Back to prior page            Go to next page

In my opinion, Wilsey's best work was not as the star or hero but as a featured/supporting player and stunt man ... and he pops up in a number of films during the 1930s through the early 1940s. Some examples:

He was in a quartet of the John Wayne/Lone Star horse operas - 'NEATH ARIZONA SKIES (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), THE LAWLESS FRONTIER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), TEXAS TERROR (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935) and RAINBOW VALLEY (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935). One of his best roles was the buckskin clad wagon train leader/scout in the excellent Ken Maynard starrer WHEELS OF DESTINY (Universal, 1934) (but his name is incorrectly spelled Jay Wilsie in the credits). He had a minor role in POWDERSMOKE RANGE (RKO, 1935) which starred Harry Carey, Hoot Gibson, Bob Steele and Tom Tyler. Wilsey wore a coonskin hat and buckskins in an uncredited role as Daniel Boone in the Chapter 1 opening of Tom Mix's THE MIRACLE RIDER (Mascot, 1935). And he was a Muranian guard in the Gene Autry cliffhanger THE PHANTOM EMPIRE (Mascot, 1935).

His later support roles and stunt/doubling occurred in the Bob Allen Ranger films for Columbia in 1936 - 1937, as well as the PRC Lone Rider series and Charles Starrett Columbias in the early 1940s. He did stunt and doubling work beyond those dates. Les Adams adds some info on Wilsey doubling Charles Starrett: "In LAWLESS PLAINSMEN (Columbia, 1942), Wilsey's doubling for Starrett was so obvious that I didn't even have to hit the pause button to catch it, especially in two fights against Ray Bennett. Wilsey also had a scene and a line or so as a Starrett cowhand named Slim, rather than as a henchman."

In the filmography later in this section, there's more Wilsey screen appearances listed with Maynard, Buck Jones, Johnny Mack Brown, and others.

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Above - John Wayne restrains Wilsey in this lobby card from 'NEATH THE ARIZONA SKIES (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934). Wilsey was a big man, around 6 feet, 3 or 4 inches tall. Note his height next to Wayne.

Wilsey had become friendly with John Wayne and his last screen appearance occurs in Wayne's BIG JIM McLAIN (Warners, 1952). It was filmed in Hawaii and Jay and Genée had sailed there on the "Ruana". At around 1 hour, 20 minutes into the film, there's a meeting of a group of communist subversives who are bossed by Alan Napier. Among the group is an unbilled Jay Wilsey as "Mr. Whalen" or "Mr. Weyland", and he's identified as a local Labor Relations Counselor. Wilsey's total dialog is a quick "Thank you!" in response to Napier's introduction. This film was produced by Wayne and Bob Fellows, and they collaborated on several including HONDO, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, and ISLAND IN THE SKY.

Overall, Jay Wilsey's impact on the B western was a minor one. Today, he is one of the forgotten cowboys of the silver screen. However, the films in which he starred are a valuable reference to those who are interested in early talkies, and to the shortcomings inherent in the independently produced programmer western.

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. Wilsey never achieved a Top Ten ranking in these polls.

On Les Adams' Prolific Performers page on the Old Corral, Wilsey's total sound era screen appearances is relatively small, only about 60 films. However, there's probably some film work from the mid 1930s through the early 1940s that we're unaware in which Wilsey did bit/support roles and/or stunt/doubling. Later in life as he wound down his film work, Wilsey built his schooner "Ruana" and he and wife Genée Boutell spent considerable time on sailing adventures.

Wilsey passed away on October 25, 1961 at the Los Angeles County General Hospital from lung cancer. He was cremated and there is conflicting information on whether his cremains were scattered or he is interred at Mountain View Cemetery, Altadena, California. We did contact Mountain View Cemetery and an excerpt from their e-mail reply follows:

"Yes, he is interred at Mountain View. His cremated remains are in a permanent vault in a non-visitation area of the cemetery. There is no memorial. Thanks for the additional info on his name. We had him only as Jay Wilsey. We have now included the aka Wilbert Jay Wilsey. We will attach the link to your Website in his digital record for any searching in the future."

In their book Westerns Women (McFarland, 1999), Boyd Magers and Michael Fitzgerald have a lengthy writeup and interview with Genée Boutell. She was born Genevive Nellie Clark on October 5, 1913 in Los Angeles, and her stepfather was named Boutell. She and Wilsey married in 1933 and they were together through his death from lung cancer in 1961. She later married Robert Anthony and they resided in Seal Beach, California. As to her current status, a search of the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) indicates that Genee B. Anthony passed away on June 23, 2006 in the Washougal, Washington area.

Census, Draft Registration and Genealogy Links

Rick Albright checked the census information and World War I draft registration:

The Family Search website (free), California Death Records database, and the death certificate provide more on Jay Wilsey and family:

Wilsey Links

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has info on Wilsey's interment at Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum, Altadena, California:

There's writeups on both Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon and Robert J. Horner on the Old Corral. Go to the Old Corral homepage and scroll down the left side menu until your get to section 3. Hollywood Families and Individuals.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Jay Wilsey/Buffalo Bill, Jr., as well as Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon, Genée Boutell, Richard Thorpe, Lester F. Scott, Jr. and Robert J. Horner:

          Jay Wilsey:
          Genée Boutell:
          Producer/Director Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon:
          Silent western film producer Lester F. Scott, Jr.:
          Director Richard Thorpe:
          Producer/Director/Writer Robert J. Horner:

(Images courtesy of Ed Phillips)

(Image courtesy of Jay Wilsey's granddaughter and daughter, Tamera Mankini and Frances Eldene Wolski)
Above and left is Wilsey during his sound era starring roles.

Note the two different horses.

For those into range wear, Wilsey's sound era costume generally consisted of a dark shirt, buttoned at the collar, and a light colored neckerchief. He used a traditional single gun rig, with holster on the right side. And he often wore chaps.

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

Above are Wilsey and Genée Boutell during their filmwork together for Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon. This is a crop/blowup from a still (and both are on horses) which is included on a later webpage.

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

Above and below are Wilsey Christmas cards and both are printed on heavy stock.

The above card is from Christmas, 1932 and measures about 6 1/2 inches wide x 9 inches long. This was sent by Wilsey to daughter Eldene in Ft. Collins, Colorado in early December, 1932. This must have been important to Eldene as she saved both the card and the envelope.

The card below measures about 9 inches wide x 7 inches in height and is from an unidentified Christmas season.

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

Back to prior page            Go to next page