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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.


Charles 'Charlie' Stevens

His full name is reported as: Charles George Stevens

Birth name: Carlos Stevens

1893 - 1964

Special thanks to Graham County, Arizona Historian Danny Haralson for help in this biography on Charlie Stevens.


Hollywood biographies - which are always suspect - have Charlie as the grandson of Apache Chief Geronimo. Not really.

He was born in Solomonville, Arizona in 1893. He reported his birth date as March 3, 1893 on his World War I draft registration and that date is also on his death certificate. However, May 15, 1893 is listed on his World War II draft registration. Charlie's parents were prominent Arizona political figure George H. Stevens and his second wife Eloisa Michalena/Michelena. Census, death certificates, etc. indicate that Eloisa and the Michalena/Michelena family were from the Sonora, Mexico area ... and were Mexican, not Native American. George and Eloisa had two children - sons Alberto (1886-1963) and Carlos (1893-1964). It appears the names of both sons were "Americanized" to Albert and Charles.

A teenaged Charlie may have worked for the Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West show. He found his way to California, and did his first movie role around 1914 when he was about twenty one years of age. His World War I draft registration in 1917 has him as an actor employed by "Tom Mix, Edendale, California". And there are many tradepaper articles about Charlie's friendship with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. ... and he appeared in most of the Fairbanks silents.

He married Lila Ethel Berry on May 25, 1917 in Los Angeles. Son Douglas C. Stevens was born in 1919 and scuttlebutt is that Douglas got his name because of Charlie's relationship with Fairbanks, Sr.

When talkies arrived, Stevens became typecast as an Indian, a half-breed, a Mexican bandit, a member of the Mexican Rurales ... and his persona was generally shifty and untrustworthy. While he had a variety of screen names, he is generally remembered for playing no-goods named "Breed" or "Injun something-or-other" (such as his portrayal of "Injun Joe" in TOM SAWYER (Paramount, 1930), which starred Jackie Coogan and Junior Durkin). Interestingly, he did the same role in two good Wyatt Earp westerns - Stevens was the alcoholic "Indian Charlie" in the Randolph Scott FRONTIER MARSHAL (20th Century Fox, 1939) as well as director John Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (20th Century Fox, 1946) which starred Henry Fonda.

In the 1950s, Stevens shows up in minor roles in lots of television programs including RIN TIN TIN, ZORRO, SGT. PRESTON, LONE RANGER, KIT CARSON, RANGE RIDER, more. His final film appearance was in THE OUTSIDER (Universal International, 1961). In that, Charlie is the father of Pima Indian Ira Hayes (played by Tony Curtis), one of the Marines that raised the flag on Iwo Jima.

Les Adams has Stevens in about 140 sound era films, and that number includes 55 westerns and 9 cliffhangers. Les adds:

"I always enjoyed Stevens as he seemed to take great delight in any deeds his boss asked of him with no questions asked. A perfect employee if ever there was one. And he usually had a suggestion or two (delivered with glee and anticipated high hopes) that made the original dirty-deed request pale in comparision."

I agree with Les. And it was always fun watching Charlie deliver dialog - he's slow and precise, almost to the point where I think he has a consistent dry mouth. As he got older, his face became more weathered and wrinkled, and it was easy to spot the crows feet by his eyes when he squinted during a quizzical or concerned look.

The movie and television career of Charles Stevens spanned nearly fifty years, from about 1914-1961.

He passed away at his home at 1926 N. Whitley Avenue, Los Angeles on August 22, 1964. There was a coroner's investigation and cause of death was arteriosclerotic heart disease. He was interred at Valhalla Cemetery.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Charles Stevens: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0828314/

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Stevens is interred in an unmarked grave at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10025951

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" website has more details on Charlie Stevens doing cliffhangers: http://filesofjerryblake.com/serial-henchmen/charles-stevens/

There's a bio on Stevens on the old Silents Majority website which has been saved at the Internet Archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20011101103143/www.mdle.com/ClassicFilms/FeaturedStar/perfor51.htm


(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)



(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)


More about Stevens, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Geronimo

Above - the March 15, 1919 issue of The Moving Picture World magazine (available at the Internet Archive website) had an article on Douglas Fairbanks and mentions Denver Dixon (AKA Victor Adamson), Frank Campeau, Charlie Stevens and a few others as members of the "Fairbanks' cowboys".

The IMDb has a "people working together" search function - Stevens did 25 films with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?at=0&roles=nm0001196,nm0828314&sort=release_date_us




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a mid-1930s trade publication biography on Stevens which is probably the basis for his various biographies and Internet sources listing him as the grandson of Geronimo.

He did identify Solomonville/Solomonsville, Arizona as his birth location when he filled out his World War I and World War II draft registrations (more on that on a subsequent webpage). The above also notes Stevens' friendship - or at least a strong business relationship - with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

As to him being the Geronimo's grandson - there is a half-page article in the October, 1927 issue of Photoplay magazine (available at the Internet Archive). It includes the recent announcement from Stevens that he was the grandson of Geronimo ... and he had kept that information secret for about 13 years. A crop from that 1927 article is shown below:



Charlie's mother was the second wife of George H. Stevens
Charles Stevens' father was George H. Stevens. He was born in Massachusetts circa 1844 and he served in the U. S. Infantry during the Civil War. George made his home in Arizona where he was a mail carrier, government scout, employee of the Indian Bureau, a cattleman and public official. He was a member of the legislature when Graham County, Arizona was formed. George was twice the Graham County sheriff, and was secretary of the Board/Commissioners of the Yuma Territorial Penitentiary. His nickname was "Little Steve".

Graham County Historian Danny Haralson authored the article "Charles Stevens - Gila Valleys Own Movie Star" at the Eastern Arizona Courier newspaper: http://www.eacourier.com/lifestyle/gila-valley-s-own-movie-star/article_16cd5514-6d76-11e1-abdb-0019bb2963f4.html

Below is an overview of Charlie and family from Danny Haralson:

"His father was married to Francesca first. She was the daughter of Apache White Mountain Chieftain Escetecela. George Stevens met her while he was serving the U.S. government as a mail rider at Fort Apache. She died in the county courthouse in which they were living on December 19, 1882. Sheriff George Stevens and Francesca had children James, Kittie, George H. and William.

Sheriff George Stevens was later married to Eloisa Michalana, daughter of Trinidad Michalena of Solomonville, Arizona. They had children Alberto and Carlos. Charles (Carlos) was never related to Geronimo and was actually half Hispanic rather than Native American."

(Courtesy of Danny Haralson)

Above - George H. Stevens
Children of George H. Stevens and his first wife Francesca/Francisca Stevens:

Hardly any information has been found on daughter Katarina/Kittie (born about 1875).

However, there are death certificates and interment info on the three male children of George H. and Francesca/Francisca Stevens at the Find A Grave website and the State of Arizona, Department of Health Services website:

James H. Stevens (about 1869-1947):
he passed away on October October 17, 1947 in San Carlos, Gila County, Arizona. His father was George H. Stevens (info from his death certificate). James H. Stevens is interred at Solomon Cemetery, Solomon, Graham County, Arizona: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=88227554

William Henry Stevens (about 1880-1943):
he passed away on May 24, 1943 in an automobile accident near Globe, Gila County, Arizona. His father was Geo. H. Stevens (info from his death certificate). William Henry 'Willie' Stevens is interred at San Carlos Cemetery, Gila County, Arizona: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=101208688

George H. Stevens (about 1881-1910), the son of George H. Stevens:
he passed away on October 21, 1910 in Douglas, Arizona. His father was George H. Stevens (info from his death certificate). George H. Stevens is interred at Calvary Cemetery, Douglas, Cochise County, Arizona: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=103693258

The State of Arizona, Department of Health Services website is at: http://genealogy.az.gov/

George H. Stevens married Eloisa Michelena/Michalena on January 22, 1884
in Solomonville, Arizona. Charles Stevens, future movie actor, was born in 1893.

Also available are interment information and death certificates on Charles (Carlos) and Alberto (Albert), the two sons of George H. Stevens and second wife Eloisa Michelena/Michalena.

Albert G. Stevens (1886-1963):
he passed away on June 19, 1963 in Safford, Graham County, Arizona. Parents were George H. Stevens and Eloisa Michelena (info from his death certificate.) Albert G. Stevens is interred at Solomon Cemetery, Solomon, Graham County, Arizona: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=114048390
The death certificate on Charlie's brother Albert is at the State of Arizona, Department of Health Services website at http://genealogy.az.gov/

Movie actor Charles Stevens (1893-1964):
he was born in Solomonville, Arizona in 1893. He reported his birth date as March 3, 1893 on his World War I draft registration and that date is also on his death certificate. However, his World War II draft registration has a May 15, 1893 date of birth. Charlie passed away at his home at 1926 N. Whitley Avenue, Los Angeles on August 22, 1964. (Info from his State of California death certificate.)




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above are Randolph Scott and Charlie Stevens in a WHEN THE WEST WAS YOUNG re-issue lobby card from 1951. That film was originally HERITAGE OF THE DESERT (Paramount, 1932).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Charles Stevens (as 'Captain Vargas'), Bob Livingston, Heather Angel and an unidentified player in a lobby card from THE BOLD CABELLERO (Republic, 1936), a film based on the Zorro character and Republic's first color film, done in 'Magnacolor'. Crop/blowup below with more details on the faces in this lobby card.





(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Eleanor Hansen, Tom Steele, Johnny Mack Brown, Ed Cassidy, William Royle, Charles Stevens (as 'Breed') and James Blaine in a scene from the cliffhanger FLAMING FRONTIERS (Universal, 1938). I don't think Stevens was 5' 10½" tall as noted in the bio above.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Stevens (as 'Breed') versus Johnny Mack Brown in the serial, THE OREGON TRAIL (Universal, 1939).



(Courtesy of Don Swinford)

Above - Chief Thunder Cloud (Victor Daniels) portrayed the famous Apache chief Geronimo in the 1939 Paramount film of the same name and is shown prominently in the left side of this lobby card. Star Preston Foster is in the small photo at the bottom left.  The photo inset shows from left to right: Andy Devine, Charlie Stevens, William 'Bill' Henry, Addison Richards, two unidentified players, Ellen Drew, Ralph Morgan (facing the crowd) and Preston Foster.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Stevens (as 'White Mountain'), Richard Arlen, Jennifer Holt, Ed Cassidy and Lee Shumway in a crop from a lobby card from BUFFALO BILL RIDES AGAIN (Jack Schwartz Productions, 1947).




(From Old Corral image collection)
Did Stevens have another career behind the camera?

A 'Charles Stevens' was the 'Property Master' on SONG OF OLD WYOMING (PRC, 1945), the Cinecolor oater which introduced singin' cowboy Eddie Dean and the black-garbed Al LaRue. On the left is the cast and crew from the SOW pressbook, and Stevens is listed toward the bottom. In other pressbooks for 1930s and 1940s films, a 'Charles Stevens' is listed among the production people.

To clear up this question, I sent off a note and photo to screenwriter and scriptwriter Frances Kavanaugh (who did SONG OF OLD WYOMING, and lots of others). Frances' reply was that Charles Stevens, the Property Master on SOW, was definitely NOT a Native American, and definitely NOT our Charles Stevens, actor.



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