelled Fredrick, not Frederick. He is married, has one child, and they live at the Sherman Hotel in Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor" and employer is Fox Film Co., Western Ave., Los Angeles. As to exemptions and/or medical conditions or disability, the card notes "Right Hand Bad" and "Right Hand Mutilated":
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 32 year old Fred Kohler (born Missouri) is one of many roomers living at 248 South Olive Street, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor - Motion Pictures":
  • June 7, 1921 marriage license of 34 year old Fred L. Kohler (divorced; occupation actor) to Marguerite Schweikert (her first marriage; occupation actress) in Pasadena, California. Fred lists his parents as Louis Marion Kohler (born Pennsylvania) and Fanny Herrald (born Kentucky):
  • February 20, 1928 marriage license of 40 year old Fred L. Kohler (born Iowa) to 21 year old Constance M. Console (born France) in Van Nuys, California. Fred's parents were L. M. Kohler and Fanny Herrald. This was his third marriage and her second. Constance's maiden name was Constance Prole:
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 43 year old Fred K. Kohler (born Iowa), 23 year old wife Marjorie (born France), and two servants are living in Los Angeles, California. The Kohlers own their home at 20715 Sherman Way, Los Angeles. Fred was not a military veteran, and his occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures". Son Fred is not present:
  • Death certificate: 50 year old Fred Louis Kohler passed away at his home at 1354 N. Harper Avenue, West Hollywood, California on October 28, 1938 from "acute cardiac failure". He was born April 21, 1888 in Dubuque, Iowa; father was Frederick L. Kohler (born Germany), mother's name unknown; wife's name of Marjorie Kohler; his occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures". Burial at Inglewood Park Cemetery. Death certificate informant was son Fred Kohler, Jr.
  • The Los Angeles (California) Times newspaper had a funeral notice in their October 30, 1938 edition. Excerpts: "Fred Kohler, beloved husband of Marjorie C. ... father of Fred Kohler Jr., brother of Miss Luella Thacker of Cincinnati, William Kohler of Sioux City and Frank Kohler of Oakland."
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 32 year old Marjorie Kohler (widowed; born France) is a lodger living in Los Angeles. Difficult to read the address which appears to be 321 South Normandie Avenue, Los Angeles. In 1935, she resided in Beverly Hills, California:
  • California Death Index has an entry for Ida Sparks - she was born May 15, 1891 in Missouri, mother's maiden name of Anixter, father's last name of Friedman, and she passed away June 9, 1992 in the Los Angeles area:

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

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has the location of the unmarked grave for Kohler, Sr. at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California:

About Fred Junior
The Family Search website (free), (subscription), and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have information on Fred Jr.:

  • September 4, 1911 Los Angeles birth certificate of Jesse William Koehler to 24 year old Frederick Louis Koehler (born Iowa; occupation laborer) and 20 year old Ida Friedman (born Missouri; occupation housewife), and they live at 3015 Eastside Boulevard, Los Angeles. Pay particular attention to the bottom left corner of this birth certificate as there is a notation of "Given name added from a supplemental report" with a date of 9-19-55. Written in front of Juniors original birth name of Jesse William Koehler is "Fred" ... and that makes his revised full name Fred Jesse William Koehler:,285229701
  • Ancestry had the California Birth Index record with the revised first name: Fred J. Koehler, born September 4, 1911 in Los Angeles county, and his mother's maiden name was Friedman.
  • June 20, 1945 Los Angeles marriage license of 33 year old William F. Kohler (born Los Angeles; occupation "Ranches-Cattle") to 24 year old Ouida V. Ross (born Seattle, Washington). This is the first marriage for Kohler and the second for Ross. Kohler's parents were Fred Kohler (born Iowa) and Ida Freedman (born Missouri):
  • November 17, 1948 Los Angeles marriage license of 37 year old Fredrick William Kohler, (born Los Angeles; occupation "Actor"), to 24 year old Carol Janis, (born Chicago, Illinois; occupation "Actress"). They both list "divorced" and this was the 3rd marriage for both. Fred's parents were Fred Kohler (born Iowa) and Ida Freeman (born Missouri):
  • December 9, 1967 marriage index record (not the license) for 56 year old Fred W. Kohler to 41 year old Dorothy J. Downing in Los Angeles:
  • The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has a record for: Fred W. Kohler, born September 4, 1911 in California, and passed away at about 82 years of age on January 7, 1993 in Scottsdale, Maricopa County, Arizona.

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

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Fred Jr. had a non-cemetery burial somewhere in Arizona:

Fred Senior

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Jack Luden seems to be the winner of this brawl with a young and curly-haired Fred Kohler, Sr. in the silent SHOOTIN' IRONS (Paramount, 1927). During the late 1920s, Kohler was a busy guy working under contract at Paramount.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

In the above still and crop/blowups, Ken Maynard is prone among an entire regiment of bad guys in THE FIDDLIN' BUCKAROO (Universal, 1933). From L-to-R are Slim Whitaker, Bud McClure, Frank Ellis (face in shadows), Roy Bucko, Hank Bell (with Maynard's pearl handled six-shooter in his belt), Jack Kirk (face in shadows), unidentified player (tall hat), Fred Kohler and Buck Bucko.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Fred Kohler, Sr. and Ann D'Arcy in a scene from THE MAN FROM HELL (Willis Kent, 1934) which starred Reb Russell.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above, Fred Kohler, Sr. versus Buck Jones in BORDER BRIGANDS (Universal, 1935). Hank Bell, with his usual handlebar moustache, is in the middle watchin' the action.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Reb Russell, Yvonne Pelletier, Fred Kohler, and Dick Botiller in LIGHTNING TRIGGERS (Willis Kent, 1935), Reb's last film. If you look closely, you can see the disfigured right hand on Kohler, which was caused, depending on the source, by a birth defect or a hunting accident, or ... various. Bobby Copeland provides some additional info: "Fred Kohler, Jr. told me what happened to his Father's hand. Sr., who was too young at the time to handle explosives, was working with dynamite when he accidentally blew off part of his hand. The mining officials gave him $100 to never reveal what had happened."

Fred Junior

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Fred Kohler, Jr., Ed Cassidy (minus his usual moustache) and Earl Dwire in THE PECOS KID (Commodore, 1935), one of a pair of mid 1930s oaters in which the younger Kohler was the lead and hero.

(Courtesy of Patricia L. Manson)

Above from L-to-R are an unidentified player, Cliff Parkinson and Fred Kohler, Jr. in another still from THE PECOS KID (Commodore, 1935).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Fred Kohler, Jr., kneeling over Earl Dwire. Left to right in the back row are Tom London, Jack Hendricks (AKA Ray Henderson), Ed Cassidy and Betty Mack. Lobby card and crop/blowup from TOLL OF THE DESERT (Commodore, 1935), the second (of two) starring oaters for Kohler, Jr.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Jack Ingram, Pascale Perry, Fred Kohler, Jr., Tom Tyler, Tom Chatterton, Sam Lufkin (bartender) and Al Taylor in a scene from the Three Mesquiteers RAIDERS OF THE RANGE (Republic, 1942).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a title card included in the pressbook for WESTERN MAIL (Monogram, 1942), one of the eight 1941-42 releases that Tom Keene did for Monogram.  The baddies in the background are, from L-to-R, Sherry Tansey, Rocky Camron (Gene Alsace), Karl Hackett and Fred Kohler, Jr.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)

Above - 1970s photo of Fred Kohler, Jr.

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