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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.


Harry Lauter

Birth name:
Herman Arthur Lauter

1914 - 1990

(From Old Corral collection)



(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Lauter in a minor, uncredited role helping out lead Bill Henry in the serial CANADIAN MOUNTIES VS ATOMIC INVADERS (Republic, 1953).



1954
Ye Old Corral webmeister was born in 1943 and grew up watching 1950s TV westerns in glorious B&W. And a face that turned up often on our small screen television was Harry Lauter.

He was born Herman Arthur Lauter on June 19, 1914 in New York and parents were Herman Florentine Lauter (1880? - 1956) and Elizabeth Babra Frank Lauter (1889 - 1922). Biographies have him born in White Plains, Westchester county, New York. But birth, census, and military records indicate he was born in the Bronx, New York in 1914, and the family resided in the Bronx at the time of the 1915 New York census.

His father Herman hailed from Denver, became a noted illustrator, painter and artist, and the family moved several times - they were in Denver for the 1920 census and circa 1930, had relocated to San Diego, California where Harry attended school and was on the San Diego High School swimming team.

Some biographies have Franceska Lauter as Harry's mother. But that is incorrect. Franceska was Harry's grandmother (mother of Harry's father Herman Lauter). User submitted family trees on Ancestry.com indicate her full name was Anna Franceska Claudina Tiedemann Lauter (1858 - 1932). Another biographical question relates to Harry's grandparents being circus performers and trapeze artists known as the "Flying Lauters". Found nothing on that big top connection - nor any confirmation that the "Flying Lauters" act even existed.

In the early 1940s, Harry was employed as a "Credit man" at Franklins Department Store in Los Angeles. The came a hitch in the Coast Guard during World War II. After discharge, he settled on an acting career, and that included many stage plays. His early film work was primarily in series westerns and serials during the decline of the genres in the late 1940s and early 1950s. During that period, he turns up in oaters at Republic and Columbia as well as Republic cliffhangers.

I remember him most for scores of TV show roles. In the 1950s - 1960s, Lauter was a television workaholic with appearances in WILD BILL HICKOK, MAVERICK, ROY ROGERS SHOW, LONE RANGER, RAWHIDE, DEATH VALLEY DAYS, OZZIE AND HARRIET, THE TIME TUNNEL, GUNSMOKE, ZANE GREY THEATER, lots more. A frequent employer was Gene Autry's Flying A production company, and you can spot Harry in many episodes of the GENE AUTRY SHOW, RANGE RIDER, BUFFALO BILL JR., ANNIE OAKLEY, others. Around 1966, he even did a stint in the DAYS OF OUR LIVES soap opera.

He had recurring roles in several 1950s television series:

  • he played Preston Foster's police officer son on WATERFRONT.
  • was 'Atlasande' in the sci-fi ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER.
  • he's best remembered as lawman 'Clay Morgan', the second lead in TALES OF THE TEXAS RANGERS, which starred tall Willard Parker.

This guy was really busy and I wondered what shows he didn't appear in. Checking his Internet Movie Database (IMDb) list, he didn't do any CISCO KID, SUPERMAN, or I LOVE LUCY.

Serial fans may remember Harry as the lead/hero in TRADER TOM OF THE CHINA SEAS (Republic, 1954) and KING OF THE CARNIVAL (Republic, 1956). CARNIVAL was Republic Picture's 66th and last chapterplay.

While many western and serial actors had difficulty delivering dialog, Lauter was solid and believable. And he looked good in military uniforms. As such, he did a many support roles and bit parts in A grade features. Examples: he's a General in ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971); he portrayed the frogman that wartime sub commander Ronald Reagan leaves behind in HELLCATS OF THE NAVY (1957); and he's wearing a military uniform again in the classic sci-fi THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) which starred Michael Rennie and a robot named Gort.

In a 1974 newspaper article and interview, Harry explained why he loved playing villains:

" ... a man came up to me and said: 'Gawd, I hate you! I've hated you for 20 years!' I took that greeting as the sincerest form of compliment. I play the bad guy and take pride in doing it well. Occasionally I've been on the side of the law, but I don't feel at home in a white hat part. People seem to remember the bad guys, because they get them so riled up."

Harry's movie and television career spanned about twenty five years. He worked in A and B grade films ... was a cliffhanger hero and TV hero ... and one of the more recognized faces on 1950s and 1960s television. Harry's TV and film work ended in the 1970s, and then his energies were devoted to a successful second career as a painter and artist. There are 1970s - 1980s newspaper mentions of Harry (and wife Doris) exhibiting their paintings at various locales and events ... and Harry was an occasional judge at local art fairs.

There were three marriages. His first was Dorothy Marie Figgemeier and son William Gregory Lauter was born in 1938 in California. He and Barbara Jane Ayres tied the knot in 1946 and divorced in 1975. Their daughter Brooke Elizabeth Lauter was born in 1949 in California. Harry married artist and painter Doris Gilbert in 1975, and special thanks to Doris for all the memories and photos that she provided.

Movie fan magazines circa 1950 note that Harry and actor John Derek were best buddies.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Harry attended several of the film / nostalgia conventions and there's photos on the next webpage.

He passed away from heart failure on October 30, 1990 at his home in Ojai, California.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Harry Lauter: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0491591/

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has a webpage on Harry Lauter starring in the serial TRADER TOM OF THE CHINA SEAS (Republic, 1954): https://filesofjerryblake.com/2014/01/21/trader-tom-of-the-china-seas/




(Courtesy of Doris Lauter)


(Courtesy of Doris Lauter)
Special thanks to Harry's wife Doris for all the wonderful photos. Doris writes:

"Harry became an accomplished artist, painting mostly beautiful oil landscapes, with lakes, trees, and mountains. His father, also an artist, was a great influence on him as a child. The Favell Museum of Western Art has one of his landscapes on display in their permanent collection. Being an artist myself, we met in 1970 at various art functions. He had a gallery in Studio City, California, 'Lauters Gallery Row', and also ran an art show on La Cienega on Sundays. After we married, we had a small gallery in Ojai, California, where we did our paintings. We exhibited together in professional art shows and two-man shows all over the country. We felt very fortunate to be able to spend our life doing what we loved to do. He sold everything he painted, and was pleased that his art would be around long after he was gone."

Doris Lauter, September, 1999



Music performer/conductor/composer John Beal and his parents were friends of Harry Lauter and family (and there's info about John at his website: http://www.composerjohnbeal.com/).

John provided the following remembrances in a November, 2003 e-mail:

"Harry Lauter and his wife Barbara were friends of my parents. I was closest in age to their daughter Brooke and liked them all very much. I hadn't seen them since the 1970's, although my parents had stayed in touch. I'm sorry I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Doris. Harry was in so many projects, I recall almost daily watching television and one of us would call out, 'There's Harry ... again!' Happily, I still have one of Harry's scenic paintings. It is with great fondness that I see his continuing legacy in film."



On the trail of Harry Lauter ... and there's lots of Hermans to sort through. There's Harry's grandfather Herman ... Harry's father Herman ... and Harry was a Herman also.

There's also some confusion with the last name - in the records below, you'll find "Lauter" as well as "Von Lauter" mentions.

Info on Harry Lauter and family was found on Family Search (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), Fold3 Military records, California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), trade publications, and newspapers.

With all the Herman mentions - and to minimize confusion - I've highlighted:
Harry's grandfather in this color
and Harry's father in this color

Harry Lauter, birth name of Herman Andrew Lauter (1914 - 1990).

  • Ancestry.com had the Borough of the Bronx, New York birth index (not the birth certificate) - Herman A. Lauter was born June 19, 1914.
  • Ancestry.com had the 1915 New York Census - 33 year old Herman F. Lauter (occupation "Decorator"), his 23 year old wife Elizabeth, and one year old son Herman C. or Herman A. (born New York) are among many individuals and families living at 1495 Westchester Avenue, Bronx, New York.
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - renting in Denver, Colorado are 40 year old Herman E. Lauter (born Colorado; occupation "Artist - At Home"), his 30 year old wife Elizabeth B. (born New York) and 5 year old son Herman A. Lauter: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MX2F-6SF
    (If you check this census takers worksheet, you'll also find Harry's 55 year old widowed grandmother Franceska Von Lauter owning her home at 3342 Eliot Street, Denver. And Ancestry.com had about a dozen Denver, Colorado City Directories from 1896 - 1929 with listings for Franceska Lauter / Franceska von Lauter. In the 1920s city directories, she's listed as the widow of Hermann / Herman F.)
  • Ancestry.com had the 1931 yearbook for San Diego High School, San Diego, California. There's a photo of the swimming team which includes a young (and skinny) Herman Lauter.
  • California Birth Index - William Gregory Lauter was born January 9, 1938 in Los Angeles and mother's maiden name was Figgemeier: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VGFW-B2B
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - renting at 4459 W 62nd Street, Los Angeles are 27 year old Harry W. Lauter (born New York; occupation "Credit man - Dept Store"), his 25 year old wife Dorothy M. (born Kansas), 2 year old son William G. (born California), and a lodger. In 1939, he worked 52 weeks and earned $1900.00: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9W5-S57
  • Ancestry had 1941 city directories with Harry and wife Dorothy in Los Angeles and San Diego:
    1941 Los Angeles City Directory - Harry W. Lauter (occupation "Creditmn Franklins Dept Stores") and wife Dorothy live at 4459 W 62nd, Los Angeles.
    1941 San Diego City Directory - Harry A. Lauter and wife Dorothy live at 749 1st Avenue, San Diego.
  • Fold3 Military Records had his World War II draft registration dated October 16, 1940 - 26 year old Herman Arthur Lauter was born June 19, 1914 in New York, New York. He is 6 feet, 1 1/4 inch tall and weights 174 pounds. Employer is Franklin Department Store in Los Angeles. He and wife Dorothy Marie Lauter reside at 4459 W. 62nd Street, Los Angeles, California.
  • California Birth Index - Brooke Elizabeth Lauter was born August 23, 1949 in Los Angeles and mother's maiden name was Ayres: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VL63-CHX
    There was a birth announcement in the August 31, 1949 issue of Variety: "Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lauter, daughter, Hollywood, Aug. 23. Father is stage and screen actor."
  • California Divorce Index - February, 1975 divorce of Herman A. Lauter and Barbara J. Ayres in Los Angeles: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPBV-ZS5
    Ancestry.com had the California Divorce Index printout with more details - Herman A. Lauter and Barbara Jane Ayres were married in 1946 and divorced in 1975.
  • California Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) - 76 year old Harry Arthur Lauter was born June 19, 1914 in New York, passed away on October 30, 1990 in Ventura county, California, and his mother's maiden name was Frank:
    https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JB7L-KNB
    https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VGPJ-JW4
  • Ancestry.com had the Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File - Harry Lauter was born June 19, 1914 and passed away on October 30, 1990. He enlisted October 15, 1943 in the CG (which is the BIRLS coding for Coast Guard) and was released on December 18, 1945.
  • Various newspapers carried a syndicated death notice from the Associated Press - Harry Lauter passed away from heart failure at his Ojai, California home on October 30, 1990.

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Lauter was cremated and ashes scattered at sea: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/50162724



Harry's grandfather Herman and grandmother Franceska / Frances (Anna Franceska Claudina Tiedemann Lauter (1858 - 1932))

... and Harry's parents, Herman Florentine Lauter (1880 - 1956) and Elizabeth Babra Frank Lauter (1889 - 1922).

  • November 15, 1877 Colorado Naturalization record in Saguache, Colorado for Harry's grandfather, Herman F. Lauter, born in Wurtemberg (Germany): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2SB-KTSC
  • 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Denver, Colorado are Harry's great grandparents, grandparents and father - 48 year year old Herman Lauter (born Germany; occupation "Day Laborer"), his 42 year old wife Francesk [sic] (born Iowa), 22 year old son Herman (born Colorado; occupation "Day Laborer"; this is Harry's father), 13 year old son Arthur T. (born Colorado), and 78 year old Bertha Lauter and 76 year old Jacob P. Lauter (both born in Germany). There is an error in this record - Bertha and Jacob P. are not Lauters. Their last name is Tiedeman / Tiedemann, and they are Franceska's parents: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M311-WZJ
  • Iowa Marriage Index - Herman F. Lauter (born Denver, Colorado circa 1877) married Anna C. Crowe (born Iowa) on January 1, 1901 in Summit, Iowa. His parents were Herman Lauter and Francis Tiedemann: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XJZT-5FH
  • 1910 census summaries and census takers worksheets - and there's two census records for Herman F. Lauter:
    living in Kansas City, Ward 13, Jackson county, Missouri is Herman F. Hauter [sic]. He is widowed, born Colorado about 1880, and occupation is "Decorator - Window". Brother-in-law William F. Cour (Crowe) resides there also: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M2YN-276
    living in Kansas City, Ward 4, Jackson county, Missouri is Herman F. Lauter. He is widowed, born Colorado about 1880, and occupation is "Decorator - Window". Brother-in-law William F. Crowe resides there also: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M2YF-1ZJ
  • 1910 census summaries and census takers worksheets - renting in Denver, Colorado are 85 year old Jacob P. Tiedemann (born Germany; widower; occupation "Carriage Trimming - Own Shop"), 50 year old Frances Lauter (born Iowa; widowed), and her 22 year old son Arthur T. Tiedemann (born Colorado; occupation "Artist and Musician"). The entry for Arthur T. Tiedemann has an incorrect surname. He is Arthur Theodore Lauter, and is Harry's uncle: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MKWT-XT8
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - Harry's grandmother, 55 year old Franceska Von Lauter (born Iowa) owns her home at 3342 Eliot Street, Denver. She is widowed and no occupation listed: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MX2F-6SD
    And Ancestry.com had about a dozen Denver, Colorado City Directories from 1896 - 1929 with Franceska Lauter / Franceska Von Lauter. In the 1920s city directories, she's listed as the widow of Hermann / Herman F.
  • World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 for Harry's father - 38 year old Herman Florentine Lauter was born December 24, 1880. He and wife Elizabeth Babra Lauter live in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York. He is an "Artist" working for Truly Warner, 811 Broadway, New York, New York. In the section asking if the person has lost a leg, eye, etc.: "one finger on right hand". ("Truly Warner" was a hat company with locations in major cities and had frequent print ads in newspapers and magazines.): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6JX-1Q9
  • World War II draft registration dated April 27, 1942 for Harry's father - 62 year old Herman Florentine Lauter was born December 24, 1880 in Denver, Colorado. He lives in San Diego, California and is self employed. In the physical description section: "Amputated index finger of right hand". His contact is H. A. Lauter (this is Harry), San Diego: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V485-LJP
  • California Death Index for Harry's father - Herman E. Lauter was born December 24, 1876 in Colorado and passed away November 19, 1956 in San Diego, California: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPC4-SWV

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has info:
Frances C. Tiedeman Von Lauter passed away in 1932 and is interred at Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Colorado: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/171901129
Jacob P. Tiedeman passed away in 1911 and is interred at Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Colorado: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/171534039/jacob-p_-tiedeman
Bertha Tiedeman passed away in 1903 and is interred at Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Colorado: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/171534090/bertha-tiedeman
Harry's mother, Elizabeth B. Lauter passed away in 1922 and is interred at Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Colorado: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/175134677/elizabeth-b_-lauter
Harry's father, Herman E. Lauter passed away in 1956 and is interred at Greenwood Memorial Park, San Diego, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/195818591/herman-e_-lauter

Circa 1935 painting of Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco by Harry's father. Check the large "H. F. Lauter" signature in the lower right corner of the painting. Does that F middle initial look like an E to you: https://www.1stdibs.com/art/paintings/landscape-paintings/herman-e-lauter-fishermans-wharf-san-francisco/id-a_2762173/




(Courtesy of Doris Lauter)

Above - to many fans, Harry's best remembered role was 'Ranger Clay Morgan' in the TV series TALES OF THE TEXAS RANGERS. Screen Gems, the television production arm of Columbia Pictures, produced 52 half-hour episodes from 1955 - 1958. The initial 39 ran on CBS and ABC televised the last 13 shows. TALES had Willard Parker (as 'Ranger Jace Pearson') and Lauter alternating between old west or modern west settings and was based on the 1950s NBC radio show of the same name which starred Joel McCrea. TALES comic books were also churned out and most had photo covers featuring Willard Parker or Joel McCrea.



(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Harry Lauter, Rex Allen and Harry Cheshire in Rex's THUNDER IN GOD'S COUNTRY (Republic, 1951). This is a good guy role for Harry who plays the local sheriff. Lauter did A and B grade westerns with Rex Allen, Rocky Lane, Bill Elliott, Gene Autry, Charles Starrett, Audie Murphy, Joel McCrea, more.



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