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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 Donn & Nancy Moyer)
Dick Curtis

Real name: Richard D. Dye

1902 - 1952


Born in Kentucky in 1902, Dick Curtis started his Hollywood film career at the tail end of the silent era. He was still working in films and early TV a few months prior to his January 3, 1952 passing. Tradepaper biographies mention his birth place as Newport, Kentucky.

Among his early roles was that of a sailor in KING KONG (RKO, 1933) and he was injured during the making of that film. The July 7, 1934 Hollywood Filmograph had a blurb about Curtis and KING KONG: The article headline reads "VERY MUCH ALIVE" and "Dick Curtis, who was hurt during the filming of "King Kong" and who was reported to have died, is very much alive ..."

In the mid 1930s, Curtis honed his villain skills against Tim McCoy, Kermit Maynard, Fred Scott, Johnny Mack Brown and Ken Maynard. Then he settled in at Columbia Pictures and became a frequent adversary to Charles Starrett, Wild Bill Elliott ... and the Three Stooges. Curtis had some interesting, creative screen names in the Starretts - he was "Wolf Munro", "Lobo Savage", "Blaze Carewe", and "Bat Stringer". Standing tall at around 6 feet, 3 inches in height, he looked mean and ornery with or without a mustache.

I always chuckle seeing big, burly Curtis being beaten up and outwitted by the Three Stooges. He seemed to have a flair for comedy and slapstick and a good example is saloon owner Curtis vs. Moe, Larry and Curly in YES, WE HAVE NO BONANZA (Columbia, 1939).

Curtis did 24 Columbia oaters with Starrett during the years 1937-1943. And there were lots of other films during his Columbia stay - included are four westerns and a cliffhanger with Bill Elliott, some Andy Clyde shorts, several of the Blondie and Dagwood series, and Curtis was one of many familiar B western faces in the Joe E. Brown comedy SHUT MY BIG MOUTH (Columbia, 1942).

He appeared in many chapterplays and following are a few examples:

As the serial and western faded away, Curtis went to work in early TV shows and can be spotted in THE RANGE RIDER, GENE AUTRY SHOW, WILD BILL HICKOK, THE LONE RANGER, more.

Les Adams has Dick Curtis in about 220 sound era films - that number includes 96 westerns, 16 chapterplays and 34 shorts. He did occasional work at Republic Pictures and his film credits at that studio number about 20 oaters and cliffhangers.

In the late 1940s, Curtis (and Hopalong Cassidy sidekick Russell Hayden, Roy Rogers, some of the Sons of the Pioneers singin' group, and a few others) helped develop the Pioneertown movie location site (in California) which was named in honor of The Sons of the Pioneers. Curtis was the first president of the Pioneertown Corporation. His movie work was near zero during the years 1947-1949, probably due to his involvement in Pioneertown.

In December, 1935, he married Ruth Sullivan who worked in silents as a child and had a few acting roles in early 1930s sound films. That was his second marriage.

On November 26, 1951, Curtis had surgery for a brain tumor. He passed away at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, Inglewood, California on January 3, 1952.

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

          Dick Curtis: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0193318/
          Dick's wife Ruth Sullivan (1917-1995): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0838322/

The Internet Broadway Database has a couple 1929-1930 New York plays featuring Richard Curtis. Am unsure if this is our B western and serial Dick Curtis: http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=36928

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Records, various newspapers, and the death certificate provide more information on Curtis:

Dick Curtis and Russell Hayden were instrumental in the establishment of the Pioneertown, California movie location.  The links below have more info on Pioneertown and the Hayden Ranch:

http://www.movielocationsplus.com/PIONEER.HTM
http://www.deluxxe.com/pioneertown/view/historichayden.html
http://desertgold.com/ptown/hayden.html

Stephen Lodge writes about Curtis, Roy Rogers, et al and Pioneertown: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?AuthorID=12206&id=8415

The Three Stooges Net website includes a listing of the various cast members in the Stooges' shorts. Curtis worked in over a dozen of the Stooge shorts during the years 1938-1951: http://www.threestooges.net/cast.php?id=292/

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" website has details on Dick Curtis doing serials: http://filesofjerryblake.com/serial-henchmen/dick-curtis/

Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website has a profile on Curtis: http://www.westernclippings.com/heavies/dickcurtis_charactersheavies.shtml

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Curtis at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6726480&pt=Dick%20Curtis

Ruth Sullivan Tarrant (1914-1995) performed in films, on stage and was a model. The Arizona Archives Online at Arizona University has the Ruth Sullivan Tarrant Collection (which includes material from her years as the wife of Dick Curtis): http://www.azarchivesonline.org/xtf/view?docId=ead/asu/tarrant.xml;query=;brand=default




(From Old Corral image collection)

Above are Wild Bill Elliott and Dick Curtis (without his moustache) locked in combat during one of their many brawls in westerns at Columbia Pictures.



(From Old Corral image collection)

From L-to-R are young Dickie Jones, Frank Hagney, Kermit Maynard, Dick Curtis, and an unidentified player trying to restrain Curtis.  Budd Buster is laying on the floor. From WILD HORSE ROUND-UP (Ambassador-Conn, 1936), one of the series of mid 1930s mountie and western yarns that starred Ken Maynard's brother Kermit. As an adult, Dick Jones was TV's BUFFALO BILL JR. and the helper to Jock Mahoney in THE RANGE RIDER TV show.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Kermit Maynard, Dick Curtis, Frank McCarroll and Roger Williams in a lobby card from VALLEY OF TERROR (Ambassador/Conn, 1937).



(From Old Corral image collection)

In the above lobby card from MOONLIGHT ON THE RANGE (Spectrum, 1937), Ed Cassidy is trying to restrain singing cowboy Fred Scott who is pummeling baddie Dick Curtis.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Charles Starrett is about to get a pitchfork from Dick Curtis in a scene from WEST OF CHEYENNE (Columbia, 1938).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Dick Curtis, the moustached Bill Elliott, sidekick Frank Mitchell (standing), Tex Ritter and an unidentified player in a scene from VENGEANCE OF THE WEST (Columbia, 1942), the weakest of the eight Elliott-Ritter adventures. In this one, Elliott played Joaquin Murietta and escapes at the end thanks to Ranger Tex.



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