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.

Al Ferguson

Full name: Alfred George Ferguson

Nickname: "Fergie"

1888 - 1971

Above - Al Ferguson circa 1924, and about 35 years old, when he was briefly starring in some silent films. Photo is a crop from the full page ad shown below.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Al Ferguson in 1935 and about 47 years of age.

(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Above - Al Ferguson in 1944 and about 56 years old.
Al Ferguson was born in Ireland, and circa 1913, he migrated to California.

During a 40+ career that ran from about 1915 through the mid 1950s, Ferguson toiled in over 300 silent and sound films.

Among Fergie's earliest movie roles were for the the American Film Company (nicknamed the "Flying A") in Santa Barbara, California. Then came some 1922-1923 features for Premium Pictures Corporation which released their product via Jesse J. Goldburg's Independent Pictures Corporation.

Circa 1924-1925, he was the hero in some action/north woods adventures produced by J. J. Fleming Productions, Inc. These were filmed in Oregon and distributed to the independent market by J. Charles Davis II (who, around the same time, was handling early Ken Maynard adventures such as $50,000 REWARD (1924) and THE GREY VULTURE (1926)).

The initial series of six were completed and released. Titles were: TRAIL OF VENGEANCE, SHACKLES OF FEAR, PHANTOM SHADOWS, SCARLET AND GOLD, A FIGHTING CHANCE and THE FIGHTING PARSON. Tradepaper blurbs indicate that Ferguson directed some/all of these Fleming productions:

  • From the review of SHACKLES OF FEAR in the December 27, 1924 Exhibitors Trade Review: "Al Ferguson, in the dual role of director and leading man, has done excellent work ..."
  • Excerpt from the May 23, 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review article about some planned J. J. Fleming Productions: "... according to announcement made by Al Ferguson, who not only plays the principal role in most of the pictures filmed at this studio, but is also in charge of productions."
  • In the August 15, 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review, the review of A FIGHTING ROMEO notes that Ferguson has the lead and also directs.

A second batch of eight were planned for Al and tradepapers had coming attraction announcements on two titles, LAWLESS LOVE and THE LIGHTNING PASSES. However, I found no confirmation that these were completed.

After his brief fling as a star, Al moved into character and support roles, sometimes as the main heavy, sometimes as a henchman. During those final years of the silent film, he butted heads with various cowboy heroes. Examples: he played opposite Tom Tyler, Bob Steele and Tom Mix at Film Booking Office (FBO); with Ted Wells at Universal; in Jack Perrin oaters for Rayart and Universal; with Ken Maynard at First National and Universal; and a handful of other sagebrush adventures starring Ben Wilson, Yakima Canutt and Cliff Lyons.

He successfully made the transition to talking pictures and Les Adams has him identified in about 200 sound era movies, and that number includes 86 oaters and 44 serials.

Of Ferguson's sound cliffhangers, nearly twenty were for Universal. There were three for Nat Levine at Mascot and about fifteen chapterplays for producers Jack Fier, Larry Darmour and Sam Katzman at Columbia Pictures.

in the 1930s and 1940s, his cowboy film appearances were scattered amongst many white hatted heroes, and you'll spot him in a few - or a handful - of films with John Wayne, Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, Ken Maynard, Charles Starrett, Johnny Mack Brown, Trail Blazers, Range Busters, others. Not many paychecks from Republic Pictures for Ferguson - he was in the first DICK TRACY chapterplay, one Gene Autry oater, and one with Roy Rogers. He did only two Hopalong Cassidys. Al worked often with Bob Steele, appearing in a dozen beginning with Bob's FBO silents and continuing through Steele's Billy the Kids at PRC, Trail Blazers at Monogram, and last starring roles in the mid 1940s at PRC and Cinecolor adventures for Action Pictures/Screen Guild.

A good Ferguson western film role occurs in Tim McCoy's early talkie THE ONE WAY TRAIL (Columbia, 1931). Fergie plays saloon owner "Coldeye Cornell", the brains heavy responsible for the death of McCoy's brother.

Among Ferguson's last movie jobs were bit parts in Columbia's final cliffhangers, BLAZING THE OVERLAND TRAIL (Columbia, 1956) and PERILS OF THE WILDERNESS (Columbia, 1956), both produced by Sam Katzman.

Ill with prostate cancer, Al Ferguson passed away on December 4, 1971 at the Burbank Community Hospital, Burbank, California

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), and the death certificate provide more on Al Ferguson:

  • World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917: Alfred George Ferguson, born April 19, 1888 in Russlare, Wicklow, Ireland, and resides at 1911 DelaVina, Santa Barbara, California. He is married and occupation is "Actor - American Film Company, Santa Barbara". He also notes prior military service of 18 months as a Private - Infantry in England and he has "Declared" his intention of becoming a U.S. citizen:
  • 1920 census: 31 year old Alfred G. Ferguson (born Ireland) is one of many roomers living in a hotel or rooming house in Los Angeles:
    Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet: Alfred G. Ferguson, born Ireland, and occupation "Actor - Motion Pictures" is one of many roomers living at 429 West Second Street, Los Angeles.
  • July 27, 1921 Los Angeles, California marriage license of 32 year old Alfred Ferguson (occupation actor; widowed; born Ireland) to 28 year old Lottie Taber (divorced; born Texas). Ferguson's parents were James Ferguson and Nancy Collier, both born in Ireland:
  • Ancestry had Ferguson's September 21, 1933 Declaration Of Intention to become a U.S. Citizen and February 3, 1936 Petition for Naturalization. A summary of the information from both documents: Alfred George Ferguson lives at 4640 Longpre St., Los Angeles, California. He was born April 19, 1888 in Rosslare or Rooslare, Ireland; occupation is "Actor"; emigrated to the U.S. in 1913 from Canada; wife's name is Lottie (born 1889 in Dallas, Texas) and they married on July 27, 1921 in Los Angeles.
  • 1940 census: 50 year old Alfred G. Ferguson (born Ireland) and 49 year old wife Narcissus (born Texas) are living in Los Angeles:
    1940 census takers worksheet: Al and Narcissus Ferguson are renting at 4640 De Longpre Ave., Los Angeles, and they lived in the Los Angeles area in 1935. He reports his birth location as Ireland, occupation as "Actor - Motion picture studio", and in 1939, he worked 52 weeks and earned $910.00:
  • World War II draft registration: Alfred George Ferguson reports his birth date and location as April 19, 1888 and Ireland. He and his wife Nottie are still living at 4640 De Longpre Ave., Los Angeles and his employer is "Darmour Studio, Van Ness and Santa Monica Blvd.":
  • Death certificate: 83 year old Alfred George Ferguson was born April 19, 1888 in Ireland; occupation was "Actor - Motion Picture acting"; parents were James Ferguson and Nancy Collins, both born Ireland. He passed away on December 4, 1971 from prostate cancer at the Burbank Community Hospital, Burbank, California. Forest Lawn was the funeral director and Ferguson was cremated. Informant on the death certificate was wife Narcissus M. Weston Ferguson, and they lived at 300 North Screenland Drive, Burbank, California.
  • You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral and then to the California Death Index where you will find a record for: Alfred G. Ferguson, born 4/19/1888, and he passed away in the Los Angeles area on 12/4/1971. There is a corresponding record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

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

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the marker for Alfred George Ferguson at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California:
Find A Grave also has Narcissus Marie Ferguson (1892-1982) interred at Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Texas:

There's a dozen+ film titles from 1914 - 1921 for "Alfred Ferguson" and "George Ferguson" at the website for the American Film Company (nicknamed the "Flying A") which is maintained by the University of California at Santa Barbara. They were to check photos and other archives to determine if either or both are our western and serial heavy Al Ferguson, and whether his roles were lead, character or just bit parts. More to follow on this. When you get to this webpage, click on the letter F, and scroll down the listing for Alfred Ferguson and George Ferguson:

Al Ferguson - silent screen hero.

Abve is a full page ad for the initial batch of outdoorsy adventures starring Al Ferguson. This is from the November, 1924 issue of Exhibitors Trade Review (available at the Internet Archive). The J. J. Fleming Productions building shown in the above ad was located in Beaverton, Oregon near Portland.

Below is a still culled from the March 21, 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review (available at the Internet Archive). Mounted police officer Al Ferguson has the drop on Frank Granville in a scene from Ferguson's starrer SCARLET AND GOLD (J. J. Fleming Prod./Davis Distributing, 1925).

Al Ferguson - from heavy and character roles to henchman and bit parts.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a crop from a lobby card from OUTLAWED (FBO, 1929), and from left to right are Tom Mix, Sheriff Al Ferguson and clean shaven deputy Hank Bell. This was one of the five silents that Mix did for Film Booking Office (FBO) in the late 1920s. Looks like Ferguson's gunbelt is the same as the one he's wearing in the photo below from Wayne's THE DESERT TRAIL (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935).

Above are screen captures of Al Ferguson at his meanest - as "Buck Rankin" in the Bob Steele NEAR THE RAINBOW'S END (Tiffany, 1930). He was in his early forties when he appeared in this, which was Steele's first talking picture. In the top screen capture, Ferguson is roughin' up Merrill McCormick. In the lower screen grab, Cliff Lyons is the smilin' guy on the left.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are John Wayne, Al Ferguson and Paul Fix in a still from THE DESERT TRAIL (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935). In this, Ferguson and Fix steal rodeo prize money and also commit a murder, and Wayne and sidekick Eddy Chandler are blamed.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Cornering Bob Steele are veteran baddies Al Ferguson (left) and George Chesebro (right) in a lobby card from DEATH VALLEY RANGERS (Monogram, 1943). Both Ferguson and Chesebro were born in 1888, and in their early fifties when they appeared in this Trail Blazers western. This was the fourth Trail Blazers film ... and the first with Bob Steele (which made the team a trio versus the earlier Maynard and Gibson duo).

(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Hoot Gibson on the left and Chief Thunder Cloud on the right, have apprehended a trio of henchies in OUTLAW TRAIL (Monogram, 1944), an entry in the Trail Blazers series.  In the center from L-to-R are Jim Thorpe, Al Ferguson and Frank Ellis. James Francis 'Jim' Thorpe, (1888-1953) won the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic games, but was later stripped of his medals since he had played pro sports. Ferguson is unbilled/uncredited as a henchman working for rotund Cy Kendall who portrays town boss "Honest John Travers".

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Jerry Fields, Al Ferguson, Dan White, Bud Osborne and Charlie King in a scene from the Ken Maynard HARMONY TRAIL (Mattox, 1944; re-released in 1947 by Astor as WHITE STALLION). In this one, Fields, Ferguson, White and Osborne are gang members working for ol' Charlie King.

Back to prior page