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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.

Merrill McCormick

Full name:
William Merrill McCormick

1892 - 1953

Began in silents. His sound films include at least 185 westerns and 16 serials

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Charles Starrett, Merrill McCormick and Frank Ellis in TWO-FISTED SHERIFF (Columbia, 1937).

Colorado born Merrill McCormick began his screen career in silent films - and there is an occasional mention of an actor and director named Merrill McCormick in tradepapers and magazines during those silent movie days. When he registered for the World War I draft in 1917, McCormick was an actor employed by the Universal Film Company.

By the 1930s, he had become typecast in westerns, generally portraying a henchman, cowhand, barfly, et al. He was pencil thin which gave him a tallish appearance. And he generally sported a mustache and whiskers, wore a high top hat, and often had a cigarette hanging from his lips.

Suffering from heart problems, Merrill McCormick died August 19, 1953 at the Baldy View Sanitarium, San Gabriel, California. As a footnote, Jerome 'Curly' Howard of Three Stooges fame lived out his final days at Baldy View, and passed away there on January 18, 1952.

Merrill McCormick's first film was circa 1916 and his last movie and TV appearances were in the mid 1950s.

  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Merrill McCormick:

The Family Search website (free), the California Death Index, and the death certificate provide more on Merrill McCormick:

  • World War I draft registration - 25 year old William Merrill McCormick was born February 5, 1892 in Denver, Colorado; he was single; lived at the Santa Barbara Apartments, Los Angeles; occupation was "Actor, Moving Pictures" and employer was Universal Film Co., Universal City California:
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 27 year old William M. McCormick (born Colorado) and his 59 year old mother Jeannette McCormick (born Wisconsin; widowed) were living at 1603 North Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles. He was single and occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures":
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 38 year old William M. McCormick (born Colorado) and his 66 year old mother Jeannette (born Wisconsin; widowed) were renting at 2354 Stanley Hills Drive, Los Angeles. He was single; occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures"; and he replies "No" to the are you a veteran question:
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 47 year old William M Mccormick (born Colorado) was one of many lodgers residing at a rooming house or hotel at 2307 Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles. He was single; had 3 years of college; and occupation was "Actor - Motion Picture Studio", and in 1939, he worked 30 weeks and earned $1200.00:
  • 1942 World War II draft registration - William Merrill McCormick was born February 5, 1892 in Denver, Colorado; still resided at 2307 Cahuenga, Los Angeles; occupation was "free lance actor". His contact was Grace Seidel (the manager of the rooming house - see the 1940 census):
  • Death certificate - William Merrill McCormick passed away on August 19, 1953 at the Baldy View Sanitarium, 8101 E. Hill Drive, San Gabriel, California, and he had been a patient there for 2 1/2 weeks. He was born February 5, 1892 in Colorado; was never married; no military service; and occupation was "Actor - Stage & Screen". Cause of death was arterioscloratic heart disease of five years duration. Funeral director was Utter-McKinley and burial at Valhalla Cemetery.
  • California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - William Merrill Mccormick was born February 5, 1892 in Colorado and passed away on August 19, 1953 in the Los Angeles area:
  • Find A Grave confirms that McCormick is interred at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California:

(Courtesy of Dorothy Hack)

Above are Merrill McCormick (on the left) and Herman Hack on their way to work circa mid 1930s. The street intersection may be Hollywood and Western.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Merrill McCormick, Buddy Roosevelt, and Barbara Starr in RANGE RIDERS (Superior, 1934). In this, McCormick is Roosevelt's sidekick 'Pedro'.

(Image courtesy of Carol Murray and her "Jack Hendricks Photo Album")

Above from left to right are Jack Hendricks (grounded), George Morrell, Merrill McCormick (beard), George Regas (moustache), and Leroy Mason in a still from the Kermit Maynard mountie film THE FIGHTING TROOPER (Ambassador-Conn, 1934).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

From L-to-R are Tex Palmer, Oscar Gahan, Merrill McCormick, Charlie King, and Denver Dixon in a scene from the Jack Randall DANGER VALLEY (Monogram, 1937).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above are an older Merrill McCormick (black hat and mustache, left side), Smiley Burnette, and an older Frank McCarroll (red shirt). Les Adams adds that McCarroll probably doubled Smiley in this, as he often did Dub Taylor. Lobby card from THE BLAZING TRAIL (Columbia, 1949), one of the Charles Starrett / Durango Kid adventures.

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