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(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Buck as "Fuzz", the old timer sidekick to Bob Steele in NO MAN'S RANGE (Supreme, 1935). He was about 55 years old when he did this western ... but he sure looks older.



(Image courtesy of Jack Tillmany)

Above - a very young Buck Connors. Assuming the autograph / signature is Buck's, he signed his last name as "Connors".

Buck Connors / Connor / Conners / Conner

Real name: George Washington Conner

Nicknames: "Buck", "Buckshot"

1880 - 1947

Buck Connors / Connor / Conners / Conner played whiskered old timers, parsons, settlers, townsman ... but my recollections of him are several sidekick / helper roles to Bob Steele in the mid 1930s as well as narrating the beginning of each episode of the Tim McCoy serial THE INDIANS ARE COMING (Universal, 1930). As a B western performer, he only worked in about three dozen oaters. What fascinated me was his life outside of Hollywood ... and that his original gravesite was located behind a building in Quartzsite, Arizona.

Wyatt Earp biographer Lee A. Silva mentions that Buck served in both Army and Navy ... was in the Mexican Revolution ... was a Texas Ranger for a couple years ... was a member of the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show and Buffalo Bill Wild West Show ... was a close friend of Buffalo Bill Cody ... was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild ... other accolades. More confusion can be found in Buck's brief biography in the 1914 edition of Who's Who in the Film World - in that, he was born in San Saba, Texas and was secretary to Buffalo Bill for four years.

George Washington Conner was born November 22, 1880 in Streator, Illinois, which is located about 80 miles southwest of Chicago. His parents were William Lipkey Conner (1843 - 1936) and Leah Bowen Conner (1842 - 1936).

He served with the West Virginia Infantry during the Spanish American War of 1898 and pension records indicate his enlistment ran from June 26, 1898 through April 10, 1899. Then came a hitch in the Navy from November 21, 1899 through November 20, 1903 and duty in the Philippine Insurrection. On November 15, 1904 in Wheeling, West Virginia, Buck re-enlisted in the Army, served in the Signal Corps, and some reports have him as records custodian of the Army War College which was created circa 1904. Corporal Conner was discharged November 14, 1907 in Washington, D. C.

Following military duty, Buck spent several years with the "Two Bills Show", which was the combined Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East shows. Biographies on Buck mention his friendship with Buffalo Bill Cody but I found nothing in the trades or newspapers confirming that relationship. Instead, Buck was the secretary and assistant to Major Gordon W. Lillie, the real name of showman "Pawnee Bill":

His movie career spanned nearly thirty years and a hundred films. Most of his appearances were bit / supporting roles, and as such, Buck was generally uncredited / unbilled. He also directed a few silents.

His busiest acting period was in silent films and his main employer was Universal Pictures. Hollywood trade publications from the 1910s - 1920s have mentions of Buck and below is a mix of trade articles and summaries of his silent era days:

In talkies, Buck appears in a mix of credited and uncredited roles in mostly westerns and serials. Examples:

You can also spot him with Charles Starrett (in 7 westerns), Buck Jones (3 westerns and 1 serial), Bob Steele (3 westerns), Johnny Mack Brown (1 western and 2 serials), Randolph Scott (2 westerns), Hoot Gibson (2 westerns), Dick Foran (2 westerns), Wild Bill Elliott (1 western and 1 serial), more. Buck's last movie jobs were in 1941.

As mentioned earlier, Buck married Luella W. Cross in Trenton, New Jersey in 1910 when he was working with the Two Bills Show. That pairing ended in a divorce.

Wife number two was Hazel Violet Powell (1898 - 1985), and they tied the knot in 1922 in Los Angeles. That union produced two sons, George Washington Conner, Jr. (1928 - 1932; born in Los Angeles) and Powell Bowen Conner (1933 - 1999; born in Quartzsite, Arizona).

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Conner family resided in Quartzsite, Arizona and Yuma, Arizona. But they sometimes maintained a home in the Los Angeles area due to Buck's movie work.

In Quartzsite, they provided the land for the Conner Field airstrip and the family also donated several acres to the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and a church was built on those grounds. The Quartzsite airstrip is covered by Janice Stevens in her book Stories of Service, Volume 2: Valley Veterans Remember World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War (Craven Street Books, 2011). In summary, Conner Field was used to train World War II Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). Once training was completed, the women pilots were assigned to the ferry command, and delivered new planes to overseas locations.

Buck was an Episcopal chaplain or minister - or, at least someone with deep religious beliefs. He was the chaplain of the 1930s "Riding Actors Association of Hollywood", an early attempt at unionizing riders, stuntmen, etc. who desired safer working conditions as well as higher wages. He also did chaplain duties with the "Chuck Wagon Trailers" a group of western film heroes, character and support players who assembled a few times a year for a BBQ and to remember the ol' days.

When Buck passed away in 1947, he and Hazel were living in Hollywood, California. He was visiting Yuma, Arizona and passed away on February 4, 1947 from heart problems at the Yuma General Hospital. He and son George Jr. were interred on Conner property located behind a business in Quartzsite, Arizona, and their remains were exhumed in 2008 and moved to the Pioneer section of the Hi Jolly Cemetery.

The story doesn't end with his passing. Buck had collected various items, including letters and paintings from noted painter Charles Russell as well as a shotgun used by Doc Holiday at the O. K. Corral battle. All his memorabilia was stored in an adobe building in Quartzsite. Over the years, the mementoes disappeared and the building was destroyed in a storm.

At about 5' 4" tall and 120 pounds, Buck was small in stature. He loved the military and lived life to the fullest. An interesting man.

  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Buck Connors: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0175413/



Writer Buck Conner / Connor / Connors

Left to right are William S. Hart, Buck Connors and Thomas H. Ince. Connors was writing stories for Hart's movies and was about 37 years old. Photo from the July, 1917 Picture Play magazine, available at the Internet Archive. Excerpt from the April 21, 1917 issue of Moving Picture World: "BUCK CONNORS, who is supposed to know all about Texas Rangers, will supply considerable material for forthcoming William S. Hart pictures on the Triangle Kay-Bee program. Thomas H. Ince has bought outright ten of his best stories, and has secured an option on the future output of this author."

"B. M. Bower" was the pen name of Bertha Muzzy Sinclair (1871 - 1940) and she wrote novels, short stories and screenplays about the old west. Circa 1915, she and Buck connected and the Book Review section in the April 30, 1916 New York Times mentioned their connection: "B. M. Bower, whose 'The Phantom Herd', published a few weeks ago, is the last in a long line of Western novels, is writing a series of Texas Ranger stories in collaboration with Buck Conner."

There's a few of their short stories available at the Internet Archive:

Buck may have penned stories for the Adventure magazine, but we're unable to confirm. However, we do know that he "advertised" his Philippines expertise in the magazine. In the March 15, 1932 edition, there's an "Ask Adventure" section with many names and addresses of people who can be contacted on specific subjects. Buck Connor is listed c/o Conner Field and his expertise is the Philippines.


On the trail of George Washington Conner
Family Search, Fold3 Military records, Ancestry.com, Newspaper Archive, Hollywood trade publications, Arizona Department of Health Services, and the West Virginia Culture website provide more on Buck Conner and family.

Let's begin with military records. Appears he served in the Spanish-American War (which was in 1898) and the Philippine Insurrection, which ran from February, 1899, to July, 1902:

  • Fold3 Military records has a West Virginia Infantry index card for George W. Conner Jr., Company M, 2nd West Virginia Infantry, rank of Private, musician, Spanish War.
  • 1904 Army enlistment ledger - George W. Conner (born Streator, Illinois; occupation "Salesman") enlisted in the Signal Corps on November 15, 1904 in Wheeling, West Virginia. Was discharged November 14, 1907 in Washington, D. C., and rank was Corporal: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QJDR-J8YZ
  • Fold3 Military records had a pension record filed July 24, 1916 for George W. Conner, and three enlistments are noted:
    1. He enlisted June 26, 1898, was discharged April 10, 1899, and was a Musician in Company M, 2nd Regiment, West Virginia Infantry.
    2. Signal Corps USA.
    3. he was a Coxswain, U. S. Navy from 1899 - 1903 and served on the U. S. S. Dixie, Helena, Paragna, Buffalo and Franklin.
  • Ancestry had the February 6, 1947 Application for Headstone or Marker for military veteran George W. Conner and the applicant was Buck's wife Hazel Conner, 1119 North Hoover Street, Hollywood, California. Headstone to be delivered to Quartzsite, Arizona cemetery. Three military enlistments are noted:
    1. June 26, 1898 - April 10, 1899 was Musician, Company M, 2nd West Virginia Infantry.
    2. enlisted November 21, 1899, discharged November 20, 1903, and a handwritten notation says "Probably Navy service".
    3. November 15, 1904 - November 14, 1907 was Corporal, Company G, Signal Corps, U. S. Army.

Newspapers and tradezines reported on the 1913 presentation of a Bronze medal to Buck for his Navy service in the Philippines circa 1900. Unsure what that medal is. Definitely not the Bronze Star which didn't become an official heroism medal until World War II.

  • November 2, 1913 Albuquerque Morning Journal newspaper article headline: "BUCK CONNOR GETS BRONZE MEDAL FROM WAR DEPARTMENT" Article excerpts: "George W. Connor, best known as Buck Connor, for some months one of the leading players with the St. Louis Motion Picture company, starring in many of the Frontier films manufactured by that company, is the proud possessor of a handsome bronze medal. This ... came yesterday, having been sent ... by the war department. ... in recognition of service with the civilian scouts in the Philippines thirteen years ago ... under the late Major Archibald Butt."
  • November 22, 1913 Motion Picture News - excerpts: "Geo. W. ('Buck') Connor ... has just been presented with a bronze medal by the War Department in recognition of service with the civilian scouts thirteen years ago in the Philippines under the late Major Archibald Butt."


Census, birth records, marriages, etc.:

  • October 21, 1863 West Virginia marriage license of Buck's parents, 20 year old William L. Conner (born Marshall, West Virginia; occupation "Farmer") and 21 year old Leah Bowen (born Marshall, West Virginia): http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=853809&ImageNumber=469
  • 1880 census summary and census takers worksheet - and Buck hasn't been born yet. Living in Streator, La Salle County, Illinois are 36 year old William Conner (born West Virginia; occupation "Engineer"), his 38 year old wife Leah (born Virginia), and six children (daughters Nancy and Jessie and sons Charles, Pierce, William and Richard): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXVW-BQM
  • 1890 census is unavailable - it was lost in a 1921 fire (and water damage) at the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.
  • 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - 20 year old George W. Conner (born Illinois; occupation "U. S. Soldier") is in Moundsville, Marshall County, West Virginia. In addition to George, members of the household include his parents, 57 year old William Conner (born West Virginia; occupation "Dairyman") and 60 year old wife Annie (born West Virginia), along with two other children, 25 year old Richard (born Illinois) and 16 year old Willard (born West Virginia). Also living with them are 63 year old James McDonald (born Kentucky) and two servants: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M9CB-FPY
  • April 23, 1910 issue of Variety reported on Buck's first marriage: "George W. Connors, secretary to the Two Bills' Show and familiarly known as 'Buckshot' to his associates, was married in Trenton this week to Luella W. Cross, daughter of W. E. Cross, superintendent of the Cross Machine Tool Co. in that town."
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 37 year old George Connor is living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was born in Illinois; was single; and his occupation was "Author - ???": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4VL-3VH
  • March 18, 1922 California Marriage License of 38 year old George Connor (born Illinois) and 23 year old Hazel V. Powell (born Colorado) in Los Angeles. Buck was divorced and this was his 2nd marriage; parents were W. L. Connor and Leah Bowen; and his occupation was "Magazine writer". Was the first marriage for Hazel and her parents were Jesse Powell and Ella Higgins: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K889-CLG
  • Birth certificate and California Birth Index for Buck's son George Washington Conner Jr. - he was born June 30, 1928 in Los Angeles to 45 year old George Washinton Conner (born Streator, Illinois; occupation "Movie Actor") and 29 year old wife Hazel Violet Powell (born Cripple Creek, Colorado), and they lived at 138 E. 77 Street, Los Angeles:
    https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGL7-6J4Y
    https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VGHL-13Z
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Los Angeles, California are 48 year old George W. Conner (born Illinois), his 31 year old wife Hazel B. (born Colorado), and 1 year old son George U. (born California). They are living with Hazel's mother, 56 year old Ella Garrison (born Ohio). George is a military veteran and served in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCZY-61H
  • Death certificate for 3+ year old son George Washington Conner, Jr. is available online at the Arizona Department of Health Services: http://genealogy.az.gov/
    He passed away January 8, 1932 in Quartzsite, Arizona from pneumonia and contributing cause was Froelich's Syndrome.
  • 1933 birth certificate for son Powell Bowen Conner is available online at the Arizona Department of Health Services. The image quality of the birth certificate is poor, and Powell's middle name looks like "Soren". However, various articles confirm his middle name was Bowen, which was the maiden name of Buck's mother: http://genealogy.az.gov/
    Powell Bowen Conner was born January 23, 1933 "en route to hospital" in Yuma County, Arizona to George Washington Conner (born Illinois; occupation "Character actor - cinema") and Hazel Powell Conner (born Colorado; occupation "housekeeper").
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 59 year old Geo W. Bonner [sic] (born West Virginia; occupation "Actor - Motion Pictures"), his 39 year old wife Hazel V. (born Colorado), and 7 year old son Powell B. (born Arizona) own their home in Yuma, Arizona. They lived in that same house in 1935: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VY4H-PM5
  • World War II draft registration - 61 year old George Washington Conner was born November 22, 1880 in Streator, La Salle County, Illinois. His contact is wife Hazel V. Conner, and they live in Quartzsite, Arizona. Contact info also mentions a mailing address of Conner Field. Buck is 5' 4" tall and 120 pounds: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKC4-9D17
  • The "Quartzsite Briefs" column in the June 12, 1943 Yuma Daily Sun and Arizona Sentinel newspaper mentioned that: "Mr. and Mrs. G. W. 'Buck' Conners have placed their son, Powell Bowen, in Paige Military academy. Powell is 10 years of age, and has attended the Quartzsite school." (Paige Military academy was in Los Angeles.)
  • Death certificate on Buck is available online at the Arizona Department of Health Services: http://genealogy.az.gov/
    66 year old George Washington Conner passed away from heart problems on February 4, 1947 at the Yuma, Arizona General Hospital. Occupation was "Actor - Moving Pictures" and he was born November 22, 1880 in Streeter [sic], Illinois. Death certificate informant was wife Hazel Conner, and they lived at 1119 N. Hoover Street, Hollywood, California. Burial at Quartzsite, Arizona.
  • February 4, 1947 Yuma Daily Sun and Arizona Sentinel newspaper reported on Buck's passing. Headline: "Buck Conner, 66, Stricken Here, Dies in Hospital" Article excerpts: "Sheriff J. A. Beard reported that he and his deputies, cruising about town, noticed the man slumped over at the curb at Second street and Madison avenue." ; "... did not regain consciousness before he died." ; "Mr. Conner was well known in Yuma county, having been employed at the Yuma Army air field and at Conner field near Quartzsite during the war." ; "Sheriff Beard ... is attempting to locate Conner's family, thought to be living in Hollywood."

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has photos of the grave markers for Buck and son George Jr. and both are interred at Hi Jolly Cemetery, Quartzsite, Arizona:
George W. 'Buck' Conner, Sr. and his marker has the following: Musician, 2nd West Virginia Infantry, Spanish American War: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36748446/george-w-conner
Son George W. Conner II: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36748528/george-w-conner

There is a photo of the marker for Buck along with an obituary on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/4382721825/

Buck's father William and sister Jessie (and her husband) also wound up living in Quartzsite, Arizona:

  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Quartzsite, Arizona are 86 year old William L. Conner (born West Virginia; widowed), his 53 year old married daughter Jessie L. Keiser and her 56 year old husband William G. Keiser (born Pennsylvania; occupation "Hotel - Road House"): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XH1C-V4L
  • Buck's father, 93 year old William Lipkey Conner passed away on December 20, 1936 in Quartzsite, Arizona, and the death certificate is available at the Arizona Department of Health Services: http://genealogy.az.gov/
  • Marshall County, West Virginia obituaries of Civil War Soldiers - Buck's father William L. Conner was in the Union Army. Scroll about a quarter way down on this webpage for his obituary: http://www.wvgenweb.org/marshall/cwobits.htm
Confusion, misinformation ... more research needed.
1. Some biographies have Buck working on the 101 Ranch Show. That didn't happen as there's another George Connor associated with the 101 show. The March 19, 1910 Billboard had an employee roster of various circuses and shows:

Geo. W. Conners (that's Buck) is listed as Secretary and Superintendent of Ring Stock under Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East, Combined show.

Under Miller Bros.' and Edward Arlington's 101 Ranch Real Wild West, Geo. V. Connor is Manager, Side Show.

2. Was Buck involved in the 1933 formation of the Screen Actors Guild? I checked the SAG/AFTRA website as well as Film Daily Yearbooks from 1933 - 1940 for his name as an officer, director or advisory board member. Nothing listed for Buck Connor, George W. Conner, et al.

Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists website: http://www.sagaftra.org/history/sag

3. Did Buck fight / participate in the Mexican Revolution? Best guess is that the Mexican Revolution reference came from Buck and his St. Louis Motion Picture Company film crew visiting and filming General Ortega and his revolutionists near Guadaloupe, Chihuahua, Mexico in 1913.

4. Biographies on Buck mention that he served as a Texas Ranger for several years (which to me, implies at least two or more years). Based on the dates and timelines from trades and newspapers, there isn't a block of two or more years when he could have squeezed in service with the Texas Rangers. My best guess is that he developed a relationship with one or more Rangers and they provided background for his writings.

There are several Buck Conner biographies online:

Wyatt Earp biographer Lee A. Silva's profile on Buck from 1985: http://www.klohoker.com/Qsite-History/Buck-conner.htm

In 2012, Hi Jolly Cemetery Records / Historian Dinice Ross authored a two-part bio on Buck: http://www.epageflip.net/i/51737-january-4-2012/25
http://www.epageflip.net/i/54098-february-1-2012/31


Buck doin' 1930s B westerns

(Image courtesy of Carol Murray and her "Jack Hendricks Photo Album")

Still from HEADIN' FOR TROUBLE (Big 4, 1931) and star Bob Custer is on the left with the drop on everyone. Jack Hendricks is on the far right behind whiskered old-timer Buck Connors. In the background from left to right are unidentified player, Barney Beasley, and another unidentified player (with beard). Sitting at the table are Duke Lee (left) and John Ince (right).



(Pressbook cover courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the cover of the pressbook for THE LAW RIDES (Supreme, 1936), one of many Steele films for producer A. W. Hackel which was directed by Bob's father, Robert North Bradbury. The gal is Harley Wood (Harlene Wood / Jill Martin), and the old-timer with the white beard is Buck Connors (as "Whitey").



(From Old Corral collection)

Perpetual baddie Charlie King has the grips on whiskered codger Buck Connors while Barney Furey has a sixgun on Bob Steele in a lobby card from THE LAW RIDES (Supreme, 1936).



(From Old Corral collection)

Note the different spelling on Buck's last name in the above and pressbook cover below from NO MAN'S RANGE (Supreme, 1935).



(Pressbook cover courtesy of Les Adams)




(Courtesy of Les Adams)



Above is the title lobby card from Bob Steele's NO MAN'S RANGE (Supreme, 1935), and a crop / blowup showing Buck and Steele.


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