In THE SAVAGE HORDE (1950), Elliott plays a gunfighter called Ringo who gives up his gun when he accidentally wounds his own brother (Jim Davis), a cavalry officer charged with pursuing him. The now-pacifist Elliott rides into the middle of a range war, with Bob Steele as the head gunman of a gang headed by Grant Withers and including Roy Barcroft. Adrian Booth returns as Elliott's former love interest, who is being courted by Withers until she realizes his evil intent toward the ranchers. After a shootout with Steele's character, Elliott gives himself up to the army to face whatever charges it has against him. The last thing we see is Booth watching him ride away and, again, we don't know if he will be cleared and return to her or not.
Elliott's last Republic movie is THE SHOWDOWN (1950), in which he agrees to head a cattle drive for rancher Walter Brennan and investor Marie Windsor to find which member of the crew murdered his brother. The movie is full of surprises which should not be spoiled by too many details, for those who have not seen it. It was not at all a bad picture for Elliott's Republic career to end on.
In 1951, Elliott made his last studio jump, to Monogram (later Allied Artists) for his last western series, where he played different characters each time but was once more billed in the cast as Wild Bill Elliott (complete with a return to the familiar stag-handled butt-forward pistols). THE LONGHORN has him and Myron Healey hiring ex-cons to bring Herefords to Wyoming for cross-breeding. Healey, who is Elliott's rival for Phyllis Coates, is also betraying him to rustlers led by future TV Lone Ranger John Hart. But he changes sides in time to stop a bullet. Allied Artists re-made the picture in color in 1956 as CANYON RIVER, with George Montgomery and Peter Graves in the Elliott-Healey roles.
In WACO (1952), Elliott starts as an outlaw but reforms to become a lawman, and must fight some of his old gang to save his town. KANSAS TERRITORY (1952), which reunites Elliott with Peggy Stewart, has Elliott again seeking revenge for a brother's murder. Veteran sidekick Fuzzy Knight joins the cast. FARGO (1952) has Elliott losing still another brother to Healey, an out-and-out villain this time. Coates and Knight are back in the cast. Elliott is a cavalry officer in THE MAVERICK (1952), Healey is his sergeant, and Coates again the leading lady. THE HOMESTEADERS (1953) has Elliott hiring ex-soldiers (much as in the ex-outlaws of The Longhorn) to pack dynamite to his fellow homesteaders in Oregon to clear their land. This time his betraying partner is played by Robert Lowery, but Lowery reforms in time to avoid being killed off. REBEL CITY (1953) has Elliott seeking revenge for his father's murder this time, and uncovering the culprit. TOPEKA (1953) starts Elliott off as an outlaw again, but his gang ends up getting rid of a town's rival gang headed by Harry Lauter. Elliott and partner Rick Vallin end up as lawmen, but must then fight their own gang members. Coates and Knight are back in the cast. VIGILANTE TERROR (1953) pits Elliott against masked terrorists headed by Healey. Mary Ellen Kay, a frequent Rex Allen leading lady, shows up here with Knight again. BITTER CREEK (1954) has Elliott yet again seeking his brother's killer, Beverly Garland trying to keep him from breaking the law, and Carleton Young as the prominent rancher who, it turns out, is behind it all.
(From Old Corral collection)
Above - Wild Bill Elliott wqs re-united with Republic leading lady Peggy Stewart in KANSAS TERRITORY (Monogram, 1952), one of Elliott's best from his post Republic days. He's back wearing a brace of stag-handled six shooters. Note the "Filmed in Glorious SEPIA TONE" blurb on this lobby card.
(From Old Corral collection)
Above from left to right are Myron Healy, Henry Rowland and Bill Elliott in a scene from VIGILANTE TERROR (Allied Artists, 1953).
Elliott's last western movie is THE FORTY-NINERS (1954), in which he plays marshal assigned to track down three murderers in a California boom town. Veteran badman Lane Bradford plays the sheriff, complete with two pearl-handled guns, but he's still bad and ends up on the losing side of a gunfight with Elliott's character. Harry Morgan plays a cardsharp who leads Elliott to the killers.
Wild Bill Elliott was no more. But Elliott, simply as Bill Elliott, still had five Allied Artists movies to go in 1955 - 1957. In each of them, he plays a Los Angeles detective, in the first (DIAL RED O) as Lieutenant Flynn and the others as Lieutenant Doyle. SUDDEN DANGER, CALLING HOMICIDE, CHAIN OF EVIDENCE AND FOOTSTEPS IN THE NIGHT completed his movie career. In 1950, he did a TV pilot for a show called MARSHAL OF TRAIL CITY, which reunited him with Dub Taylor, but the series never sold. Neither did PARSON OF THE WEST, along the lines of his old HELLFIRE picture.
1958 - 1961 was a difficult period for Wild Bill. He and first wife Helen Josephine Meyer/Meyers/Myers (1907 - 1985) were married in 1927, separated in 1958, and she was granted a 1961 divorce in Los Angeles. While the separation and divorce was going on, Elliott lived in Nevada with model Dolly Jean Moore (Dolly Genevieve Herbst) (1932 - 2001). Dolly had two children from a prior marriage, and she and Wild Bill tied the knot in late 1961 after his divorce was finalized. June, 1960 Reno, Nevada newspapers noted that Elliott purchased a 6,000 acre ranch in Ruby Valley (south of Elko, Nevada). He was also closing the ranch and stable that he operated in Calabasas, California. Those plans were short lived and June, 1961 Reno newspapers reported that Elliott was having problems paying his bills. Among the creditors was actor Joel McCrea who held the mortgage on Bill's ranch and filed suit to foreclose. Wild Bill's ranching days ended in October, 1961 when McCrea took ownership of the spread at a sheriff's auction.
Elliott then moved to Las Vegas where he hosted a weekly TV show interviewing guests and showing A and B westerns including some of his old movies. He became an advertising spokesman for a cigarette manufacturer, and died of cancer November 26, 1965.
Elliott's B-westerns always seemed a cut above the average, from Wild Bill Hickok to Red Ryder, and his A's were tops in practically everyone's western lists. He perfected the badman-turned-good role pioneered in silent movies by Hart, and was a worthy successor.
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, Johnny Mack Brown ... and Bill Elliott.
|Popularity Rankings of Bill Elliott|
Elliott's highest rating shown in this color
|Year||Motion Picture Herald
|1943||9th||No poll conducted|
Childhood and teen years in Pattonsburg, Missouri and Kansas City, Missouri:
Census and other records:
Found no marriage records on Elliott. But newspaper reports and family trees on Ancestry.com provide info on his two wives:
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Bill Elliott and Dub Taylor:
Wild Bill Elliott: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0254381/
Dub 'Cannonball' Taylor: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0852305/
YouTube has Elliott starring in the unsold TV pilot MARSHALL OF TRAIL CITY (and the opening titles spell MARSHAL with two LL's): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq4v1IJrH44
Elliott films and clips on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22wild+bill+elliott%22
J. David Goldin's RadioGoldIndex website has a listing of five 15 minute episodes of Elliott in the 1948 "Mystery Of The Vanishing Stagecoach" which also has Quaker commercials. Episode details have them as syndicated as well as ABC broadcast. The first show appears to be an audition program. When you get to the site, click "Start Here", then select "Search By Artist", then select E for Elliott radio credits. You'll find about a half dozen shows listed under William Elliott as well as Bill Elliott: http://radiogoldindex.com/
The Fred Harman museum is located in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and their Pagosa Springs Sun newspaper has many articles about the annual Red Ryder Roundup celebration. Below are links to articles about the annual Red Ryder Roundups held in 2009 and 2011:
The Daviess County, Missouri Historical Society has info on Elliott: