|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.|
(Courtesy of John F. White)
Above, Dan White in one of his earliest roles as a henchman in Gene Autry's PRAIRIE MOON (Republic, 1938).
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above is a portrait still of White as 'Laredo' in the John Wayne epic, RED RIVER.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above is Dan White at the 1976 Florida Western Film Roundup.
Daniel M. 'Dan' White
1908 - 1980
|Special thanks to John F. White, Dan White's grandson, for help and assistance in the preparation of this webpage on his grandfather.|
Dan White was born on March 25, 1908 to George and Orpha White about 1 mile from the Suwannee River in Falmouth, Florida. Falmouth was a small sleepy town then, as it is still today. He was one of 12 siblings who were moved to Lakeland, Florida sometime around WW1. Lakeland is where Dan was introduced into show business in 1922 at the age of 14. He ran away from home when the show moved on, and traveled thousands of miles throughout the South in tent, minstrel, vaudeville and theater shows. Dan Performed on stage with his brother Willard for 9 years with a stock company in Tampa's old Rialto Theater. Actress Frances Langford worked with him during this time and it was Dan who told her to go to Hollywood. During this period he met Matilda 'Tilda' Mae Spivey on the stage, and married her on February 25, 1933. Tilda had a 2-year old child from a previous marriage by the name of Arthur 'Art' Grant Gifford. Times were tough, so Dan had to get out of show business for a while to make some real money. In 1934 he found work with the Conservation Corps in Homestead, Florida, but show business was always in his heart.
Dan knew he had what it took to 'make it' in Hollywood, so he decided to 'make the move' to California in 1935. They packed all their possessions into their Ford and started the long, arduous trek across the country. This was during the Great Depression, and money was very tight. They had to stop frequently in various cities across the country to make extra money to continue their journey. Dan was a very good auto mechanic and never had a problem finding this type of work wherever he went. This paid-off once during the filming of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. During the 'mob' scene, one of the cars they were to drive away in would not start. Dan opened the hood, stepped onto the front bumper, and had the car running in no time flat.
They lived in Panama City, Florida and Shreveport, Louisiana for a while. By the time they reached Texarkana, Arkansas in January 1937, they had to stop for a different reason this time. Tilda was carrying their unborn child, and it was showing signs that it could wait no longer. Tilda's sister Mary happened to live in Texarkana, and they were able to stay there for a few months until the baby was born, and big enough to travel. Their daughter June Larue White was born February 14, 1937. On April 1, 1937, Dan, Tilda, Art and June continued their journey to Hollywood. They arrived 16 days later, and found a house to rent just an eyeshot away from the HOLLYWOOD sign. They lived in this house for 23 years where many movie deals were made, and scripts were written ... right in their own living room!
Upon arrival in Hollywood, Dan had a hard time finding work and found himself down in Panama working on the Pan American Highway for 6 months. When he returned home in 1938, he found work with Republic Pictures. He made at least 6 movies with Republic in his first year alone! His first known film was a western titled PRAIRIE MOON with Gene Autry. Dan made $55.00 a week working on this production.
Over the years in Hollywood, Dan claimed to have made nearly 300 films, and 150 television appearances. About 70 percent of these were Westerns. Among his most well-known pictures were THE YEARLING, DISTANT DRUMS, RED RIVER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, GIANT, DUEL IN THE SUN, FOUR FACES WEST, JAILHOUSE ROCK, TOUCH OF EVIL and many more. Somehow during all this filming, Dan and Tilda found time to have their 3rd child --- Donald Curtis White was born November 9, 1941, just 28 days before Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Of course, the films that made him famous were his numerous appearances in B-western movies where he played the villain or henchie. His tough, high-cheekboned face with its tight-drawn, expressionless mouth and snake eyes chilled the blood of many a Saturday matinee-er in the '40s and '50s. Dan loved his work, especially all of his outdoor pictures. "Western pictures took people into the outdoors" Dan once said in an interview in 1974. "Western pictures are Americana ... this stuff really happened. The James Gang, The Hole in the Wall Gang, they were all real." Dan also recalled, "What you saw in a western picture, we actually had to do. In those days you had to do all your own stunts. I had four men killed right beside me once! And in those days you went behind a rock to change ... a far cry from the portable dressing rooms of today." Dan's movies were filmed all over the country, but most were shot on location all around the Los Angeles area, especially in the Santa Clarita Valley. You didn't have to travel far in those days to find a location suitable enough for a good B-western movie. Many films were made at the Monogram Ranch in Newhall, California (later owned by Gene Autry and called Melody Ranch). Newhall was a great filming location, and many of Dan's westerns were filmed there. His filming in Newhall wasn't limited to just westerns. He also appeared in SUDDENLY with Frank Sinatra, filmed on San Fernando Road in downtown Newhall.
In the '50s and '60s when the films started to 'dry up', Dan turned to television. He was in numerous episodes of GUNSMOKE, THE VIRGINIAN, RAWHIDE, THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, THE CALIFORNIANS, THE RIFLEMAN, and many others. He was offered the role of Sam the Bartender in GUNSMOKE, but he didn't want to commit to something like that. He told his best friend Glenn Strange to apply for the job, and the rest is history.
Dan lived in California for almost 40 years, but his real love was Florida where he grew-up. Upon his retirement, he returned home to Tampa, Florida, just down the street from the old Rialto Theater where it all started. He did guest appearances at film conventions such as the Western Film Round-Up, as well as television talk shows. He was frequently visited by his family from California until his death on July
7, 1980 at the age of 72.
Dan left behind three children and 12 grandchildren. Today, there are 7 great grandchildren who are constantly reminded about their great grandfather every time he appears on the television ... which is a weekly event in my home. Not only is he recognized and remembered for all his films, but will also be remembered as a great father and grandfather. He will be missed and loved forever.
John F. White
(Courtesy of John F. White)
Above from L-to-R are Dan White, William S. Hart, Dan's wife 'Tilda' holding Curtis (John's father). Standing in front is Nona Cooper (wife of Tex Cooper), and John's Aunt June. Nona was a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz.
Les Adams has White in about 150 films, and these include about 103 oaters and 7 serials.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Dan White: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0924643/
|(Courtesy of John F. White)
Above right is Dan White mixing it up with the masked Dave O'Brien in a lobby card from TRAIL OF TERROR (PRC, 1943), one of the Texas Rangers series. In this film, O'Brien plays his lawman self as well as his evil twin brother.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Jerry Fields, Al Ferguson, Dan White, Bud Osborne and Charlie King in a scene from the Ken Maynard HARMONY TRAIL (Mattox, 1944; re-released in 1947 by Astor as WHITE STALLION).
(Courtesy of John F. White)
Above right is White mixing it up with the singin' cowboy Eddie Dean in a scene that's probably from HARMONY TRAIL (Mattox, 1944; re-released in 1947 by Astor as WHITE STALLION). Note the checkerboard shirt that White is wearing --- the shirt matches what White is wearing in the above "five baddies" image from HARMONY TRAIL.
(Courtesy of John F. White)
Above are Dan White and Tex Cooper. Apparently White and Cooper were very close, and John White notes that the back of this photo has the following notation:
My Most Prized Still
Great Lawman + Artist
(Courtesy of Ken Jones)
Above, Tex Cooper in full regalia.
Full name: Judge Thomas Cooper
1876 - 1951
Ken Jones, co-author of Heroes, Heavies and Sagebrush provides some biographical info on Tex Cooper:
"Cooper was certainly one of the most picturesque characters in the western films. He appeared in many films in the background as a 'face in the crowd'. Resembling Buffalo Bill, he worked for him from 1892 through Cody's Wild West shows as they toured Europe and the USA.Tex was particularly proud that on his 30th birthday, Buffalo Bill presented a bust of himself inscribed Presented to Tex Cooper by W. F. Cody. Cooper was born on April 21, 1876 and died on March 29, 1951."
Les Adams has Cooper identified in 130+ films which includes 114 westerns and 10 cliffhangers. And the answer is 'yes' - Cooper did portray Buffalo Bill and an example is in the Lash LaRue adventure, KING OF THE BULLWHIP (Western Adventure Productions, 1950).
Death certificate provides more on Cooper - 74 year old Judge Thomas Cooper was born April 21, 1876 in Texas, and parents were Wilford Cooper (born Tennessee) and Lema Pair (born Tennessee). Occupation was "Actor - Motion Picture Industry". He passed away from a heart attack at his home at 6035 Carlton Way, Los Angeles on March 29, 1951. Wife Nona Cooper was the death certificate informant. Utter - McKinley was the funeral director, and burial at Valhalla Memorial Park. The California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - Judge Thomas Cooper was born 4/21/1876 and passed away on 3/29/1951.
A photo of Tex's midget wife Nona is in the section above on Dan White.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Tex Cooper: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0178416/
(Courtesy of Dale Crawford & Jim Sorensen)
|Left is the grave marker for Tex Cooper at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California, Lot #4, Section 9332.|
(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)
Above from L-to-R are Robert Walker, Frank Ellis, Dick Rush, Edmund Cobb, Charles Starrett, George Morrell (behind and right of Starrett). In the background on horseback are Steve Clark and Tex Cooper. Scene from TWO-FISTED SHERIFF (Columbia, 1937).
(From Old Corral image collection)
Standing from left to right in this still from FRONTIER OUTLAWS (PRC, 1944) are Kansas Moehring, Tex Cooper and star Buster Crabbe. Sitting from left to right are Al 'Fuzzy' St. John, Marin Sais, and Frances Gladwin. Gladwin was the heroine in four of Buster's PRC oaters. Marin Sais (1890-1971) began her film career in silents. She was married to Jack Hoxie but they divorced in 1925 after about five years of marriage.