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Wally Wales /
Hal Taliaferro


Real name:
Floyd Taliaferro Alderson

(sometimes incorrectly spelled as Alperson in other biographies)

1895 - 1980

Photo right - the "whiskers and grime" look of Hal Taliaferro, circa 1937 - 1938.


(From Old Corral image collection)


Floyd Taliaferro Alderson was a real life westerner. He arrived in Hollywood around 1915, and then did military service in World War I. Because of his good looks and horsemanship ability, he became a cowboy star of lower echelon films during the silent era. A couple of Wales' silents are available on video - GALLOPING ON (1926) and DESERT OF THE LOST (1927). He migrated to talkies but his starring efforts were plagued by bottom-of-the-barrel productions for Poverty Row outfits like Big 4, Imperial, Superior Talking Pictures and others. During this early part of his film career, he used several monikers including Floyd Taliaferro, Walt Williams ... and Wally Wales.

By the mid 1930s, and at around forty years of age, his days as a cowboy movie hero came to an end. He changed his name again, this time to Hal Taliaferro, and became a great supporting player in scores of westerns and serials, mostly at Republic, Universal and Columbia, until his retirement from the screen in the early 1950s. Les Adams notes that Wales' name change to Hal Taliaferro occurred in THE UNKNOWN RANGER (Columbia, 1936), which starred Bob Allen.

In Les Adams' Prolific Performers listing on the Old Corral, you'll find that Wales has about 200 SOUND era film appearances, of which 162 were westerns and 21 were cliffhangers.  His work at Republic Pictures consisted of 51 films during a 15 year period ending around 1950. His second favorite employer was Columbia Pictures where he did 37 films. He worked most frequently with Roy Rogers (20 films), Charles Starrett (15 films) and Ken Maynard (11 films).

The picture below shows Wales/Taliaferro in one of his most remembered roles - as a member of the five Texas Rangers in THE LONE RANGER (Republic, 1938) chapterplay. He portrayed Bob Stuart, the second Ranger to be killed off as the cliffhanger progresses.



Above - a 1927 tradepaper ad for silent oaters starring Buddy Roosevelt, Wally Wales (Hal Taliaferro) and Buffalo Bill, Jr. (Jay Wilsey). These were from Lester F. Scott Jr.'s Action Pictures and released through Pathe.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is a still from the Wales silent WHITE PEBBLES (Lester F. Scott/Action Pictures, 1927). That's Wales third from the left with his shirt unbuttoned. And on the far right with vest and no hat is Harry Todd. At the time that Wales did this film, producer Scott had silent heroes Bill Cody and Buffalo Bill, Jr. ridin' the cinema range. The WHITE PEBBLES director was Richard Thorpe who also helmed many of the Wilsey silents. Thorpe spent most of his later years at MGM directing many Tarzan films, spectacles such as IVANHOE (MGM, 1952) with Robert Taylor, Mario Lanza in THE GREAT CARUSO (MGM, 1951), and Elvis Presley in JAILHOUSE ROCK (MGM, 1957) and FUN IN ACAPULCO (MGM, 1963). Thorpe was the director on the Judy Garland THE WIZARD OF OZ, but he was replaced by George Cukor ... who was replaced by Victor Fleming.



(Image courtesy of Jay Wilsey's granddaughter and
daughter, Tamera Mankini and Frances Eldene Wolski)

Above from left to right are Bill Cody, an unidentified man, Wally Wales, and Jay Wilsey (Buffalo Bill, Jr.) is kneeling. This was probably taken sometime in the mid 1920s during a Pathé Company/Pathé Exchange exhibitor/distributor get-together. The back of this still has a notation of "Jean Brainerd Okla City" which may be the unidentified man. Wilsey's early silents for Lester F. Scott, Jr.'s Action Pictures were distributed by Weiss Brothers - Artclass and beginning in 1926, Pathé Exchange handled the westerns. In addition to Wilsey, Wally Wales was also starring in a series for Scott and Action Pictures. Circa 1927, Bill Cody also did a few silents for Pathe. There's a few more photos of Wilsey, Cody and Wales from this Pathe meeting in the Old Corral section on Buffalo Bill, Jr.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above are the 5 Texas Rangers, one of whom would turn out to be the masked rider of the plains, in THE LONE RANGER (Republic, 1938) serial.  From L-to-R are Lee Powell, George Letz (Montgomery), Wally Wales (Hal Taliaferro), Lane Chandler and Herman Brix (Bruce Bennett).


Most fans and critics feel that Wales/Taliaferro was among the finest of the supporting players in the western and serial genres. He did all kinds of roles - buddy to the hero, henchman, lawman, villain assistant, etc.

However, the roles that I always recall are his portrayals of grimy miners and such with a dirty face, whiskers, sweat-stained hat, and tobacco juice around the lipline. A good example is shown in the picture (at the top of this webpage) which is from his 1937-1938 work with Jack Luden and Bob Allen. He was still using this 'grime' look, slightly modified, in his portrayal of gold prospector 'Nugget' in the chapterplay, THE PHANTOM RIDER (Republic, 1946).

As I work on Old Corral webpages, I frequently pop a video into the VCR and listen to it as I type. Wales has a most distinctive voice, and I can quickly recognize him without even looking at the TV screen.

Hans Wollstein sent a tidbit about Wales: "I have a little story about Wally, told to me by Janus Barfoed, a well-known Danish stills collector who once spent a week with Wally at his ranch. Seems that Howard Hawks was so happy with Hal Taliaferro's performance as 'Old Leather' in RED RIVER that he inquired how such a newcomer had become that good. When Hal told him that he was actually Wally Wales and had starred in westerns in the silent era, Hawks, for some reasons, took this as a kind of betrayal and vowed never to use the actor again. Wales/Taliaferro was at a complete loss as to why Hawks had this sudden change of attitude but he never did work with the director again."

My first edition of Shoot-Em-Ups by Buck Rainey and Les Adams is well worn. Yet I never noticed or paid attention to the Dedication page in the front of the book to Harry Carey, Buck Jones ... and Wales. The Wales dedication reads:

Hal Taliaferro/Wally Wales
... who, though he toiled in the shadows of fame,
was cut from the same bolt of cloth

You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral and then to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). There you will find a record for: Floyd Alderson, born 13 November, 1895, and he passed away in February, 1980, and last residence is listed as Sheridan, Wyoming 82801.

Wales was born in Sheridan, Wyoming. But home was Birney, Rosebud County, Montana (southeastern Montana, about a hundred miles north of Sheridan, Wyoming). In the early 1950s - and after 35+ years in Hollywood - he returned to his Montana roots and lived on the Alderson's Bones Brothers Ranch which had been created from a bunch of family homesteads. He built a cabin and spent much of his later life devoted to his favorite hobby - painting landscapes of the rugged Montana countryside. He suffered a series of strokes and passed away on February 10, 1980 at a nursing home in Sheridan, Wyoming. Genealogy info on the Alderson family mention his family and birth info: his father and mother were Lewis Allen Alderson and Emma Elizabeth Roberts Alderson, respectively, and they were married in Sheridan, Wyoming on December 15, 1892. There were three sons: Wales was born Floyd Taliaferro Alderson on November 13, 1895, and his two brothers were Allen Roberts Alderson (born 1898) and Irving Newman Alderson (born 1902). The Bones Brothers Ranch still exists today ... and the Alderson family continue as owners.

The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s.  With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars.  In most cases, the winners were what you would expect - Autry, Rogers, Holt, Starrett, Hoppy, etc. These polls did not begin until 1936. At that time, Wally Wales' was no longer a B western hero.




(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, Wally Wales and trusty steed 'Silver King' in a production still from CARRYING THE MAIL (William Pizor/Imperial, 1934). 'Silver King' was once owned by silent western star Fred Thomson.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Al Hoxie, unidentified player, Yakima Canutt, Barney Beasley, Wally Wales, Sherry Tansey and Peggy Djarling in a scene from CARRYING THE MAIL (William Pizor/Imperial, 1934), one of the several two to three-reel (20 minutes to a half hour) oaters churned out by producer William Pizor in the mid-1930s. This was one of Al Hoxie's last film appearances. The Pizor/Imperial series also marked the end of Wally Wales' starring career - a year or two later, he changed his name to Hal Taliaferro and became a prolific sidekick and supporting and bit player in scores of A and B grade westerns and serials into the early 1950s.



(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Above is a green duotone lobby card from the Wally Wales starrer THE LONE RIDER (William Pizor/Imperial, 1934). On the left are Fred Parker and Myrla Bratton (billed as Merla Bratton in this film). The "directed by Robert Emmett" is Robert Emmett 'Bob' Tansey. This was the last of the three reel shorts (approximately 27 minutes running time) that Wales did for Pizor/Imperial.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Wales and Merla Bratton are shown in the top left inset in this title lobby card from THE LONE RIDER (William Pizor/Imperial, 1934). The "directed by Robert Emmett" was Robert Emmett 'Bob' Tansey.



In Search of Wally Wales/Hal Taliaferro

The Family Search website has information on Floyd Taliaferro Alderson, AKA Wally Wales and Hal Taliaferro. Note the dual census records for 1940:


Links

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Wally Wales/Hal Taliaferro: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0907404/

There's a collection of Wally Wales' 1914-1957 papers, stills, scripts and artifacts housed at the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming. The following link will take you to the search page: http://uwcatalog.uwyo.edu/
In the Search Type, select Keyword. and in the Search Term box, type in Wally Wales.
Then click on Search, and at the top of the search results page, click on "Papers, 1914-1957".
If that link doesn't work, try: http://uwcatalog.uwyo.edu/record=b2136760~S1
More on Wally Wales history and papers at the American Heritage Center: http://americanheritagecenter.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/from-spurs-to-screen-wyoming-boy-makes-it-big-in-hollywood/

The Alderson genealogy webpage with info on Floyd Taliaferro Alderson (Wally Wales/Hal Taliaferro) is at: http://www.fridley.net/alderson/i0003024.htm#i4886

The Bones Brothers Ranch is located at Birney, Montana (west of Custer National Forest in Rosebud County, Montana). The current owners of the ranch are: Irving Alderson, Jr., Jeanie Alderson, Mary Alderson and Natalie Alderson Moog. The ranch became listed in the National Register of historic locations/homes 2004. There's info and photos on the ranch at:
http://ncptt.nps.gov/blog/cultural-landscape-of-the-upper-tongue-river-valley-in-rosebud-county-montana-2007-12/
http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/threecircle2.html



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