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On the trail of Lane Chandler / Robert Clinton Oakes
Updated: July 2, 2017

(Courtesy of Jack Jones)
Lane Chandler, circa 1928

(From Old Corral image collection)
Lane Chandler, 1950s

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Lane Chandler:

Not sure if Chandler was a friend of Cecil B. DeMille ... or just a dependable support/bit player. He worked in a dozen DeMille sound films during the years 1932 through 1958:,nm0001124

It's always interesting to click through excerpts of newspaper headlines and clippings at the Google newspaper archives at:
While some of the articles are free, many go to newspaper websites where you have to pay to retrieve the full article:

1928 newspapers blurbs on newcomers selected for Paramount's "Stars of Tomorrow" - among the names were Fay Wray, Louise Brooks, Jack Luden, Richard Arlen, Gary Cooper, Charles Rogers (Buddy Rogers), and Lane Chandler:,5288765,5761988

Census and info on the Oakes Family and son Robert (Lane Chandler)

Curt Eriksmoen is a book author and writes newspaper articles and columns about Hollywood personalities that were born in North Dakota. Curt provided the following info on Lane Chandler/Robert Oakes:

Following up on Curt's info on the Oakes family, I checked the Family Search website (free), (subscription), ProQuest obituaries, Newspaper Archive, and many other sources. The Oakes family moved around a lot and I've highlighted that in red:

His real name was Robert Clinton Oakes ... not Robert Chandler Oakes.

There was an article titled "Giving Their Wrong Names" by Marquis Busby in the March, 1930 issue of Motion Picture magazine. The subject was about the real names of many actresses and actors. Lane Chandler is mentioned twice - and his real name was Robert Clinton Oakes.

And his World War I draft registration has his full name as Robert Clinton Oakes.

Lane Chandler in Montana ... and his early Hollywood biography

The Oakes family moved around ... a lot. Lane Chandler was born in North Dakota. Then the family was (briefly) in South Dakota, followed by Wisconsin. Their next stop was Montana, and Chandler's attendance at Montana Wesleyan College begins in 1919.

From the 1923 Montana Wesleyan College "Prickly
Pear" yearbook, available at the Internet Archive.

Above- Robert was Captain-elect for the 1924 football team.

His sister Bess Oakes is listed as a music student in the 1923 yearbook.

The Internet Archive has full copies of the "Prickly Pear" yearbooks from Montana Wesleyan College. Robert Oakes (as well as his sister Bess Oakes) were students. Robert was a guard on the football team, his nickname was "Slats", and he was also on the honor roll.

The earliest yearbook reference to Oakes at Montana Wesleyan is in the 1922 yearbook. He is a member of the "W" Athletics Club with a notation that he played football in 1919.

The yearbooks at the Internet Archive have more on Robert Oakes/Lane Chandler:
1922 yearbook:
1923 yearbook:

The September 29, 1929 issue of Film Daily mentioned that Chandler did not complete his Senior college year. Excerpts: "Lane Chandler ... was a member of the Montana Wesleyan College team ... He was nominated captain-elect of the 1923 football eleven, but did not return to school."

However, Oakes is listed as an Academy Senior in that 1923 yearbook - see below. Unsure if he finished ... or if he left prior to graduation.

From the 1923 Montana Wesleyan College "Prickly
Pear" yearbook, available at the Internet Archive.

From the October, 1927 issue of Photoplay magazine, available at the Internet Archive.

Above is Lane Chandler from the October, 1927 issue of Photoplay magazine - and this biography was most likely enhanced by Paramount. This appears to be the background info that has been carried forward on Chandler.

We do know that he was NOT born in Montana. And he was NOT a cowboy that was raised on a ranch owned by his dad. The status of father George Oakes is not clear - he was with the family at the time of the South Dakota 1905 census but was missing in the 1910 U. S. Census when the Oakes clan was living in Wisconsin.

I wondered about Chandler's time at Paramount, and the following trade publications provided a timeline of his contracts and renewals:

May 26, 1927 issue of Film Daily: "Newcomer for Nevada Role? Hollywood - Lane Chandler, screen newcomer, is reported to have been selected for the leading role in 'Nevada' for Paramount."

June 26, 1927 issue of Film Daily: "Chandler Signed for Five Years. Hollywood - Lane Chandler will appear in Paramount pictures for five years under a new contract."

August 18, 1927 issue of Film Daily: "Before departing for Zion Park, Utah, where exteriors on 'Open Range' will be filmed, Lane Chandler signed a new contract with Paramount."

October 25, 1927 issue of Film Daily: "Paramount has signed Lane Chandler under a new long-term contract."

September 18, 1927 issue of Film Daily: "Lane Chandler and Betty Bronson have completed ... 'Open Range'."

January 5, 1928 issue of Film Daily: "Lane Chandler has signed a long term Paramount contract."

May 4, 1928 issue of Film Daily: "Among those signed to new Paramount contracts in the past few days are ... Lane Chandler ..."

June 1, 1929 issue of Hollywood Filmograph: "Lane Chandler, under contract to Paramount for the past two years, will free-lance following the completion of his present contract on July 6."

September 15, 1929 issue of Film Daily: "Lane Chandler, who supported Clara Bow, Esther Ralston and other stars in Paramount pictures, is starring in 'Lightning Express', a Universal serial."

Above is a crop from a large theater advertisement for hometown boy Lane Chandler/Bob Oakes starring in OPEN RANGE (Paramount, 1927). From the January 20, 1928 edition of the Helena (Montana) Daily Independent newspaper.

The ad mentions Oakes attendance at Intermountain College. In the mid 1920s, the College of Montana merged with Oakes' alma mater Montana Wesleyan to form Intermountain Union College.

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