|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.|
Sometimes billed as:
Warner P. Richmond
Werner Paul Otto Raetzman
1886 - 1948
(Image courtesy of Les Adams)
Closeup of Warner Richmond from a still shown below. This is how ye Old Corral webmaster remembers him - wearing that trademarked, flat-brimmed cowboy hat.
Born in Wisconsin in 1886, Werner Paul Raetzman became stage and movie performer Warner P. Richmond. Family trees indicate his full name was Werner Paul Otto Raetzman.
The Early Years - stage plays, New York/New Jersey films, Canadian films ... and on to Hollywood.
During the early 1900s, he learned his craft and alternated between theater/stage work and film jobs on the East Coast. By the 1920s, he was playing leads, second leads and heavies in films done on the East Coast as well as Hollywood. Newspapers, theater/film trade publications, census, marriage, and draft registration info provide a timeline on Richmond's early years and career:
- In the 1910 census, Warner has two entries, one in Chicago and the other in Wisconsin. In Chicago, his occupation is "Actor-Stock Company" and he's living with brother Ewald and family. He's with his parents in Wisconsin and his occupation is musical instrument salesman.
- Henry Kolker and Ruth Chatterton were the stars and Richmond had a major support role in the play "The Great Name". The April 9, 1911 Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Sunday Republican had an article on Kolker, Chatterton and Richmond doing the play in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The May 6, 1911 Indianapolis (Indiana) Star newspaper had a lengthy article on the play at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana.
- December 31, 1912 Galveston (Texas) Daily News: Charlotte Walker and George Bancroft were the leads in "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" at the Grand Theater in Galveston, Texas. And Richmond had a major supporting role.
- July 26, 1913 Oakland (California) Tribune mentioned the play "As A Man Thinks" which starred John Mason with Richmond in a major support role.
- November 1, 1913 issue of the New York Clipper tradepaper had a lengthy article about the October 27 opening night of "Indian Summer" at the Criterion Theater in New York City. John Mason was the star and Warner P. Richmond was in the cast.
- 1916 - there were various newspaper blurbs on the film THE GREAT DIVIDE (Lubin, 1915) which starred House Peters (Senior) and featured Richmond in the cast.
- May 16, 1917 issue of the New York Clipper tradepaper: "EYES OF YOUTH PRESENTED. Stamford, Conn., May 14 - "The Eyes of Youth," a comedy by Charles Gueron, received its first presentation on any stage Saturday night at the Stamford Theater. In the cast are ... Warner Richmond."
- In September, 1918, Richmond was living in New York and registered for the World War I draft. At that time, his occupation/employer was "Actor, Maurice Tourneur, Solax Studio, Fort Lee, New Jersey". Richmond would appear in a trio of films for Tourneur: SPORTING LIFE (1918), WOMAN (1918), and MY LADY'S GARTER (1920).
- Warner P. Richmond and Felice S. Rose were married on October 31, 1918 in Manhattan, New York.
- April 23, 1919 issue of the New York Clipper tradepaper: "RICHMOND JOINS ALBANY STOCK. Albany, N.Y., April 21 - Warner P. Richmond has opened here in "Lilac Time" with the Malcolm Fassett Players as second lead."
- June 25, 1919 edition of the New York Clipper: "Washington, D.C., June 20 - With the closing to-morrow night of "Polly With A Past," this week's offering of the Marshall Stock Company at the Garrick Theatre, three members of the company will depart, namely, ... Warner Richmond. Richmond's original engagement was for three weeks only ..."
- The Richmonds were living in Baltimore, Maryland in 1919 when son Warner P. Jr. was born.
- Warner, wife Felice and five year old son Warner P. were still residing on the East Coast as of the 1925 New York State census. They were living in Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York.
His silent era career consisted of films for most all of the East and West Coast production companies including Triangle, Selig, Lubin, Vitagraph, MGM, Fox, Paramount, First National, more. Richmond's peak period - meaning his most prestigious film roles - occurred in the early to mid 1920s when he was 35-40 years of age. A few examples are highlighted below:
Above are screen captures from the Henry King production of TOL'ABLE DAVID (Inspiration Pictures/First National, 1921). The star was Richard Barthelmess, and Richmond portrayed one of his brothers. My understanding that the exteriors on this were shot in Virginia. TOL'ABLE DAVID is considered a significant film and was selected in 2007 for inclusion in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. It is available for download/streaming at the Internet Archive (link at the bottom of this page).
Above is a full page ad from the May 27, 1922 issue of Exhibitors Trade Review magazine (available at the Internet Archive) for the James Oliver Curwood northwoods adventure, JAN OF THE BIG SNOWS (American Releasing Co., 1922). The stars were Richmond (on the left) and Louise Prussing (in the round photo inset).
Above is a photo of Warner Richmond that was cropped from a two-page ad spread for THE MAN FROM GLENGARRY (Ernest Shipman, 1923) in the April 23, 1923 Exhibitors Trade Review magazine (available at the Internet Archive). Richmond was the star in this Ernest Shipman film which was filmed in Canada. The director was Henry MacRae whose sound era career would include the producer function on many Universal serials.
(Image courtesy of Jack Tillmany) |Left - Warner Richmond, circa 1926 and about forty years of age.|
This still is probably from his role as star Charles Ray's brother in THE FIRE BRIGADE (MGM, 1926).
Talking Pictures ... and Richmond's transition to villain roles.
Circa 1930, Richmond was about 45 years old and major film roles were no longer offered. He transitioned to mostly B grade films, and seemed to find a niche as a villain in programmer westerns and cliffhangers. He appeared in oaters with Johnny Mack Brown, George O'Brien, Ken Maynard, James Newill (Renfrew series), Tex Ritter, Dorothy Page, Hoot Gibson, John Wayne, Gene Autry, Jack Randall, Tom Keene and Bob Steele.
His career was cut short at about 54 years of age, due to a fall from his horse while filming a 1940 Tex Ritter adventure for Monogram.
Les Adams has him identified in about 85 sound films, and that number includes about three dozen westerns and a half dozen serials.
Sometimes he portrayed the boss baddie, sometimes the "dog henchie" (second in command), and sometimes a gang member. A few good Richmond roles come to mind:
- he's "Sharkey", the main heavy out to get Clyde Beatty in THE LOST JUNGLE (Mascot, 1934) cliffhanger.
- he's nasty gambling boss "Ace"in the John Wayne THE NEW FRONTIER (Republic, 1935).
- he's "Buck LaCrosse", a henchman working for Niles Welch, in the Gene Autry THE SINGING VAGABOND (Republic, 1935).
- he's the killer of Bob Steele's parents in SMOKEY SMITH (Supreme, 1935).
- he's henchie "Cherokee" in Tex Ritter's first starring western, SONG OF THE GRINGO (Grand National, 1936).
- he's crooked town boss "Mississippi Blackie Wilson" in Tom Keene's WHERE TRAILS DIVIDE (Monogram, 1937).
- he's no-good casino owner "Link Carson" in the Johnny Mack Brown TRAIL OF VENGEANCE (Supreme, 1937).
- he's gang leader "Jim Hatfield", the murderer of Bob Steele's father, in DOOMED AT SUNDOWN (A. W. Hackel/Republic, 1937).
- he's a henchman working for Stanley Andrews in Gene Autry's PRAIRIE MOON (Republic, 1938).
It wasn't unusual for once-stars of Hollywood to pick up a payday or two by working in 1930s exploitation films ... and Richmond was among that group. In the dreadful CHILD BRIDE (1938), he's the crazed, conniving, evil guy out to marry a really young gal (played by Shirley Mills).
|(From Old Corral image collection)
In this duotone lobby card from SMOKEY SMITH (Hackel/Supreme, 1935), Bob Steele is on the roof, ready to spring into action, and below is an unbearded George Hayes. In front of Hayes and wearing the flat brimmed hat is Warner Richmond and to the right is Tex Phelps. This oater showed Richmond at his nastiest - to get his hands on a ring, he shoots off the finger of Steele's father (kindly ol' Horace Carpenter). And Richmond also throws lye in George Hayes' face.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from left to right are an unidentified bartender (possibly Charles Kemper), Warner Richmond, Steve Clark, James Mason, Dave Sharpe, Archie Ricks and Bud Osborne in a scene from the Tom Keene oater, WHERE TRAILS DIVIDE (Monogram, 1937). This is a good one with lawyer Keene finding his brother - portrayed by the youthful Dave Sharpe - working in a gang run by Warner Richmond.
In Best Of The Badmen (Empire Publishing, 2005), authors Boyd Magers, Bob Nareau and Bobby Copeland had more on the injury that ended his career. Richmond suffered a head injury when he fell off his horse during the filming of the Tex Ritter RAINBOW OVER THE RANGE (Monogram, 1940); he was hospitalized for eight months and had facial paralysis for several years. After recovering from all his medical problems, Richmond made his final film appearances in three westerns in the mid 1940s: the Trail Blazers' OUTLAW TRAIL (Monogram, 1944) and singin' cowboy Eddie Dean's COLORADO SERENADE (PRC, 1946) and WILD WEST (PRC, 1946). Producer, director, and jack-of-all trades Robert Emmett "Bob" Tansey was involved in the production of all three. Soon after, Richmond retired to the Motion Picture Home and he passed away on June 19, 1948 due to heart/coronary problems.
Years ago - before I started the Old Corral - I recall watching several of Eddie Dean's Cinecolor oaters, including COLORADO SERENADE (PRC, 1946). Took a while for me to recognize that Warner Richmond was portraying baddie "Dad Dillon". He was about 60 years old when that western was filmed. And he was thin, gaunt, without a moustache, grey haired ... and very old and warn. I re-looked at COLORADO SERENADE as I was preparing this writeup. There was an old Warner Richmond in the closing gun battle ... and he still had that characteristic facial grimace where he tightened his upper lip and flashed that remarkably even row of pearly teeth.
Warner's enhanced biography
Hollywood biographies were often enhanced ... and the above on Warner Richmond is a prime example. These profiles were included in various trade publications such as the Motion Picture Almanac and the Motion Picture News Bluebook. The above is the beginning of his bio from 1931 and includes many "enhancements". He's become a lot younger via an 1895 birth year; his parents, William and Emilie Raetzman have been re-named to William and Emilie Richmond; born in Culpeper County, Virginia (and Culpepper is misspelled); and Warner has added lots of college time at VMI (Virginia Military Institute) and the University of Virginia. He was using this basic biography about a dozen years prior as there was a similar profile in the 1920 Motion Picture Studio Directory.
On the trail of Warner Richmond.
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), the California Death Records database, and the Newspaper Archive (subscription) have information on Richmond. However, the trail does include several last name variations I've highlighted in red - there's Raetzmann, Raetzman, Raelzmann, Ratzman.
- 1880 census: 33 year old William Raetzmann (born Germany), 24 year old wife Emilie (born Wisconsin), 3 year old son Amandus, 1 year old daughter Meta, and 5 year old son Ewald are living in Reedsburg, Sauk County, Wisconsin: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MNHN-KH4
- 1890 census is unavailable - it was lost in a 1921 fire (and water damage) at the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.
- 1900 census: 45 year old William Ratzman (born Germany), 45 year old wife Amelia (born Wisconsin). 16 year old daughter Pauline (born Wisconsin), 15 year old son Werner (born Wisconsin), 12 year old son Alferd [sic] (born Wisconsin), and 7 year old son Paul (born Wisconsin) are living in Reedsburg, Sauk County, Wisconsin: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MM28-GN7
1900 census takers worksheet: Werner is "at school" and father William's occupation is "Justice of the Peace".
- Ancestry had the 1905 Wisconsin census: 54 year old William Raetzman (born Germany; occupation "Justice of the Peace"), 49 year old wife Amelia (born Wisconsin), 19 year old son Werner L. (born Wisconsin; occupation "Store Clerk"), 21 year old daughter Paulina (born Wisconsin), 16 year old son Alfred (born Wisconsin), and 13 year old son Paul J. (born Wisconsin) are living in Reedsburg, Sauk County, Wisconsin.
- Werner is counted twice in the 1910 census, with his parents in Wisconsin and with brother Ewald in Chicago:
1910 census in Wisconsin: living in Reedsburg Ward 1, Sauk County, Wisconsin are 62 year old William Raelzmann (born Germany), 54 year old wife Amelia (born Wisconsin), 24 year old son Werner (born Wisconsin), and 17 year old son Paul (born Wisconsin): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MPV3-K8T
Ancestry had that 1910 census takers worksheet: father William's occupation is "Printer - Office" and Werner's occupation is "Traveling sales - musical instruments".
1910 census in Chicago: living in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois are 35 year old Ewald F. Raetzman (born Wisconsin), 33 year old wife Harriet E. (born Canada), their three sons and 24 year old brother Werner P. Raetzman (born Wisconsin). Ewald is in the 1880 census above: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MKZF-46J
Ancestry had this 1910 census takers worksheet: Werner's occupation is "Actor-Stock Co." and brother Ewald is a "locomotive engineer".
- World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 in New York City: 32 year old Warner Paul Richmond was born January 11, 1886 and is living at 129 West 46th Street, New York City. Occupation is "Actor, Maurice Tourneur, Solax Studio, Fort Lee, New Jersey". Contact is his mother, Mrs. Emily Raetzman, 1031 Oakdale Avenue, Chicago, Illinois: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-26581-8565-37?cc=1968530
- Ancestry had the New York State marriage index (not the marriage license) for the October 31, 1918 marriage of Warner P. Richmond to Felice S. Rose in Manhattan, New York.
- October 3, 1919 issue of the Variety tradepaper carried a birth announcement for Warner P. Richmond, Jr.: "Mr. and Mrs. Warner Paul Richmond, at their home in Baltimore, last week, a son. Mrs. Richmond was formerly Felice Rose (Rose-Standish Players)."
- 1925 New York census: Ancestry had the New York census takers worksheet - 33 year old Warner P. Richmond, 24 year old wife Felice and 5 year old son Warner P. are living in Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York. Warner's occupation is "Actor".
- 1930 census: 43 year old Warner P. Richmond (born Virginia), 28 year old wife Felice S. (born Maryland) and 10 year old son Warner P. (born Maryland) are living in Los Angeles, California: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XC84-LWG
Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet: can't read the street name, but the Richmonds own their home. Warner's occupation is "Actor - Motion Pictures" and he reports "No" to the question on being a military veteran.
- 1940 census: 43 year old Warner P. Richmond (born Virginia), 39 year old wife Felice S. (born New York), and 21 year old son Warner P. (born Maryland) are living in Los Angeles, California: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9HK-LLP
1940 census takers worksheet: the Richmonds are renting at 12536 Burbank, Los Angeles. Richmond's occupation is "Free Lance artist - Motion Pictures" and in 1939, he worked 30 weeks but no money amount is listed. His son's occupation is "Extra Actor - Motion Picture Industry", and in 1939, he worked 5 weeks and earned $230.00: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27797-1219-12?cc=2000219
- World War II draft registration: 56 year old Warner Paul Richmond was born January 11, 1886 in Culpepper County, Virginia. His home address is 12536 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, Calfornia. His occupation is "unemployed - under Dr. care": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-16371-43974-41?cc=1861144
- There was a funeral notice for Richmond in the June 22, 1948 edition of the Los Angeles Times. Excerpt: "... inurnment in Chapel of the Pines. Born in Racine, Wis., he died Saturday at the Motion Picture Country Home, where he lived. He leaves his widow, Mrs. Feline [sic] S. Richmond, and a son, Warner Jr."
The June 22, 1948 edition of the Motion Picture Daily mentioned Richmond's passing. Excerpt: "... died Saturday following an illness of two years, at the Motion Picture Country Home."
- Death certificate: 62 year old Warner Richmond passed away on June 19, 1948 at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital. He had lived there for about two years. He suffered from heart problems and the immediate cause of death was coronary thrombosis-acute. He was cremated, Pierce Bros. Hollywood was the funeral director and interment was at Chapel of the Pines. Death certificate informant was son Warner Richmond, 287 Indiana Avenue, San Mateo, California. Other info on the death certificate mirrors his Hollywood biography: born in Racine, Wisconsin on January 11, 1886; mother was Emily Light (born New York City); father was Warner Paul Richmond (born Culpepper, Virginia).
- You may want to check the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral and then the California Death Records database which matches the death certificate: Warner Richmond, born 1/11/1886 in Wisconsin, Mother's maiden name of Light, and he passed away on 6/19/1948. You will also find a record for Richmond's wife, Felice Striker Rose Richmond: Felice S. Richmond, born 1/25/1901 in New York, Mother's maiden name of Adell, and she passed away in the Los Angeles area on 10/13/1986.
For those of you with an Ancestry.com subscription, there are several Family Trees related to Warner Richmond and the Raetzman family. Included are photos and other info. They have Warner's real name as Werner Paul Otto Raetzman. Look for the Ollila Family Tree and Clark Family Tree.
Warner's younger brother Al Richmond (Alfred Louis Raetzman) was also in Hollywood ... and he starrred in a few silent westerns.
Alfred Louis Raetzman was a couple years younger than brother Warner. Born in 1888 in Wisconsin, he wound up in Hollywood around 1919, and over the next ten years or so, he did stunt work and doubling. And as "Al Richmond", he starred in a few low budget silent westerns. Circa 1934, Al and wife Ruth moved to Billings, Montana where he operated Al's Saddle Horse Service. He passed away in 1966.
There's more on Al in a later webpage, including a photo of him with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. during the filming of ROBIN HOOD (Douglas Fairbanks Pictures/United Artists, 1922).
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Warner Richmond and his wife Felice:
Warner Richmond: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0725173/
Felice Richmond: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0725098/
Al Richmond (1888-1966): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0725069/
The Internet Broadway Database lists one credit for Warner P. Richmond - the 1913 play "Indian Summer": http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=57758
Old Corral contributors Jim Sorensen and Dale Crawford mentioned that Richmond is interred at Chapel Of The Pines Crematory, Los Angeles, California but in vaultage which can't be viewed. Info on Richmond at Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=33952214
Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website has a profile on Warner Richmond: http://www.westernclippings.com/heavies/warnerrichmond_charactersheavies.shtml
You can download/stream TOL'ABLE DAVID (1921) as well as CHILD BRIDE (1938; aka CHILD BRIDE OF THE OZARKS from the Internet Archive:
CHILD BRIDE Trailer: https://archive.org/details/child_bride
CHILD BRIDE: https://archive.org/details/ChildBride
TOL'ABLE DAVID: https://archive.org/details/TolableDavid
In 2007, TOL'ABLE DAVID was selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/film/registry_titles.php