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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.

Pierce Lyden

1908 - 1998

Special thanks to "guest commentator" Donn Moyer for the following narrative and background info on Pierce Lyden.

Movie baddie Pierce Lyden passed away at age 90 on October 10, 1998, at his home in Orange, California, after a battle with cancer.  He was on the Hospice program at the time.  The handsome, mustached Lyden was the oldest and one of the last living movie villains.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)
Pierce was born January 8, 1908 at Hildreth, Nebraska, on a ranch in a sod house.  His dad was a buyer of horses for the Cavalry.  Pierce was on horseback from boyhood but the magnetism of show business pulled him away from the ranch and to the University of Fine Arts at Lincoln, Nebraska.  He was able to get stage work which eventually led to roles on radio.  After a lot of years on stage he migrated to sunny California in 1931 and soon found work in the legitimate theatre where he performed a variety of roles from rogue to leading man.  This led to his first movie job and over the years Pierce appeared with about every cowboy star in the business.

He appeared in over 300 films, with another one hundred plus television and serial appearances to his credit.  He appeared in about 25 films at Republic Pictures during the period from 1940 - 1951, and most of these were serials and B westerns.

The talented gentleman was groomed by Paramount for stardom but the studio bosses decided not to try and promote an unknown into a starring role as the depression years were not a time to try someone new.  Pierce, undaunted, did hair raising stunts, specialized in fight scenes and used his excellence in horsemanship to keep from getting killed while stunting.  Cast mainly as a villain the mustached Lyden was awarded the title of "Villain of the Year" in 1944 by the Photo Press Fan Poll.

In 1962, Pierce called it quits.  He was always surprised that in years to come he would receive fan mail and be considered an honoured guest at western fan get togethers.  Pierce said there was an unwritten law that the western stars were not to fraternize with the actors but he found close, lasting friendships none the less with such stars as Johnny Mack Brown.  Pierce was grateful for his friends, fans and life as a cowboy baddie in the movies.  What adulation he did receive was his treasure.  Although Pierce was finished with the movies, he had a lot to contribute left in him.  With the help of the prolific artist and writer Mario De Marco, he authored several books on his life, all of which are recommended by this author.  He also found time to get involved with the "Meals on Wheels" program in 1978 and was on their Advisory Board as its president.  Besides being active in the Elks Club, he also found time to become involved in various religious venues. 

Pierce Lyden was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Heritage Foundation in 1979.

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

There is a "star" for Pierce Lyden on the "Palm Springs Walk of Stars", and you can see the complete list of movie personalities at:

Or, you can go directly to the Lyden star by clicking on:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Lyden at Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, California:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Johnny Mack Brown, an older Jack Perrin, John Merton and Pierce Lyden in SHADOWS OF THE RANGE (Monogram, 1946).

(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.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)

Above, Dave Twomey (Happy the Clown) with movie bad guy Pierce Lyden and Pierce's wife Hazel, circa 1972

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