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.

Hal Price

Full name:
Harry Franklin Price

"Happy" Hal Price

1886 - 1964

Hal Price was a vaudevillian and a comedian and actor in traveling stock companies during the 1900s - 1920s. We find "Happy" Hal Price touring with E. B. Jepson's Jolly Players, the Kelly and Brennen Traveling Show, and other repertory companies. He was also part owner of the Cornell-Price players which featured actress Florence Madeira (and an ad for the Cornell-Price players from 1914 is shown on the right). Some newspaper articles imply that Hal and Florence were married.

As vaudeville faded away, Price settled on a film career which began around 1930 and continued into the early 1950s. Short, pudgy and balding, he generally wore a vest, suit, or bartender's apron, and his primary roles were that of the local law officer, townsman, mayor, store owner, ranch owner, barkeep, etc.

Price was married three (or four) times:

• perhaps to Florence Madeira, his leading lady and co-star in his traveling show days.
• Eleanor Fitzsimmons (mother of Harry Franklin Price Jr. who was born in 1917).
• Amy F. Goodrich (mother of May Lou Price who was born in 1926). They married in 1923. The funeral notice for Amy F. Price mentions she retired from the stage in 1929 and passed away on July 5, 1939 from a heart attack.
• Josephine ??? (Harry's wife at the time of his death).

Price's film work from the mid 1940s through the early 1950s is relatively light. The reason is that Hal Price was in the Victor Herbert play "The Red Mill" with runs in New York, Washington, D.C., and other locales. Price portrayed the innkeeper and newspaper reports indicate that he did over a thousand performances. There was a mention in the July 27, 1946 issue of Billboard: "Hal Price, who has been in pictures in Hollywood for several years, is with The Red Mill at the 46th Street Theater, New York."

Special thanks to Dale Crawford, Nick Curry and Jim Sorensen for the following death certificate information on Hal Price:

Harry F. 'Hal' Price was born June 24, 1886 in Ohio to John Price and Angy Vine Price.  He passed away from arteriorsclerosis (heart disease) at the age of 77 on April 15, 1964, at the Glendale Sanitarium, Glendale, California.  Price was cremated and interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale California.  His wife's name was Josephine, and her occupation was 'PBX instructor'.  He had resided in California for 30 years (which would equate to 1934); his home address was 1427 Carroll Avenue, Los Angeles; and his occupation and last employer was 'actor' and Columbia Pictures.

(Old Corral webmaster note: as a retired 'Ma Bell' employee, my guess is that Mrs. Price was a switchboard trainer for Pacific Bell Telephone.)

Les Adams has Price in 256 sound era films, of which 147 are westerns and 4 are serials. Les adds some further details on Price's film career:

Interesting in that his employer (on the death certificate) was listed as Columbia, although he was only in 17 westerns for them and they were mostly far between and across twenty years of western film appearances --- but his first (WESTERN CODE, 1932, Tim McCoy) and his last (JUNCTION CITY, 1952, Charles Starrett) were made there.

He was in more feature films in the 30's than westerns.  He made about a half-dozen John Wayne and Bob Steele Monograms in 1933-34, a few Larry Damour Columbia westerns with Ken Maynard, Bob Allen and Jack Luden in the 1935-37 years (along with some indie stuff), with most of his 1937-1940 westerns for Monogram and Republic. He was nearly a fixture at Monogram and PRC primarily in the 1940-1942 period with some scattered roles at Republic. From then on, it was nearly all Republic with a few at Columbia. Scattered again is the term for his Columbia westerns as there was a seven-year gap between his next-to-last (RETURN OF THE DURANGO KID, 1945) and last (JUNCTION CITY, 1952) at that studio.

Offhand, I can recall only a couple of out-and-out henchie roles and only three or so where he was the 'Brains' gang leader.  The majority of his roles were some kind of town leader or businessman or rancher. He did bartend in at least a dozen saloons, but was also a lawman (Sheriff, Marshal, et al) of some kind at least 45 times. Monogram let him do a few grizzly sidekick roles (maybe four or so) with Jack Randall, Tom Keene and Tex Ritter.

For westerns only, I have him working for: Republic (46 films), Monogram (36 films), PRC (20 films), Columbia (17 films), with the rest mostly indies. I've only spotted him in one Universal western (BAD MAN FROM RED BUTTE) and only one Hopalong Cassidy film.

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

The Internet Broadway Database has 1945-1947 productions of "The Red Mill", and you'll find Hal Price:

The Family Search website, newspapers, tradezines and the California Death Index have information on Hal Price and family:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has Harry Price interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, California:

Hal's daughter Lu Leonard (real name: May Lou Price)

  The Internet Movie Database has a record for singer and comic actress Lu Leonard (1927-2004) noting that her real name was May Lou Price and she was Hal Price's daughter:

The LA Weekly website has more information on Lu Leonard at:

The Los Angeles Times newspaper website has the obituary on Lu Leonard:

The Actor's Compendium has several images of Lu Leonard (May Lou Price):

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Fred Parker, Forrest Taylor, Johnny Mack Brown (all 'duded' up) and Hal Price in a lobby card from DESERT PHANTOM (A. W. Hackel/Supreme, 1936).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Earl Dwire (face hidden), Hal Price (with beard), Lois Wilde, Jack Randall, a bearded Chick Hannan and Ernie Adams in a crop from a lobby card from DANGER VALLEY (Monogram, 1937), Randall's third starring western. Handling both the producer and director chores was Bob Steele's father, Robert North Bradbury. Hal Price was Jack's sidekick in this one.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Hal Price, Charlie King and Robert Fiske in a scene from THE APACHE KID (Republic, 1941), one of the series starring Don Barry.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, from L-to-R are: Hal Price, Al 'Fuzzy' St. John, Frank Hagney and George Houston as Tom Cameron, the Lone Rider, in a lobby card from THE LONE RIDER FIGHTS BACK (PRC, 1941).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Bob Steele, Bob Livingston, William Farnum, Budd Buster, Hal Price and Wally West in a crop from a lobby card from the Three Mesquiteers' GANGS OF SONORA (1941).

(Courtesy of Bill Telfer)

Above from L-to-R are Dennis Moore, Christine McIntyre, Raymond Hatton and Johnny Mack Brown in WEST OF THE RIO GRANDE (Monogram, 1944).  In the background are Hal Price (purple shirt), and Steve Clark is standing behind Johnny Mack's hat.

Back to prior page