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.

Horace Murphy

Full name:
William Horace Murphy

1880 - 1975

(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)

Born in Tennessee, Horace Murphy did his early acting in showboats and tent shows, and wound up owning a couple of movie theaters in California. I have newspaper advertisements and articles from 1918-1930 with Horace as the owner, star, director and producer of his "Murphy's Comedians" traveling show. The ad crop on the right is from a 1929 performance in California.

His cinema career began around 1935 when he was in his mid fifties. He appeared primarily in B westerns and he generally portrayed a long-winded and pompous judge, lawman, townsman, storekeeper, et al.

He also did some sidekick duties with Tex Ritter in his late 1930s Grand National films (portraying several blustery saddle pals, one named 'Stubby' and another named 'Ananias').

Les Adams has Murphy identified in about 120 sound films - that number includes 95 westerns and 2 serials. His film credits at Republic Pictures numbers about 40 during the period from 1936-1946, and all are westerns. However, about half of these are the A. W. Hackel/Supreme oaters starring Bob Steele and Johnny Mack Brown which were released under the Republic logo soon after the formation of Republic Pictures. Murphy's last screen appearance was around 1946.

Murphy had a rather unique voice and did radio work. You'll hear him as sidekick 'Buckskin Blodgett' in many of the Red Ryder radio shows (I have episodes from 1942-1948 with Murphy as 'Buckskin'). He also portrayed sidekick 'Clackety' on the Roy Rogers radio program - not sure how long he was on Roy's show but I do have one 1951 episode which feature Murphy. And on occasion, Murphy turned up on the Gene Autry Melody Ranch radio program. The Rogers, Red Ryder and Melody Ranch programs originated from California.

Speculation: note that Murphy's film work ended around 1946. Many of the radio shows that I have (with Horace) date from the mid 1940s into the 1950s. The Radio Gold Index (link below) also shows Murphy in programs during that same post-1946 time period. Perhaps Murphy found that radio work was safer, or easier, or more consistent, or better paying than films ... and so he gave up one medium and specialized in the other.

Go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral, and then click the link for the California Death Index. There you will find a record for: William H. Murphy, birthdate and location of 6/3/1880 and Tennessee, and he passed away on 1/20/1975. There is a corresponding record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

The January 22, 1975 Los Angeles Times newspaper had a two-line funeral announcement/interment location:
MURPHY, W. Horace
Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills.

The Circus Historical Society covered Murphy's passing in their Circus Report issue number 6 dated February 10, 1975: "HORACE MURPHY (93) of the Murphy's Comedians, a dramatic tent show on the west coast, died at a nursing home in North Hollywood (Cal.) on Jan. 20th. His wife, Peggy, survives."
You can download that Circus Report (in pdf format) from:\

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

J. David Goldin's RadioGoldIndex website has a listing of 1944-1953 programs in which Horace Murphy appeared (such as Lux Radio Theater, Granby's Green Acres, Red Ryder, Roy Rogers, more). When you get to the site, click "Start Here", then select "Search By Artist", then select M, then scroll down for Horace Murphy radio credits:

The Family Search website has information on Horace Murphy:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for Horace Murphy at Forest Lawn Memorial Park - Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California:

The official Gene Autry website has a circa 1940 photo of Gene with Horace Murphy from the Melody Ranch radio program:

Appears scuttlebutt is true about the "Murphy's Comedians" fielding a baseball team. Here's a 1916 article about the "Murphy's Comedians" besting Izzy's Bakersfield Tigers 6-2 in a game in Bakersfield, California. Looks like Horace Murphy played center field (with three at bats, struck out twice, no hits, no runs):,5057206&dq=murphy%27s-comedians&hl=en

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are heroine Lois January, Horace Murphy, and Johnny Mack Brown in a still from ROGUE OF THE RANGE (A. W. Hackel/Supreme, 1936).

(Courtesy of Tom Bupp)

Seated from left to right are youngster Tommy Bupp, Marjorie Reynolds and Tex Ritter, and in the background are Tex's sidekicks, the moustached Snub Pollard and Horace Murphy. From TEX RIDES WITH THE BOY SCOUTS (Grand National, 1937), and this scene occurs at the finale.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Before his days with Arkansas 'Slim' Andrews at Monogram, Tex Ritter's most frequent screen pal was Horace Murphy (above, right) who portrayed characters named 'Stubby' or 'Ananias'.  On the left is silent clown Snub Pollard, who was also a helper to Tex, and went by the moniker of 'Pee Wee'. This is from ROLLIN' PLAINS (Grand National, 1938).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Charlie King (as 'Henchman Badger') and Tex Ritter go at it in the saloon brawl from UTAH TRAIL (Grand National, 1938). In the upper right are Ritter's helpers, Horace Murphy (tall hat) and Snub Pollard (handlebar moustache). Sandwiched between Murphy and Pollard is George Morrell, and wearing the dark suit jacket and hat in the photo center is Fred Parker. On the far left is Denver Dixon/Victor Adamson.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above, from L-to-R are Snub Pollard, Tex Ritter, and Horace Murphy in a still from FRONTIER TOWN (Grand National, 1938).


(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
John Elliott

Full name:
John Hugh Elliott

1876 - 1956

Iowa born John Elliott had a screen career that spanned about 35 years - his film credits begin around 1920 in silents and continue through the mid 1950s. He learned his trade in traveling repertory companies and stock theater. There are early traces of John H. Elliott in Variety, the New York Clipper and other publications - following are a few highlights:

In films, Elliott portrayed an occasional bad guy. But he most often was the mild mannered father of the heroine, a judge, a ranch owner, a storekeeper, the owner of the local newspaper, etc. Seems that if a kind, old face was needed in a western, they employed Elliott ... or Lafe McKee, Frank LaRue or Steve Clark. And kindly oldtimers that did nice guy roles were often killed off in the early reels. That happened to Elliott ... often.

Elliott's dialog delivery was clear and concise, probably due to years of stage experience ... though I often felt that he was too soft spoken and a bit monotone.

Les Adams has Elliott identified in about 250 sound era films, and that includes 121 westerns and 14 cliffhangers.

John H. Elliott took up residence at the St. Moritz Hotel in Los Angeles beginning in the mid 1930s. He passed away at the hotel on December 12, 1956 from heart problems. His remains were given to the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy.

Got an e-mail from Dan Bates in July, 2001 about his chance meeting with John Elliott around 1954. Dan writes:

"I must have encountered this very familiar face from B-Westerns just before his death. Circa 1954, my parents and I were tourists visiting Hollywood, and we stayed in a motel on Hollywood Boulevard, several blocks down the street from the Pantages. We took to having breakfast every morning in a corner restaurant --- nothing fancy, as I recall --- and, one morning, my late father spotted Elliott sitting at the counter, and urged me into asking the old actor for his autograph. I quickly mustered some sufficient courage --- I was, after all, only 16 years old --- and did so. (I have long since misplaced that autograph, it saddens me to report.) The next day, our regular waitress told us that Elliott was absolutely thrilled that a youth of my age actually knew who he was."

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on John Elliott. The IMDb biography was written by Elliott's great-great granddaughter and mentions that he lost his mother Sarah and sister Fanny in a 1897 bout with typhoid; and in 1899, he and first wife Cleo had twins (named Donald and Dorothy). However, I found no 1910 census on Elliott and there were no children listed for him in the 1920 census:

The Internet Broadway Database has John H. Elliott in the 1917-1918 New York run of "Eyes of Youth":

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), newspapers, California Death Index and the death certificate provide more on John Elliott and family. He was married three (or four) times. Marriage one and two were to Cleo Myrtle Kelley and stage actress Edith T. Fassett.

There is confusion with his last wife ... or wives. There is a Jane Faulkner as well as Jane C. Hinckley. Elliott's biography in the 1931, 1932, and 1937-1938 editions of the Motion Picture Almanac list his spouse as Jane Faulkner, non-professional (meaning not in the acting business). But there is 1925 marriage announcement as well as obituaries from 1937 for wife Jane C. Elliott/Jane C. Hinckley. Unsure if these "two Janes" are the same or separate individuals.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are John Elliott, Bill Cody and Hank Bell looking over Iron Eyes Cody. In the right background are Sheila Mannors and Andy Shuford. From Cody's TEXAS PIONEERS (Monogram, 1932).

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Above from L-to-R are Vane Calvert, Bob Custer, Victoria Vinton, Eddie Phillips, John Elliott and Wally Wales/Hal Taliaferro in a lobby card from Custer's AMBUSH VALLEY (Reliable, 1936).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Eddie Phillips, Denver Dixon (aka Victor Adamson), Bob Custer, John Elliott and Jack Evans taking a left to the jaw in a scene from Custer's AMBUSH VALLEY (Reliable, 1936).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Walter Miller, Ken Maynard, Beth Marion and John Elliott in Maynard's THE FUGITIVE SHERIFF (Larry Darmour/Columbia, 1936).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Rin-Tin-Tin Jr., Victoria Vinton, Bob Custer, John Elliott - and prone on the floor is Wally West - in a scene from Custer's VENGEANCE OF RANNAH (Reliable, 1936).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Joan Barclay (billed as Geraine Greear), Art Felix, Tom Tyler, Buck Morgan, Francis Walker, Jack Evans (moustache), John Elliott, unidentified player, and on the ground is Roger Williams.  Scene from Tyler's RIDIN' ON (Reliable, 1936).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from left to right are Max Terhune, John Elliott, John King, Sheila Darcy and Ray Corrigan in a scene from TUMBLEDOWN RANCH IN ARIZONA (Monogram, 1941). Darcy was "Volita" the female lead in the serial ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION (Republic, 1939) and she portrayed the "Dragon Lady" in the TERRY AND THE PIRATES (Columbia, 1940) cliffhanger. She married movie actor Preston Foster in 1946 and they were together until his death in 1970.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - a lobby card from TUMBLEDOWN RANCH IN ARIZONA (Monogram, 1941) showing John Elliott, John King, Sheila Darcy and Ray Corrigan. Appears that King isn't happy with Corrigan's interest in Sheila.

Here's a mystery for you - there's a bunch of these type lobby cards in circulation. But there is no Monogram brand name or logo. They have a common layout showing Corrigan and his twin six-shooters on the left side, and the only variation is the colors that are used (black plus a couple other colors). An approximate 6 1/2 inch x 8 1/2 inch scene still is glued on the card stock. Les Adams recalled that a company in Oklahoma circa 1935-1942 made up their own posters and cards and rented/leased them to theatres cheaper than the exhibitors could get them from National Screen Service or the company exchanges.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Lee Powell, John Elliott and Karl Hackett in the Frontier Marshals trio adventure, ROLLING DOWN THE GREAT DIVIDE (PRC, 1942).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is the title lobby card to BORDER ROUNDUP (PRC, 1942), one of PRC's Lone Rider adventures starring tall and melodious George Houston. On the left is Houston with the drop on I. Stanford Jolley. On the right is heroine Patricia Knox assisting injured John Elliott. Notice the billing for Dennis Moore as "Smoky Moore".

Back to prior page