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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.

Parkinson - circa 1943

Parkinson - circa 1944

(Courtesy of Patricia L. Manson)
Parkinson in an unidentified film role.
Cliff Parkinson

Full name: Clifford Emmitt Parkinson

1898 - 1950

Special thanks to Patricia L. Manson for the photos and information on her uncle Cliff Parkinson. Thanks also to Lynda Anne Parkinson for info on her grandfather. Sad to report that Lynda passed away in December, 2010.

Born in Kansas, Cliff Parkinson entered films around 1933. His Hollywood career spanned nearly twenty years and about 75 films, most of which were B westerns. Most were uncredited roles as a henchman, townsman, etc. He also did some stunting and doubling.

His most frequent employer was Hopalong Cassidy producer Harry 'Pop' Sherman. Parkinson worked in about two dozen of the William Boyd/Hoppy adventures which were released by Paramount and United Artists. And in the 1940s, he shows up in Republic oaters starring the Three Mesquiteers, Roy Rogers, Sunset Carson, Allan Lane, Bill Elliott, more. Parkinson was still working circa 1950 which was the year of his passing.

A June, 1940 newspaper column on Hollywood happenings mentioned Cliff along with several others:

"Making a good living playing dead are four Hollywood cowboys, Cliff Parkinson, Art Felix, Clem Fuller and Dean Spencer. They are the ones who always 'dead fall' from their horses in chases at $25 a fall."

In the 1940 census below, Parkinson's earnings for 1939 were a respectable $3000.00 and he worked 40 weeks. Yet, the Internet Movie Database has him acting in only four 1939 films.

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

Family Search (free), (subscription), ProQuest Obituaries, the California Death Index, and death certificate provide more on Cliff Parkinson. Note the (mis)spellings of his last name as "Perkinson" (with an E) in the 1900 and 1910 census and "Perpinson" in 1940.

  • 1900 census: listed under the last name of Perkinson are 30 year old father Joseph (born Wisconsin; occupation farmer), 28 year old wife Nancy (born Illinois), 5 year old daughter Ethel (born Kansas) and 2 year old son Clifford (born Kansas). They were living in Grant, Jewell County, Kansas:
    1900 census takers worksheet:
  • 1910 census: listed under the last name of Perkinson were 40 year old father Joseph E. (born Wisconsin; occupation farmer), 36 year old wife Nancy E. (born Illinois), 14 year old daughter Ethel V. (born Kansas), 11 year old son Clifford E. (born Kansas), and 2 year old daughter Madeline L. (born Colorado). They were living in Kirk, Yuma County, Colorado:
  • Ancestry had several 1939-1940 city directories for the Van Nuys, California/San Fernando Valley area:
    Parkinson Clifford E (Frances) studio wkr h13251 Vanowen (h designation indicates home address; studio wkr = "studio worker")
  • 1940 census: listed under the last name of Perpinson are 41 year old Clifford E. (born Kansas), 29 year old wife Francis W. (born California), 8 year old daughter Nancy Z. (born California) and 3 year old Joeph [sic] (born California):
    1940 census takers worksheet - they owned their home at 13251 Van Owen, Los Angeles. His occupation was "Actor-Moving Pictures", and in 1939, he worked 40 weeks and earned $3000.00:
  • Death certificate: 52 year old Clifford Emmitt Parkinson passed away on October 1, 1950 at the Motion Picture Country Home, Los Angeles. He was born September 3, 1898 in Kansas; occupation was "Actor-Motion Pictures"; and he and wife Frances lived at 18108 Strathern Street, Los Angeles. He had been operated on for intestinal cancer in September, 1950 and passed away on October 1, 1950 from peritonitis and a ruptured appendix. Pierce Bros. Hollywood was the funeral director and interment at Valhalla.
  • California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - Clifford Emmitt Parkinson was born 9/3/1898 in Kansas, Mother's maiden name of Pixley, and he passed away on 10/1/1950.
  • The October 4, 1950 edition of the Los Angeles Times newspaper had a funeral notice. Excerpts: "Cliff E. Parkinson ... motion picture stunt man ... lived at 19108 Strathern St., Reseda. ... died ... in the Motion Picture Country Home and leaves his widow Frances; a daughter Mrs. Mahlon Yoakum; and a son, Joseph Parkinson."

Find A Grave confirms that Parkinson is interred at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California:

Patricia L. Manson remembers her uncle, Cliff Parkinson:

I always called Cliff "Uncle Bucky".

His wife was Francis and they had a daughter Nancy (who Cliff called "Peaches") and a son Joseph (who I called "Little Bucky"). Nancy was my age, born in 1932, and Little Bucky was about four years younger. Little Bucky and I had fun playing together. I guess I was a tomboy and Nancy was more lady like ... so I've been told.

My mother, who was named Madeline, became ill with cancer when I was eight years old and died when I was ten. She was thirty-two. I spent summers, Easter and Christmas with my uncle's family. My uncle was very kind to me and I know he loved my Mom who was his baby sister. They also had a sister named Ethel, and to me, she was "Aunt Babe".

Sometimes when I was with them, we would go on location (Lone Pine) and to previews of films at Republic Studios. That was exciting. Once we watched him ride a horse off a cliff and was caught in a net, horse and all. That was scary. I know Cliff was a double or stand in for Joel McCrea.

I saw Nancy one time after I was married and that was when our Aunt Babe was dying. Nancy was married and had a son. After that, we got busy with our lives and lost contact.

One more memory - my uncle was a good friend of Ronald Reagan. When Reagan and Jane Wyman split up, Reagan brought his horses to my uncle's little ranch in Van Nuys, California. Cliff had a small house in back of the family home and Mr. Reagan would spend the night there. He was popular then. I had always hoped that he would be there when I came to visit, but no luck. I know they lived in Van Nuys when I was married (December 9, 1949). In 1951, Aunt Francis and Little Bucky lived in Lakewood, California and my husband and I went to visit them (that was after Cliff had passed away).

Patricia L. Manson
May, 2005

Lynda Anne Parkinson adds a bit more on her grandfather:

In 2001, Lynda Anne Parkinson e-mailed me about her grandfather: "I have little info on him myself. I remember my grandmother telling me he died of cancer and he was an extra and stunt man in western films. He had two children by the names of Nancy and Joseph (Joe was Lynda's dad). My Aunt Nancy died of cancer in the mid 60's. My father died in early 95."

Parkinson is interred at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California, Lot 4, Section 7765, Memorial G.
(Courtesy of Dale Crawford & Jim Sorensen)

(Courtesy of Patricia L. Manson)

Above from L-to-R are an unidentified player, Cliff Parkinson and Fred Kohler, Jr. in a scene from THE PECOS KID (Commodore, 1935), one of a pair of mid 1930s oaters in which the younger Kohler was the lead and hero.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Herman Hack, Henry Wills, Cliff Parkinson and Tom London in THE SAN ANTONIO KID (Republic, 1944), one of the Red Ryder series starring Bill Elliott.

(Courtesy of Patricia L. Manson)

Above are Cliff Parkinson (left) with Tito Guizar (real name: Federico Arturo Guízar Tolentino, 1908-1999). Guizar is remembered by B-western fans for his appearances in a pair of Roy Rogers oaters, ON THE OLD SPANISH TRAIL (Republic, 1947) and THE GAY RANCHERO (Republic, 1948).

(Courtesy of Patricia L. Manson)

Above - Cliff Parkinson, probably early 1930s and wearing a sombrero, a Spanish costume ... and regular shoes.

(Courtesy of Patricia L. Manson)

Above is a very young Cliff Parkinson and his trusty Ford. Enlargement of the license plates shows Hawaii 1922 on the bottom plate and the top plate is California 1927.

(Courtesy of Patricia L. Manson)

No date or info on the background location on the above photo of Cliff Parkinson, probably mid to late 1930s. Possibly at Republic Pictures or another studio?

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