|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.|
1905? or 1906? - 1962
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above from L-to-R are John 'Dusty' King, Fred Toones, Charlie King, Rex Lease, Bud Osborne, Glenn Strange and Max Terhune in a lobby card from HAUNTED RANCH (Monogram, 1943), one of the Range Busters' adventures. The scene in this lobby card is just prior to the closing brawl ... then Fred Toones discovers the "Little Brown Jug" tune that must be played on the organ ... and playing the song opens a secret wall passage with the missing gold from the Denver Mint.
|Looking back on B westerns and serials - and Hollywood films in general - it was common to typecast performers based on their race, ethnicity, etc. This was a time of Hollywood stereotypes - for example, "all Indians were vicious, rampaging savages" and the "U. S. Cavalry were good guys and always saved the day".
One of the more familiar performers of this period was black actor Fred Toones. Toones used a screen nickname of "Snowflake", and his roles were generally that of a servant, porter, cook, et al and he worked in various A and B grade films which includes some westerns and cliffhangers.
Les Adams has Fred identified in about 180 sound films, and of that total, 54 are westerns and 7 are serials.
In the mid 1930s, youngster Frankie Darro did a series for producer Maurice Conn (Conn Productions and Ambassador Pictures) and Frankie's adult helpers were Leroy Mason (billed as Roy Mason) followed by Kane Richmond. Ten films were released during 1935-1937 and Fred Toones appeared in about half the entries.
During the period from 1936-1947, Toones worked in about 40 films at Republic Pictures, most of which were uncredited walk-on or bit parts. Director William Witney's autobiography mentions that Toones ran the shoeshine stand at Republic studios.
A good example of Toones in an A grade film is his portrayal of "Rufus", the butler and cook to District Attorney Fred MacMurray in REMEMBER THE NIGHT (Paramount, 1940) which co-starred Barbara Stanwyck.
Though his roles were often demeaning, Fred Toones was one of the prolific supporting players in B westerns and cliffhangers. As such, he deserves a spot on the Old Corral.
Biographical info on Toones notes that he was born in North Carolina in 1905 or 1906, and passed away in California in 1962. I was unable to locate any info in the California Death Records database or the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) under name variations Toones, Toons, Toon, Toone, etc. However, I did find dual records in the California Death records database for: Fred Toomes and Snowflak[sic] Toomes (both entries had his last name spelled with an M not an N). The Social Security number was the same for both, and he was born 1/5/1906 in North Carolina, and passed away on 2/13/1962. There was no obituary or funeral notice for a person with the last name of Toones at ProQuest obituaries or Newspaper Archives.
The Family Search website has more on Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, including two marriages:
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a record for Fred 'Snowflake' Toones who passed away on February 13, 1962 and is interred at Lincoln Memorial Park, Carson, Los Angeles County, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=toones&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=83372676&df=all&
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Fred Toones: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0867560/
(Above pressbook ad courtesy of Les Adams)
|SOCIAL ERROR was released in 1935, and was one of several films that young Dave Sharpe did for producer William Berke.|
Note Sharpe's billing as the more formal 'David Sharpe'.
Fred Toones is listed as "Snowflake".
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is the pressbook cover for HAIR-TRIGGER CASEY (Atlantic, 1936), one of the final starring roles for Jack Perrin. Note Toones' photo in the bottom right corner of the pressbook, but he is not listed among the cast members. A larger version of the inset photo of Toones is shown above left.
(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)
Above is a still from the Don Barry THE TULSA KID (Republic, 1940). From left to right are Matty Roubert, Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, Luana Walters, Ethan Laidlaw, George Douglas, Noah Beery Sr., John Beach and Jack Kirk.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Milton Kibbee, Don Barry, and Fred Toones in Barry's TWO-GUN SHERIFF (Republic, 1941). Milt Kibbee's brother was Hollywood actor Guy Kibbee.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above from L-to-R are Rex Lease, Fred Toones, Julie Duncan, John 'Dusty' King, and Max Terhune in a scene from HAUNTED RANCH (Monogram, 1943).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is a blurb from the pressbook for the Range Busters' LAND OF HUNTED MEN (Monogram, 1943), and mentions that John King and Dave Sharpe had departed for World War II duty ... and Dennis Moore had joined the series and Ray Corrigan was returning. Note the ending sentence: "and the colored comedian, Snowflake."