Back to prior page


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.



(From Old Corral image collection)
Stephen Morris / Morris Ankrum

Real name:
Morris Winslow Ankrum

1896 or 1897 - 1964

Nickname: Morrie



1936
Morris Ankrum was born in Danville, Illinois.

Hollywood screen biographies are always suspect as many were enhanced or just plain false.  Purportedly, Ankrum graduated from the University of Southern California with a law degree, then went on to become an associate professor in economics at the University of California at Berkeley. At UC-Berkeley, he founded - or was heavily involved in the college theatre - and eventually became a drama teacher and director at the Pasadena Playhouse. His students included Robert Preston and Raymond Burr.

We do know that he signed a contract with Hopalong Cassidy producer Harry Sherman in the mid 1930s and adopted a screen name of 'Stephen Morris'. Around 1939 or 1940, he became 'Morris Ankrum' which is the moniker recalled by most film fans. His work in the Hoppy series was significant - he appeared in thirteen of the films as well as a couple of the 1950s TV shows. He seemed to exit westerns in the 1940s and concentrated on character roles such as ministers, fathers, businessman ... as well as villains.

While I do admire his work in the Cassidy oaters, my fondest memories of Ankrum are his 1950s characterizations in low budget sci-fi films, where he always seemed to wear a military uniform (examples: ROCKETSHIP X-M, INVADERS FROM MARS, and EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS). He was also one of the judges on the PERRY MASON TV show and was working on that series at the time of his death in 1964.

One of my favorite Ankrum roles is in Tim Holt's THE BANDIT TRAIL (RKO, 1941). He's bad guy 'Red' Haggerty, who reforms at the end but is killed while helping his relative Steve Haggerty (Tim Holt) win a gunfight against Roy Barcroft and gang.

Ankrum passed away September 2, 1964 and some biographies note that his death was caused by trichinosis. One newspaper mentions that he had been hospitalized for about a week with an intestinal ailment, but had a heart attack and died in his sleep. He had suffered a previous heart attack.

The Family Search website has information on Morris Ankrum:

Middle and last name questions (and answers): Some biographies have his last name as "Nussbaum", but that doesn't appear to be correct based on the census records. Other information, including 1920-1922 records from the University of California, Berkeley, indicate his full name was Morris Winslow Ankrum. In 2014, the Vermilion County, Illinois Heritage Foundation honored actor Morris Winslow Ankrum, a Danville, Illinois native, with a display at the Fischer Arts and Entertainment Museum: http://www.commercial-news.com/news/local_news/information-sought-on-actor/article_92c5ff56-44ef-11e4-b0db-53d4ad93b006.html

Special thanks to Ellen Bailey at the Pasadena Playhouse for the following information:

Morrie was active at the Pasadena Playhouse from 1930 until 1963 --- a year before his death. He appeared in as well as directed dozens of plays.  However the only additional information I can give you are excerpts taken from program bios.

From Othello in November 1930: Morris Ankrum, new associate director, plays his first big role at the Pasadena Playhouse in this production. Ankrum comes from a year with George Arliss in The Green Goddess and other professional successes in New York as well as the experience directing The Little Theatre at the University of California, the Little Theatre at Tacoma, the Theatre of the Golden Bough and the Playhouse at Carmel.

In the early 40's he was one of the founders of a group called 'Eighteen Actors' along with his wife, Joan Wheeler; Dana Andrews and his wife, Mary Todd; Victor Jory and his wife Jean Inness; Moroni Olsen and several other excellent actors.

His bio reads from the New York productions of Gods of the Lightning, In the Next Room, Within the Gates: Ankrum came to the Coast to serve, for a five-year period, as associate director of the Pasadena Playhouse. For two years he was appointed head of the UCLA drama department, summer session. To Ankrum goes credit for the Coast premieres of Cavalcade, Within the Gates, Thr'penny Opera, No More Frontier, Richard II and III. During this period he also served as test director for Fox Films. On his return to New York he was producer-director for Federal Theatre and produced Prologue to Glory, The Big Blow and Pinocchio. Ankrum is now under contract to Sherman Productions and is seen on screen in BORDERLAND, LIGHT OF WESTERN STARS and KNIGHTS OF THE RANGE. In addition to his work as actor and director, Ankrum is co-author of the New York comedy success The Mystery Man.

From Gideon in November 1963: Morrie has a voice and face, which would be recognized by even the most casual moviegoer. A veteran of literally hundreds of motion pictures and stage roles, Mr. Ankrum is a product of the Pasadena Playhouse. For many years early in his career, he was associated with this theatre as an actor and staff director. A season ago he convulsed audiences with his interpretation of Louis, King of France, in one of the lighter moments in Jean Anouilh's Becket, and two seasons ago he turned his hand to directing our production of the classic play, The Dybbuk.

Ellen Bailey
Pasadena Playhouse - Archivist
October 1, 1999

(Note: The 'Sherman Productions' mentioned above is Harry Sherman, the producer of the Hopalong Cassidy series for Paramount.)


  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Morris Ankrum AKA Stephen Morris: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0030194/

The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on David Ankrum, who was born in 1947 to Morris Ankrum and Joan Wheeler Ankrum: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0030193/

The Internet Broadway database has many credits for Morris Ankrum as producer, performer, writer, director: http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=7808

D. M. Brockman's PERRY MASON TV show website has a listing of Ankrum's 20+ appearances as a judge: http://www.perrymasontvseries.com/A_Actors.htm

The Smithsonian, Archives of American Art, has a lengthy interview with Joan Ankrum (1913-2001) conducted 1997-1998 by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, in Pasadena, California. She became a noted Los Angeles art gallery owner after leaving a difficult marriage with Morris Ankrum: http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-joan-ankrum-12691

Boyd Magers Western Clippings website has a profile on Morris Ankrum: http://www.westernclippings.com/heavies/morrisankrum_charactersheavies.shtml

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Ankrum is interred at Spring Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Danville, Illinois: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6804504



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Ankrum (billed as Stephen Morris) has the drop on William 'Hoppy' Boyd in this lobby card from HILLS OF OLD WYOMING (Paramount, 1937).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are William Boyd, Russell Hayden, Andy Clyde and Ankrum (now billed as Morris Ankrum) in a lobby card from WIDE OPEN TOWN (Paramount, 1941).





'Cy' Kendall

Full name:
Cyrus Willard Kendall

1898 - 1953

(From Old Corral image collection)

Born in St. Louis in 1898, rotund Cyrus 'Cy' Kendall became a jack-of-all-trades doing California and Broadway plays, radio shows, a variety of film roles, and early TV ... and he was a frequent performer at the Pasadena Playhouse.

World War I draft registration and early census records have Kendall working as a department store/dry goods clerk. And he and family settled down in Pasadena, California, and he resided there from about 1918 through his death in 1953.

Cy's movie credits begin circa 1935 and amount to about 120 films, including approximately 20 westerns and a half dozen serials. He has 17 film credits at Republic Pictures for the period 1935-1946, and about a third of those are westerns and serials.

In westerns, Kendall generally wore a vest and suit, chewed on a cigar, and did his best as the conniving, scheming brains heavy --- and his roles were that of a land-grabber, carpetbagger, crooked lawyer or slippery politician. Doing bits and minor supporting roles in other films, Kendall was often a bartender or plain clothes cop/detective. Some of my favorite Kendall performances include:



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Cy Kendall, singin' cowboy Dick Foran and Harry Woods in a lobby card from LAND BEYOND THE LAW (Warners, 1937).


Special thanks to the Pasadena Playhouse for the following information:

Cy Kendall was active at the Playhouse. He appeared in 16 plays over a period from 1920 to 1949. He was not a founder (of the fabled Eighteen Actors Inc. group), but he was around close to the beginning. Of the 16 plays done by the Eighteen Actors, Kendall appeared in three of them.

The only bio material appeared in a 1941 program: "He was Charlie Chan of the airwaves. ONE MANS' FAMILY, LUX RADIO THEATRE and THE SILVER THEATRE are his radio credits, but in films he has appeared for five years and prior to that the stage was his major interest. Fifty plays on the Pacific Coast, New York production of Around the Corner augment his long theatrical credit list. Hollywood Holiday, Bunty Pulls the Strings, The Dybbuk (all Pasadena Playhouse productions) are counted among the plays on the Kendall score."

The Handbook of Old-Time Radio, A Comprehensive Guide to Golden Age Radio Listening and Collecting by Jon D. Swartz and Robert C. Reinehr (Scarecrow Press, 1993) and On the Air, The Encylopedia of Old Time Radio by John Dunning (Oxford Press, 1998), include the following radio show credits for Kendall:

I do know that Kendall appeared on the LUX RADIO THEATER, as I have a tape somewhere of him in a show with Humphrey Bogart.  And one of my Old Time Radio cohorts mentioned that Kendall was briefly in the running to take over the Charlie Chan film role after the death of Warner Oland (but Sidney Toler got the job).

Got an e-mail from Jeff Wells in September, 2002 with further details on Kendall's radio work which are referenced in the book Lux Presents Hollywood - A Show-by-Show History of the Lux Radio Theatre and the Lux Video Theatre, 1934-1957, by Connie Billips and Arthur Pierce (McFarland & Company, 1995):

"Cy Kendall - in his first of thirty two appearances on this radio show - portrayed Dr. Rossignol in the 11/23/36 episode, "The Story of Louis Pasteur," of the Lux Radio Theatre: "The Story of Louis Pasteur, which chronicles the struggles between the innovative French doctor (1822-95) and the established medical community, was brought to Lux on November 23, with Paul Muni and Fritz Leiber reprising their roles from the 1936 William Dieterle-directed film."

Kendall was a very busy man during the 1930s and 1940s.

Suffering from heart problems, Cy Kendall passed away on July 22, 1953 at the Motion Picture Home and Hospital, Woodland Hills, California.

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Index and the death certificate provide more on Cy Kendall:

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Cy Kendall: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0447580/

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website confirms that Kendall is interred at Mountain View Cemetery, Altadena, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6910103

Bill Hillman's site on Edgar Rice Burroughs has the cast listings of the early Tarzan radio shows (which include Kendall): http://members.tripod.com/Hillmans/erbz143.html



Back to prior page