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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.


Jack 'Pappy' Kirk

Real name:
John Asbury Kirkhuff

1895 - 1948


(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)


Special thanks to Belinda Kirkhuff, Jack Kirk's granddaughter, for photos and the help and assistance in the preparation of this webpage on her grandfather. Thanks also to Louise and Jim O'Donnell for photos and information. Jim's mother was Virginia Kirkhuff, Jack Kirk's daughter.


One of the most familiar faces of the B western was Jack Kirk. If you view the Prolific Performers page from Les Adams, you'll see that Kirk has 350+ credited and uncredited appearances in sound films, most of which were series westerns and cliffhangers. During a career that lasted about twenty years, Kirk worked with most of the B western heroes and did films for most of the major and minor production companies. Les ran some statistics from his trusty database and Kirk worked most often with: the Three Mesquiteers (at least 33 films), Roy Rogers (at least 31 films), Gene Autry (at least 26 films), and Bill Elliott (at least 23 films at both Columbia and Republic).

Kirk's death certificate shows his birth year as 1895 and birthplace as Nickerson, Kansas.

His film career began in the mid 1920s silents. Kirk had a good singing voice and when talkies arrived, he and other members of various singin' groups would do musical numbers ... and he can be seen (and heard) in films such as HEADIN' FOR TROUBLE (Big 4, 1931) starring Bob Custer, OUTLAW JUSTICE (Majestic, 1932) with Jack Hoxie, TELEGRAPH TRAIL (Warners, 1933) with John Wayne, and SUNDOWN RIDER (Columbia, 1933) with Buck Jones.

Kirk also provided the singing voice for several sagebrush heroes that couldn't carry a tune - for example, he did the song that was mouthed by Jack Hoxie in GUN LAW (1933 Majestic). And in more recent times, Jack Kirk has been recognized as the singing voice of young John Wayne in such films as THE MAN FROM UTAH (Lone Star/Monogram,1934) and LAWLESS RANGE (Republic, 1935).

Based on the quantity of his film appearances, Kirk was one of many supporting players who were solid and dependable. Thus, he worked often and at various production companies and studios.  Generally, his roles were that of a gang member, henchman, or a ranchhand. As he grew older, he seemed to change his costume to a suit - or at least a vest - and portray a lawyer, townsman, or sheriff. Kirk also had the talent and expertise to handle a team of horses, and he was often seen driving a stage or wagon.

During the 1940s, Kirk was one of Republic's stable of baddies and supporting players, and he was under a term contract(s) with Republic from July, 1943 through July, 1944. His film credits at Republic number about 180 from 1935 - 1948.

Jack and wife Ethel Irene Mason Kirkhuff had eight children (five daughters), and because of that, Kirk's Hollywood cohorts gave him the nickname of "Pappy".

As the B western began to fade in the latter half of the 1940s, Kirk found it difficult to find work and make ends meet. He had always wanted to work on a fishing boat and, since he wasn't making enough money from films to support his family, he left the movie business and went to Alaska. He was working at shoveling fish on a boat one night and had a massive heart attack and passed away. He is buried at Valhalla Cemetery in Glendale, California.

There's a section on the Old Corral devoted to the various musical and singing groups in the ol' B western. You can read more about Jack Kirk and the groups which called themselves the Arizona Wranglers, Range Riders, Radio Buckaroos, Wranglers, and possibly other name variations, and the webpage on them is HERE.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Jack Kirk: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0456480/

The Family Search website has info on Kirk and family:




(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)

The date of the above photo is unknown, but probably circa 1934-35. Best guess is that this is the Range Riders, not the group known as the Arizona Wranglers. Has to be 1935 or earlier as Jack Jones' movie career ended when he suffered a severe leg injury during the filming of a wagon chase in THE DAWN RIDER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935), which starred John Wayne.

L-R in the back row - Jack Kirk, unknown (white shirt, standing, possibly Ace Spriggins), Hilo Pete McKinney (white shirt w/ guitar, sitting), Oscar Gahan (w/ fiddle), unknown, Jack Jones.

L-R in the front row - Glenn 'Pee Wee' Strange (kneeling & whittling), Curtis 'Cactus Mack' McPeters (kneeling w/ guitar), Sheriff Loyal Underwood.

Jack Jones also has a copy of the above print, and on the back of his photo are names of most of the faces along with the following nicknames: Jack Jones (Pocatello Kid), Jack Kirk (Pecos) and Pete McKinney (Hilo Pete).



(Courtesy of Louise and Jim O'Donnell)


Above and right are a very young Jack Kirk and his wife Ethel, circa 1915, and these photos were probably taken at the time of their engagement or wedding.
 

(Courtesy of Louise and Jim O'Donnell)



(Courtesy of Louise and Jim O'Donnell)

Above is Jack and trusty pooch - photo is probably from mid 1930s.




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Betty Boyd, Mary Carr, Archie Ricks, Harry Todd, Jack Kirk, and Bob Burns in a scene from Jack Hoxie's GUNLAW (Majestic, 1933) which starred Jack Hoxie.



(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)

Kirk collected photos and autographs from the actors he worked with. Above is an autographed photo from Smiley Burnette. Note the inscription "To Pappy".



(Courtesy of Jack Jones)

From L-to-R are Chuck Baldra, Jack Jones, hero Reb Russell is in the middle (with his drawstring shirt with horseshoes on the collar), then Jack Kirk, and on the far right is Yakima Canutt in a scene from FIGHTING THROUGH (Willis Kent, 1934), Reb's second starring film.  Some additional info follows on Baldra, Jones, Kirk and others:

Jack Jones had a couple of films as part of a singing group and did some supporting roles and bit parts in early to mid 1930s westerns but was injured during the filming of THE DAWN RIDER, one of the John Wayne Lone Star westerns.  Chuck Baldra, beside being a mainstay third-or-fourth henchie in the late 30's and early 40's started out as part of a singing group that (under various names) also featured Jack Kirk, Glenn Strange and Curtis 'Cactus Mack' McPeters, or some combination thereof. And sometimes they didn't even have a name ... just cowhands or part of the outlaw gang singing around the ol' campfire.  There were many permutations of the western singing groups called the 'Arizona Wranglers' and 'Range Riders', and members during the early 1930s included Strange, McPeters, Baldra, Kirk and Jones.




(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

From left to right are Charlie/Charley Sargent, Jack Kirk, John Wayne, Cactus Mack McPeters, Chuck Baldra and Glenn Strange in a scene from Wayne's WESTWARD HO (Republic, 1935). On the far right is the non-singing Tex Palmer. In the film's opening titles, Glenn Strange is credited and "the Singing Riders" is listed under Strange's name. These "guys in black shirts" did double duty as singers as well as members of the "Singing Riders" who rode white horses and assisted Wayne. Below are crops/blowups showing the faces in more detail.

Below: Charlie/Charley Sargent, Jack Kirk, John Wayne, Cactus Mack McPeters.

Above: Chuck Baldra, Glenn Strange, and non-singing Tex Palmer.




(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above, lawman Jack Kirk, sans moustache, and Max Terhune in a scene from GUNSMOKE RANCH (Republic, 1937), one of the early Three Mesquiteers' adventures. Kirk and Terhune were about the same weight and height, and Kirk doubled Terhune in several of the Mesquiteers adventures.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are: Kermit Maynard, Smiley Burnette, Gene Autry, Fay McKenzie, Frank M. Thomas, Robert Homans, and Jack Kirk in a lobby card from SIERRA SUE (Republic, 1941). Tidbit: Frank M. Thomas was the father of Frankie Thomas, star of the cliffhanger TIM TYLER'S LUCK and TV's TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET.



(From Old Corral image collection)

From L-to-R are Robert 'Bobby' Blake as Little Beaver, Roy Barcroft, Jack Kirk, Tom London and Bill Elliott in a lobby card from CHEYENNE WILDCAT (Republic, 1944), one of the Red Ryder adventures.



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