|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 Jack Tillmany)
Paul Peter Fix
1901 - 1983
|Special thanks to Marilyn Carey for help and assistance in the preparation of this webpage on her father.|
He was 'Micah Torrance', the kindly lawman of North Fork, New Mexico in THE RIFLEMAN TVer ... he became close friends with John Wayne and did over two dozen films with the Duke ... he and Clark Gable became friends long before Gable became a star ... he was Harry Carey, Jr.'s father-in-law. All of these describe Paul Fix, one of the most visible faces in films.
Born in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Paul Peter Fix became entranced with the stage and performing and did vaudeville and plays. Marilyn confirmed the story about her dad being in multiple branches of the service during World War I. He was sixteen when he ran away from home and entered first the National Guard, then the Army, and wound up in the Navy. He hated marching. He was 'brought up' for court martial three times, but was honorably discharged.
And the answer is YES, Fix's real name was Paul Peter Fix. There's several websites that somehow have him listed as Paul Fix Morrison (perhaps they incorrectly picked up John Wayne's real last name because Fix was a friend of Wayne). I confirmed Paul's name with his daughter Marilyn during April, 2001, as I was prepping this webpage.
Fix wound up in Hollywood in the mid 1920s. He never portrayed the hero, but during a film and TV career that spanned about 55 years, he developed into a steady and talented character actor doing a variety of roles, from the sympathetic 'Marshal Torrance' in THE RIFLEMAN to wise-cracking gangsters.
My personal recollections of Fix's roles, especially during the 1930s, are of two types:
1) the brother/friend of the hero or heroine who gets into trouble.
2) a tuxedo clad member of the underworld.
The story goes that Fix and Wayne became friends in the 1930s, and the veteran coached and gave acting lessons to the young Wayne. They met around 1931 when both were working at Fox. Fix also did several oaters with Wayne during his brief B-western series at Warners and his longer-running group for Paul Malvern's Lone Star Production unit which were released through Monogram. Fix's last movie with Wayne was CAHILL: UNITED STATES MARSHAL (1973).
As Fix got older and his face became more lined, his roles tended to become more sympathetic and less criminal. And during the 1950s through 1970s, he often portrayed doctors, lawman, military officers and Indians. Some of Fix's better roles from this later period include: playing the doctor father of Elizabeth Taylor in GIANT; portraying 'Judge Taylor' in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962); as 'Frank Briscoe' in THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (1954); as 'Dr. Witherspoon' in SHENANDOAH (1965).
THE RIFLEMAN TV series ran from 1958-1963 on ABC, and the star was Chuck Connors with Johnny Crawford playing the son. As I recall, the early episodes had R. G. Armstrong as the town law officer, but he left or was killed off. Fix came in as 'Marshal Micah Torrance' and appeared in most of the 168 episodes. In addition to THE RIFLEMAN, Fix did scores of TV shows, including GUNSMOKE, THE LONE RANGER, BATTLESTAR GALATICA, more. There are also a couple of special mentions: he was 'Dr. Mark Piper' in the first STAR TREK pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Apparently he was offered the role as the starship's doctor but opted not to take the job (which ultimately was filled by DeForest Kelley). And he made several appearances on the PERRY MASON TV show as a country prosecutor type named 'District Attorney William Hale'.
Fix's last work before the camera was in 1979, and marked the end of a career that lasted over half a century. While he often portrayed hoods and no-goods, Paul Fix was a genuine nice guy. He passed away on October 14, 1983, from kidney failure.
You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral and then to the California Death Records database. There you will find a record for: Peter Paul Fix, born 3/13/1901 in New York, and he passed away on 10/14/1983. There is a corresponding record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).
Les Adams has Fix identified in about 225 sound era films, and of this number, 77 are westerns. Surprisingly, Fix made no serials. Les adds: "Fix was a writer --- saw TALL IN THE SADDLE again recently and always thought it was one of the best of the 40's Waynes in that everybody seemed to be playing it straight and semi-tongue in cheek at the same time. Plus the whole cast seemed to be just having a good time. Fix had a co-screenplay on that, plus co-story/screenplay on Warner's RING OF FEAR, and he had, in addition to playing the title role, story credit on Republic's THE NOTORIOUS MR. MONKS."
I asked Marilyn about her dad's 'writing', and she replied: "He wrote many plays and produced them in Hollywood and directed some of them. He was a 'script doctor' for Duke in the forties, and wrote a lot. It wasn't just a hobby, although I guess the play thing could be considered such. Duke was in one and was terrified. I am not sure they ever did more than the dress rehearsal."
In Republic Confidential, Volume 1, The Studio, Jack Mathis devotes a full chapter (on pages 418 - 433) to John Wayne and his several contracts with Republic Pictures. In Wayne's Republic agreement that ran from May, 1943 through October, 1945, Paul Fix was to be employed on each film as dialogue director and paid $200.00/weekly.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Paul Fix: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0280707/
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Paul Peter Fix and his wife Beverly Pratt Fix at the Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5783
Photo and info on Chuck Conners, Fix and THE RIFLEMAN TV series: http://members.tripod.com/~nana43/rifleman.html
If you're into STAR TREK, Fix portrayed Dr. Mark Piper on the second pilot episode titled "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (which featured Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman): http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Paul_Fix
There's a production still from the Gregory Peck TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Universal, 1962) at Liam's United States of Cinema blog. On the left is Jess Cavin with white hair and mustache and white suspenders sitting next to jury foreman Guy Wilkerson (of PRC's Texas Rangers). On the far right is presiding judge Paul Fix: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_34acDXkrjGI/TCys4PbtjxI/AAAAAAAAAAc/_Hei-PKCLfA/s1600/tkam1.jpg
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are John Wayne, Al Ferguson and Paul Fix in THE DESERT TRAIL (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935).
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above from L-to-R are Charles Brinley, Buck Jones, Charles K. French and Paul Fix in this re-release lobby card for THE CRIMSON TRAIL (Universal, 1935).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are George 'Commando Cody' Wallace, Wayne Morris, Mickey Simpson and Paul Fix in a lobby card from Morris' STAR OF TEXAS (Allied Artists, 1953).