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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.



(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Frank Ball

Real name:
Francis Mallory Ball, Sr.

1876 - 1968




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Ed Cassidy, Frank Ball and Johnny Mack Brown in a scene from COURAGEOUS AVENGER (A. W. Hackel/Supreme, 1935).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Lafe McKee, George Hayes (before his sidekick days as Windy and Gabby), Frank Ball, Bob Steele, and Ed Brady in a crop from a lobby card from GALLOPING ROMEO (Monogram, 1933).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Bob Steele, George Hayes and Frank Ball in a crop from a lobby card from GALLOPING ROMEO (Monogram, 1933).



Background

My late parents lived in Maryland (near Washington DC), and over the decades, we made many trips to see them. On a visit many, many years ago, we met one of their friends, a lady named Alice Ball.  At that time, I was writing stories about the western film for Classic Images, Favorite Westerns, etc., and somehow we got chatting about the ol' cowboy movies. Lo and behold, Alice mentioned that her dad was Frank Ball, and he did a bunch of westerns starring Bob Steele, Johnny Mack Brown, others. At home, I paged through all the film listings in Les Adams and Buck Rainey's Shoot Em Ups book for Frank Ball credits, and checked the list of titles against my collection of VHS tapes. I ran off a bunch of videos for Alice, and gave them to her at our next visit back East. Also gave her the filmography that I had compiled from Les and Buck's book. I jotted down notes from Alice about her dad, their time in California, how Frank got into films, etc., and transcribed those onto a word processing document. But it was done on a Commodore 64 computer (and a 5 1/4" floppy disk) - that Commodore 64 is long gone, and I apparently never printed out a copy of the Frank Ball writeup that I had given to Alice. Back in those days, I never guessed that I'd have a future need for that info.

I promised Alice that someday I'd do a story on her dad. Alice had a stroke and passed away in 1999. Here's the writeup, and my apologies for it being late.


The search for Frank Ball

A while back, author and Old Corral contributor Ken Jones had asked me if I had any info on Frank Ball. That was the nudge I needed, but for the life of me, I couldn't recall much of anything that Alice had told me. Too much time had passed. The only things I could vaguely remember were:

•  the Ball Family had some famous ancestors.
•  she and her father had returned to the Washington DC area around 1940 or so.
•  she (or the family) had donated some photos or portraits to the Smithsonian.
•  her father had become friends with someone who did western films (and I recall it being either producer A. W. Hackel of Supreme Pictures or scriptwriter/director Robert North Bradbury, the father of Bob Steele).

I jotted off a request to the Social Security Administration for a copy of Alice's Social Security application.  Info on her application follows:

Alice Dulany Ball, born 7/3/1913 in Washington, DC.
Father and mother's name: Francis Mallory Ball, Sr. and Alice Noble.
The application was dated 7/19/1941, and Alice (who was about 28 years old at the time) listed her occupation as a teaching assistant at the University of California in Los Angeles since 7/1/1940.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has a record for:

FRANCIS BALL
Residence: Washington, District Of Columbia, DC
Born 25 May 1876
Died Mar 1968
Issued: CA (Before 1951)

ALICE BALL
Residence: Washington, District Of Columbia, DC
Born 3 Jul 1913
Died 9 Jan 1999
Issued: CA (Before 1951)

FRANCIS BALL
Residence: Camarillo, Ventura, CA
Born 9 Aug 1907
Died 29 Dec 1992
Issued: CA (Before 1951)

The California Death Records has a record for:

BALL, FRANCIS MALLORY
Born 8/9/1907
Mother's Maiden name: NOBLE
Male
Birthplace: DIST. OF COLUMBIA
Residence: VENTURA
Death: 12/29/1992
Age at death: 85

Californian Jerry Schneider, who has the Movie Locations Webguide site, was able to check a database or two and found the following obituary clip:

January 5, 1993, Tuesday, Ventura County Edition, LA Times
SECTION: Metro; Part B; Page 5; Column 6
Ball, Francis M. Jr., 85, of Camarillo, retired geneticist at Cal State University Northridge. Conejo Mountain Memorial Park and Funeral Home, Camarillo.

In summary, the above records are for Alice, her brother Frank Jr., and her father, Frank Sr.


The Detective work continues ...

As we proceed further, you need to remember the middle names of both Alice and father Frank --- Alice DULANY Ball, Francis MALLORY Ball, Sr.

Click on http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.ball for the M. D. Ball Papers, Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and their collection on Mottrom Dulany Ball (1835-1887).  Their webpage includes the following biographical info:

Mottrom Dulany Ball (1835-1887) was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, and was educated at the College of William and Mary. He taught school until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he formed a cavalry company and rose to the rank of Colonel in the Confederate Army. After the war, he practiced law and founded the Virginia Sentinel, which folded in 1876. In January 1878, he was appointed Collector of Customs for Alaska, and moved to Sitka with his wife, Sallie Lewis Wright Ball, and children. In September of 1881, he was elected Alaska's first unofficial delegate to Congress. Ball served as U. S. District Attorney for Alaska from 1885 to 1887, and was the founding editor of the Alaskan, a Sitka newspaper.


Click on http://www.ourfamtree.org/browse.cfm/Mottrom-Dulaney-Ball/p326968 for the genealogy website on the Corbin and Ball families. That link will take you to the page on Mottrom Dulany Ball and wife Sally Lewis Wright. Note that one of their four children is Francis Mallory Ball (Frank Ball, the actor).

Remember that Alice was donating some portraits or photos to the Smithsonian? The several e-mail contacts I made with the Smithsonian were super helpful and responsive. Didn't take long to discover Alice's portrait donations. The below info came from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and the homepage for the National Portrait Gallery is at: http://www.npg.si.edu/


Accession Number: 1991-1172, ATitle:
Sitter: Lewis, James (b.1753,d.1788)Artist: Peale, Charles Willson (b.1741,d.1827)
Classification: PaintingMaterials:
Date: Dimensions: 78.8cm x 66cm (31" x 26")
Current Owner: Ball, Jr., Francis Mallory
Ball, Alice Dulany
Papp, Emma Matilda
Acquisition: Bequest of , 1949

Accession Number: 1991-1173, ATitle:
Sitter: Lewis, Jr., Warner (b.1747,d.1791)Artist: Peale, Charles Willson (b.1741,d.1827)
Classification: PaintingMaterials:
Date: Dimensions:
Current Owner: Ball, Alice DulanyAcquisition:

Accession Number: 1991-1171, A & BTitle:
Sitter: Lewis, Jr., Mrs. Warner (b.1739,d.1776)Artist: Peale, Charles Willson (b.1741,d.1827)
Classification: PaintingMaterials:
Date: Dimensions: 78.8cm x 66cm (31" x 26")
Current Owner: Ball, Alice DulanyAcquisition:

The significance of these paintings may be due to the renowned artist, Charles Willson Peale. The portraits are of James Lewis, Warner Lewis, Jr., and Mrs. Warner Lewis, Jr.  Mottram Dulaney Ball's wife Sallie may have been related to the Lewis family, but I have no further info at this time. The names 'James Lewis' and 'Warner Lewis, Jr.' from the above paintings are referenced in another genealogy site at rootsweb. Click on http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~marshall/esmd45.htm and scroll down that webpage and take a read at the sections numbered 9., 11., and 12.

When I checked the Smithsonian links in November, 2016, it appears these portraits are no longer there. The Charles Willson Peale portraits of James Lewis and Warner Lewis II are now at Colonial Williamsburg:
http://emuseum.history.org/view/objects/asitem/Exhibitions@57/104/title-asc?t:state:flow=64c91bc8-3dc7-43c2-a4c3-fd57bf244b22
http://emuseum.history.org/view/objects/asitem/Objects@33715/6/displayDate-desc;jsessionid=6D379FEB3F08C313C271C4B235E397B2?showSite=mobile

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery has another portrait donated by Alice Dulany Ball: http://npg.si.edu/object/npg_S_NPG.2000.4


Frank Ball Filmography
Westerns are in black, non-westerns in red
Filmography provided by Les Adams
Updated: July, 2001


Date Title Company Prod. Director Star Ball Role
4/12/31 PUEBLO TERROR , THE Cosmos Robert J. Horner Alan James Buffalo Bill Jr. Dan Foster
2/1/32 TANGLED FORTUNES Big 4 Burton King J. P. McGowan Buzz Barton John Davis
2/10/32 MARK OF THE SPUR Big 4 Burton King J. P. McCarthy Bob Custer Express Agent
2/22/32 MURDER AT DAWN Big 4 Burton King Richard Thorpe Jack Mulhall Prof. Farrington
4/1/32 MAN FROM NEW MEXICO, THE Monogram Trem Carr J. P. McCarthy Tom Tyler Mr. Langton
4/10/32 SCARLET BRAND, THE Big 4 Burton King J. P. McCarthy Bob Custer John Walker
10/28/32 FORTY-NINERS, THE Monarch Burton King J. P. McCarthy Tom Tyler MacNabb
12/15/32 FIGHTING CHAMP, THE Monogram Trem Carr J. P. McCarthy Bob Steele Fred Mullins
1/15/33 WHEN A MAN RIDES ALONE Monarch Burton King J. P. McGowan Tom Tyler Jack "Dad" Davis
7/5/33 GALLOPING ROMEO Monogram Paul Malvern Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele Sheriff
8/15/33 RANGER'S CODE Monogram Trem Carr Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele Rancher
7/30/34 STAR PACKER, THE Lone Star Paul Malvern Robert N. Bradbury John Wayne Townsman
11/10/34 ST. LOUIS KID, THE Warners Samuel Bischoff Ray Enright James Cagney Police Broadcaster
2/1/35 TEXAS TERROR Lone Star Paul Malvern Robert N. Bradbury John Wayne Dan Matthews
3/8/35 BIG CALIBRE Supreme A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele Jim Bowers
3/15/35 RAINBOW VALLEY Lone Star Paul Malvern Robert N. Bradbury John Wayne Powell
4/22/35 DESERT TRAIL, THE Lone Star Paul Malvern Lew Collins John Wayne Banker Jake
8/1/35 ARIZONA TRAILS Superior Victor Adamson Al James (V.A.) Bill Patton Dad Randolph
8/1/35 SUNDOWN SAUNDERS Supreme A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele Mr. Manning
8/2/35 BOOTHILL BRIGADE Supreme A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Johnny Mack Brown Mr. Murdock
10/5/35 NEW FRONTIER, THE Republic Trem Carr Carl Pierson John Wayne Ted
11/29/35 BETWEEN MEN Supreme A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Johnny Mack Brown Gentry aka Winters
12/13/35 COURAGEOUS AVENGER, THE Supreme A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Johnny Mack Brown M. H. Davis
1/25/36 VALLEY OF THE LAWLESS Supreme A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Johnny Mack Brown Amos Jenkins
2/5/36 KID RANGER , THE Supreme A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele Brokaw
3/10/36 DESERT PHANTOM Supreme A. W. Hackel S. Roy Luby Johnny Mack Brown Townsman
4/25/36 ROGUE OF THE RANGE Supreme A. W. Hackel S. Roy Luby Johnny Mack Brown Express Agent John
5/10/36 LAST OF THE WARRENS Supreme A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele Liverman Jake
6/1/36 FUGITIVE SHERIFF, THE Columbia Larry Darmour Spencer G. Bennet Ken Maynard Prospector
8/15/36 BRAND OF THE OUTLAWS Supreme A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele Doctor
9/24/36 UNDERCOVER MAN Republic A. W. Hackel Albert Ray Johnny Mack Brown Express Agent
12/28/36 BORDER PHANTOM Republic A. W. Hackel S. Roy Luby Bob Steele Prof. Andrew Hartwell
1/10/37 RANGER COURAGE Columbia Larry Darmour Spencer G. Bennet Bob Allen Sam
2/9/37 GUN RANGER, THE Republic A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele The Judge
2/15/37 GAMBLING TERROR, THE Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Johnny Mack Brown Mr. Garrett
3/29/37 TRAIL OF VENGEANCE Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Johnny Mack Brown Steve Warner
4/22/37 BAR Z BADMEN Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Johnny Mack Brown The Judge
5/4/37 TRUSTED OUTLAW, THE Republic A. W. Hackel Robert N. Bradbury Bob Steele Sheriff Bob Larimer
5/10/37 LAW OF THE RANGER Columbia Larry Darmour Spencer G. Bennet Bob Allen Land Registar
5/18/37 GUN LORDS OF STIRRUP BASIN Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Bob Steele Hub Stockton
5/30/37 RECKLESS RANGER, THE Columbia Larry Darmour Spencer G. Bennet Bob Allen Bascom
7/7/37 DOOMED AT SUNDOWN Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Bob Steele Dad Austin
7/19/37 RED ROPE, THE Republic A. W. Hackel S. Roy Luby Bob Steele John "Pop" Duncan
9/24/37 ARIZONA GUNFIGHTER. THE Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Bob Steele Dan Lorimer
10/27/37 TRAPPED BY G-MEN Columbia Larry Darmour Lew Collins Jack Holt Miner
11/1/37 RIDIN' THE LONE TRAIL Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Bob Steele Mr. Randall
11/23/37 LAWLESS LAND Republic A. W. Hackel Albert Ray Johnny Mack Brown Bill
12/6/37 COLORADO KID Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Bob Steele Judge Smith
1/11/38 PAROLED - TO DIE Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Bob Steele The Judge
4/18/38 FEUD MAKER, THE Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Bob Steele Mr. Harbison
8/15/38 DURANGO VALLEY RAIDERS Republic A. W. Hackel Sam Newfield Bob Steele Commissioner
11/2/38 IN EARLY ARIZONA Columbia Larry Darmour Joseph Levering Bill Elliott Rube Dillon
12/15/39 NICK CARTER - MASTER DETECTIVE M-G-M Lucien Hubbard Jacques Tourneur Walter Pidgeon Paeke


  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Frank Ball: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0050370/

Alice was involved in the Washington DC League of Women Voters, and their website has a notation on her involvement and passing under the heading of 'Member News': http://dcwatch.com/lwvdc/lwv9904.htm



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