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Unkempt, rough and tough looking members of the gang, or lynch mob, or vigilantes, or posse riders, or cow herders. They had minimal or no dialog, not much screen time, and were generally not listed in the film credits. Some would show up as a face in the crowd, portraying townspeople, barflys, deputies, wagon drivers, ranch hands, etc. We tend to recognize some of their faces, but have no clue as to their real names.


Francis Walker
Frank Walker


Full name: Francis William Walker

1910 - 1971

appeared in at least 93 westerns and 4 serials ... and still counting. Plus lots of stunt work and doubling.


Francis William Walker was born April 1, 1910 in Fruitvale, Washington County, Idaho to William Thomas Walker and Leona Margaret Murray.

I tend to recall Walker in Columbia oaters just prior to and during the early days of World War II - rightly so, as he appeared in nearly four dozen of the Bill Elliott and Charles Starrett Columbias from that time period. And he was a big man - 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches tall and 183 pounds on his World War II draft registration.

His film career spanned about a dozen years, from about 1933 - 1945, and most of his roles were that of gang member / henchman, and he was mostly unbilled / uncredited. And he also did lots of doubling and stunt work. Walker was a very busy guy - check his reported earnings of $5000.00+ in the 1940 census below.

He enlisted in the Army on May 21, 1942 as a Private. A family tree on Ancestry.com provided more on his military service as a drill and training instructor for about 3 1/2 years at the Army Air Corps base at Sheppard Field, Texas. He was a sergeant when he was discharged.

Walker and Kathryn B. Collins were married on December 6, 1942 by the Post Chaplain, Army Air Forces Technical Training Command School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

He briefly returned to movies after his military service. He and Kathryn settled in Burbank and later moved to Redding, California. And Frank did a career change to a trucker and then owner / operator of his Walker Trucking Company in Redding.

The California Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have Walker passing away on March 8, 1971 in Shasta County, California. Profiles on him note he died in Redding, California (which is the county seat of Shasta County). I did not find a death notice or obituary at Newspapers.com or the Newspaper Archive website.

For those with a subscription to Ancestry.com, do a search for Francis William Walker and you should find a Lee/Morales Family Tree. That tree has lots of info and photos of Walker, including extensive coverage of his Army Air Corps / Air Force service in WW2. Excerpt from his "LifeStory" section from that Lee/Morales family tree:

"In 1942 Francis was stationed in Sioux Falls where he met and married his wife Kathryn B. Collins. He himself had been married and divorced with no children and Kathryn was a widow. In 1943 he transferred to Sheppard Field in Texas and served as a drill and training instructor for 3 1/2 years. After WWII he and Kay resided in Burbank, CA for about 15 years. In 1960 they moved to Redding, CA and he died in 1971. He had a 'non-cemetery' burial and his ashes spread over CA."

Among the many Francis Walker images in that family tree is a scanned photo page from the 1945 Army Air Force yearbook for Sheppard Field, Texas. And there's a photo of:
WALKER, Francis W., Sgt., 222 S. Orchard Dr., Burbank, Calif.
(Check Walker's WW2 draft registration below - that Orchard address is his Mother's home.)



Above is a very young Francis Walker in one of his earliest movie roles in the lacklustre RACKETEER ROUND-UP (Aywon, 1934). Mitchell Leichter, the boss of the short-lived Beaumont Pictures company, wound up acquiring RACKETEER, added 6-7 minutes of footage with "Black King, the Horse With the Human Brain", and released it as GUNNERS AND GUNS (Beaumont, 1935). Right is a 1935 theater ad for the Beaumont version.

 

(Courtesy of Les Adams)



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Dick Botiller's back and hat, unidentified player, Harry Carey, a very young Francis Walker (tall hat), Chuck Morrison and Bob Kortman in Carey's WILD MUSTANG (Ajax, 1935).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Archie Twitchell, Frank LaRue and Francis Walker in a scene from PRAIRIE STRANGER (Columbia, 1941), which starred Charles Starrett.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the title lobby card from the Astor re-issue of Bill Elliott's THE RETURN OF DANIEL BOONE (Columbia, 1941). Wild Bill has his arm around Betty Miles. In the upper right photo, Elliott has the drop on Bud Osborne and Francis Walker (standing) and Ray Bennett (kneeling).



  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Francis Walker: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0907733

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), ProQuest military records, the National Archives Army Enlistment Records database, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), and California Death Index have information on Francis Walker and family:

  • Idaho Birth Index record (not the birth certificate) for Francis William Walker, born April 1, 1910 in Fruitvale, Washington County, Idaho. Parents were 36 year old William Thomas Walker (born Illinois) and 32 year old Leona Margaret Murray (born Indiana): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2M1-3YKK
  • 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - census was taken April 28, 1910. Living in Council precinct, Washington County, Idaho are 36 year old William Walker (born Illinois; occupation "Farmer - Truck Farm"), his 33 year old wife Leona M. (born Indiana), 8 year old son Harry (born Nebraska), 5 year old daughter Lezetta (born Nebraska), 4 year old daughter Irene (born Nebraska), 1 year old son Eugene (born Idaho), and unnamed, one month old son (born Idaho): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLHT-VMY
  • 1920 census - there's a problem with the large Walker family at Family Search - the census taker recorded the family on two separate worksheets and Family Search has them recorded separately as two groups of four people.
    Renting at 1309 13th Street, Center, Hood River County, Oregon are 46 year old William Walker (born Illinois; occupation "Blacksmith"), his 42 year old wife Maggie L. (born Indiana), 17 year old son Harry (born Nebraska), 15 year old daughter Lissetta (born Nebraska), 13 year old daughter Irene (born Nebraska), 11 year old son Eugene (born Nebraska), 9 year old son Francis (born Idaho), and 7 year old daughter Elsie (born Idaho):
    https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4ZK-44Q
    https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4ZK-44N
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 56 year old William T. Walker (born Illinois), 52 year old wife Maggie L. (born Indiana), 21 year old son Eugene A., 20 year old son Francis W., and 17 year old daughter Elsie A. own their home at 222 South Orchard Drive, Burbank, California. The occupation of son Francis W. is "Tack man - Riding Academy" All three children were born in Idaho: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCFJ-4GD
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 30 year old Francis W. Walker (born Idaho) is divorced and is one of many roomers at 1140 North Gower in Los Angeles and he resided in Burbank, California in 1935. His occupation is "Motion Picture actor - Motion Picture Production", and in 1939, he worked 30 weeks and earned $5000.00+. If you view the census takers worksheet, note there are several other actors on the list: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9CX-74Q
  • Proquest Military Records had the World War II draft registration dated June 26, 1941 for Francis Walker. He was born April 1, 1910 but place of birth is not shown. He lived at 1219 Beachwood Drive, Los Angeles. Employer is Columbia Studio. Contact is his mother, Maggie Walker, 222 South Orchard Street, Burbank, California. He is 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches tall and weighs 183 pounds.
  • The National Archives 1938-1946 Army Enlistment Records database - Francis W. Walker is divorced and without dependents; born 1910 in Idaho; has two years of high school education; civilian occupation of "Actors and actresses"; and he enlisted as a Private on May 21, 1942 in Los Angeles.
    The following link will take you to that enlistment database - enter "Frank W. Walker" in the search box and then select California as the Residence State: http://aad.archives.gov/aad/fielded-search.jsp?dt=893&tf=F&cat=all&bc=sl,fd
  • Ancestry.com had the marriage record of 32 year old Francis W. Walker and 36 year old Kathryn B. Collins (widow). They were married December 6, 1942 by the Post Chaplain, Army Air Forces Technical Training Command School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
  • Ancestry.com had city directories for Burbank, California and Redding, California. Francis does go back to the movie business after WW2, but then becomes a trucker and operates a trucking company:
    1936 Burbank City Directory - Francis W. Walker (occupation "Actor") lives at 222 South Orchard Drive, Burbank, California.
    1946 Burbank City Directory - Francis W. Walker (occupation "Studio worker") and wife Kay live in Burbank, California. (After his discharge, they lived for a while at Francis' mother's house at 222 S. Orchard Drive - same address as 1930 census and his WW2 draft registration above).
    1952 Burbank City Directory - Francis W. Walker (occupation "trucker") and wife Kathryn B. live in Burbank.
    1953 Burbank City Directory business section - Francis W. Walker, "Trucking".
    1967, 1968, and 1969 Redding City Directories - Francis W. Walker (occupation "Walker's Trucking") and wife Kathryn live in Redding.
    1970 and 1971 Redding City Directory - Francis W. Walker (retired) and wife Kathryn B. live in Redding.
  • The California Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records for Francis W. Walker, born April 1, 1910 in Idaho, and passed away on March 8, 1971 in Shasta County, California:
    https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP2G-GPX
    https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VMMT-3Z5



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