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Rodd Redwing / Rodric Redwing
Birth name: Webb Richardson / Ulysses Webb Richardson Jr.
1904 - 1971

(Courtesy of Jim Martin)

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)
Above - Redwing in CATTLE

(Pressbook clipping courtesy of Les Adams)

A familiar face in westerns and TV programs during the 1940s - 1960s was Chickasaw Indian Rodd Redwing.

Redwing's real name was Webb Richardson, and he was born 1904 in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Lillian and Ulysses W. Richardson. His parents were African American and in census records, his father was an elevator operator and later, a barber. Mother Lillian was a hair dresser. They divorced in 1920.

In 1929, Webb Richardson was in New York City, acting in the play "Malinda" in Greenwich Village. A review mentions that it was an "all-colored dramatic-musical". (Link to an article on the play is further down this webpage.)

A few years later, he was In Hollywood pursuing an acting career ... and re-inventing himself as "Rodric Redwing". Confirmation of his arrival in Tinseltown were 1934 and 1936 Los Angeles voter registrations for Rodric Redwing, occupation "Actor".

His career spanned from the mid 1930s through his passing in 1971 and included many westerns, serials, and television shows. Most of his roles were portraying Native Americans.

He also was considered the fastest - or one of the fastest - quick draw artists and instructed many Hollywood personalities including Richard Widmark, Charlton Heston, Anthony Quinn, Glenn Ford, Alan Ladd, and Elvis Presley. He was also an expert showman with a whip, knives, and tomahawks.

I remember him in the cliffhanger, THE SON OF GERONIMO (Columbia, 1952). Clayton Moore starred - he was available during his year off from the Lone Ranger TV show (when John Hart portrayed the LR). Redwing has a lot of dialog and screen time portraying Geronimo's son 'Porico', and he's billed fourth behind Moore, Bud Osborne and Tommy Farrell. Moore and Redwing - and their doubles - have some great slugfests in later episodes in the serial.

Some Redwing movie and TV highlights:

  • he played the Gurkha Sergeant breaking trail for Errol Flynn and his paratroopers in OBJECTIVE BURMA (Warners, 1945).
  • he was a cavalry trooper / Indian guide in LITTLE BIG HORN (Lippert, 1951) which starred Lloyd Bridges and John Ireland.
  • he's Native American "Mr. Brother" in about a half dozen episodes of THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP television program.

Some Redwing biographies mention that he did World War II military service. Found no supporting records on that. We do know that he worked in about ten films during 1942 - 1945. There was also a surprise - he's listed as a "waiter" in the 1942 Los Angeles City Directory.

Movies and TV work, public appearances, and charity events kept him busy. Redwing also was a gunsmith for the Stembridge Gun Rental shop which was located on the Paramount studio lot. Among Rodd's jobs was as a "powder man" loading blank cartridges.

He was on a movie shoot in Spain for RED SUN (1971) which starred Charles Bronson. On his May 30, 1971 flight home to Los Angeles, he suffered a heart attack and died. He and wife Erika had no children.

The cremains of he and his mother Lillian are interred next to each other at Hollywood Forever (AKA Beth Olam Cemetery, Hollywood Memorial Cemetery), Hollywood, California.

He fibbed about his Native American lineage. But his Indian persona was dignified and sincere ... and he became a well respected member of the Hollywood movie community.

(Courtesy of Jim Martin)

Fast draw champion Jim Martin, Redwing and Jock Mahoney did trick shooting shows in the 1950s in Southern California and Las Vegas. Jim Martin writes:

"Above is Rodd standing proudly next to the bullet backstop displaying knife and pendulum with two targets, one on each side of the blade. The shot is called 'the pendulum trick'. With the pendulum swinging from side to side, one bullet passes thru the open two-inch hole. The bullet is split on the knife blade and breaks both targets.

When you mentioned the stereotyping and the reputations for the Indians always being the bad guys, you reminded me of one time Rodd and I were practicing our gun work in Rodd's hideout above a gun store in North Hollywood that had formerly been a dance studio with the mirrors all along one wall. He used the mirrors to watch himself do the gun tricks so he could see what it looked like to an audience. While we were taking a break, he told me that someday he wanted to make a western where the Indians would go against stereotype and charge UP the hill instead of always coming down the hill."

Jim Martin has more on his friend Rodd Redwing:

(Courtesy of Jim Martin)

There's questions and confusion about his birth place, family name, and background. Below are three biography variations. There are more.

1. Redwing claimed he was a Chickasaw Indian. (See pressbook clipping at top of this webpage.) That lineage was summarized in an April, 1951 syndicated "Sights and Sounds from Hollywood" column by Gene Hanksaker. Excerpt:

"He's a fascinating fellow, half Chicksaw [sic] and half Hindu. His India-born, Brahman father was a mind-reader on the Keith vaudeville circuit. His Mississippi born mother operated beauty parlors with her sisters in New York. There she met and married 'Prince Rajpurkaii'. Rod's original name was Rodric Ashmed Tokaji Hokar Kar Rajpurkaii."

2. A Rodd Redwing biography has been available for years at Wikipedia. Here's from April, 2022:

"Rodd Redwing (August 24, 1904 - May 29, 1971) was an American actor and a noted quick-draw artist with a six-gun. He claimed to be Native American, although in the 1940 United States Census, his birthplace was listed as India and some sources reported his real name was Roderick Rajpurkaii Jr. He was also known as Roderic Redwing and Rodric Redwing."

3. In 2023, there was a significant revision to his Wikipedia biography. Redwing was Black, not Native American. And the updated bio provides more on his early life before he became "Rodd Redwing":

"Rodd Redwing (August 24, 1904 - May 29, 1971) was born Webb Richardson on August 24, 1904 in Tennessee, USA. His father, Ulysses William Richardson (b. 1873), was Black and was an elevator man from Tennessee. His mother, Lillian Webb (b. 1878), was also Black and worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. Lillian divorced her husband William in 1920. Their son Webb moved to New York to pursue a career in acting and appeared in the 1929 musical 'Malinda' in Greenwich Village with a cast of African American performers. Webb later changed his birthname to Redwing, adopted a Native American identity, and changed his birthplace to New York City. Some sources reported that he used the Hindu-sounding name Roderick Rajpurkaii Jr. and said his father was a Brahmin mind reader from India."

Angela Aleiss, PhD, is author of Hollywood's Native Americans: Stories of Identity and Resistance (Praeger, 2022) and has taught at CSU Long Beach and UCLA.

Her research included Native American "pretenders" such as Webb Richardson who became Rodd Redwing. Angela's book may have been the impetus for that recent Wikipedia update.

She and I exchanged e-mails over the past few years on Redwing. Special thanks to Angela for help and hints on his real life.

On the trail of Rodd Redwing

Richardson family info is available in the census for 1910, 1920, and 1930 and a few other records. And the Richardson family home address is consistent - 517 Georgia Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

His full birth name MAY be Ulysses Webb Richardson Jr. and I've highlighted his name variations in this color:

  • 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - 5 year old Webb Richardson (born Tennessee; race Mulatto) was living with his parents at 517 Georgia Avenue, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee. His 38 year old father was Julius [sic] W. Richardson (born U. S.; race Mulatto; occupation "Elevator Man") and mother was 32 year old Lillian (born Tennessee; race Mulatto; occupation "Hairdresser"):
  • World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 for 45 year old Ulysses William Richardson. He and wife Lillian Webb Richardson lived at 517 Georgia Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee; he was Black; born March 1, 1873; and was an "Elevator Man" at the Chattanooga Post Office and Custom House:
  • May 1, 1920 Chattanooga, Tennessee News reported that Lillian Webb 'Lillie' Richardson filed for divorce from Ulysses William Richardson. She was a hair dresser and masseur. He was an elevator man and now a well known barber:
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - owning their home at 517 Georgia Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee were 46 year old Ulysses W. Richardson (born Tennessee; race was Black; occupation "Barber"). With him was 15 year old son Ulysses W. Richardson Jr. (born Tennessee; race was Black):
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - son Webb was no longer with his father in Chattanooga. And the census taker had spelling problems with names Ulysses and Richardson. 56 year old Ulysis W. Richerdson (born Tennessee; race was Black; occupation "Barber Shop") and 37 year old wife Susie M. Richerdson (born Tennessee; race was Black) own their home at 517 Georgia Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee:
  • Webb was in New York City and the December 11, 1929 Brooklyn, New York Daily Eagle has an article on the play "Malinda", and actor Webb Richardson was in the cast of this "an all-colored dramatic-musical":
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 26 year old Webb Richardson (born Tennessee about 1904; occupation "Actor - Motion Pictures") is one of four roomers living with 48 year old widow Birdie Johnson and her children at 2014 Fifth Avenue, New York City. He was Black; father was born in Tennessee and mother in Mississippi:

Records with the "Redwing" name begin in the mid 1930s:

  • had the 1934, 1936 and 1938 Voter Registrations for Los Angeles County - Rodric Redwing (occupation "Actor") lived at 1422 North Kingsley Drive.
  • Social Security application dated February 27, 1937 for 32 year old Rodric Redwing - he was born August 24, 1904 in New York City; parents were Ulysses William Richardson and Lillian Redwing; he was Indian; was living in Los Angeles; and employer was Central Casting, Hollywood.
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 35 year old Rodric? Redwing (born India; occupation "Actor - Pictures") and his 28 year old wife Erika (born Germany) were lodgers living at 1749 La Brea, Los Angeles, California:
  • Fold3 Military records had his World War II draft registration dated February 14, 1942 - 37 year old Rodric Redwing was born August 24, 1904 in New York City. He and wife Erika lived at 1439 1/2 North Tamarind Avenue, Los Angeles, California. Employer was "Central Casting Corp". He was 5 feet, 10 1/2 inches tall, weighed 162 pounds, and race was "Indian".
  • 1942 Los Angeles City Directory has Roderic Redwing as a "waiter" and living at 1437 Tamirand Ave:
  • had the 1942 Voter Registrations for Los Angeles County - Rodric Redwing (occupation "Actor") and Mrs. Erika R. Redwing ("housewife") lived at 1439 1/2 Tamirand Avenue.
  • 1950 census summary and census takers worksheet - 45 year old Rodric Redwing (born New York; occupation "Actor - Motion Pictures") and his 38 year old wife Erika (born Germany - occupation "Manicurist") lived at 2022 Pinehurst Road, Los Angeles. His race was "Indian":
  • had the 1952, 1954, and 1956 Voter Registrations for Los Angeles County - Rodric Redwing and Mrs. Erika R. Redwing lived at 2022 Pinehurst Road.
  • had the California Marriage Index for 55 year old Rodric Redwing and 47 year old Erika R. Wagner, and they married on March 30, 1959 in Los Angeles. (Probably in a "common-law" arrangement for many years, and formalized their marriage in 1959 with a license and vows.)
  • California Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Rodd Redwing - he was born August 24, 1904 in New York and passed away May 30, 1971 in the Los Angeles area:
  • Death and funeral notice on Rodd Redwing in the June 2, 1971 Los Angeles Times newspaper:
  • The June 2, 1971 issue of Variety reported on his death from a heart attack. Excerpt: " Redwing, a Chickasaw born in N. Y., was stricken en route from London 30 minutes before landing at L. A. International Airport. He was pronounced dead 35 minutes later. He was returning from Spain, where he appeared in 'The Red Sun'. "
  • Redwing was cremated. Find A Grave has a photo of the marker for Rodd Redwing (1904 - 1971) at Hollywood Forever (AKA Beth Olam Cemetery , Hollywood Memorial Cemetery), Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California:

Is there documentation tying the Richardson name and family to Redwing? Yes! Death records of his mother Lillian provide that tie-in.

Rodd was involved in his mother's funeral and cremation in Chattanooga, Tennessee and interment in California ... and good probability is that he added "Redwing" to her name in the death notice and death certificate.

  • Obituary in the February 28, 1953 Chattanooga, Tennessee Daily Times for Redwing's mother, Lillian Richardson Redwing Taylor. Survivors included "Son, Mr. Rodd Redwing, Los Angeles, Calif.":
  • State of Tennessee Death Certificate for 64? year old Lillian Redwing Richardson Taylor. She passed away February 19, 1953 in Chattanooga, Tennessee from a heart attack. She was a widow; race was Indian; occupation was "Beautician"; and she had lived in Chattanooga for 43 years. Death certificate informant was Rodd Redwing, 2022 Pinehurst Road, Los Angeles (same address as Rodd's 1950 census and 1952 and 1954 voter registrations listed above).
  • Find A Grave has a photo of the marker for Lillian Richardson Redwing (1878 - 1953). Her cremains are interred next to son Rodd Redwing at Hollywood Forever (AKA Beth Olam Cemetery , Hollywood Memorial Cemetery), Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California. The inscription on her marker reads "Lillian Redwing, Mother, 1878 - 1953":

More on Rodd's wife, Erika R. Wagner:


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

Webb was in New York City and the December 11, 1929 Brooklyn, New York Daily Eagle has an article on the play "Malinda", and actor Webb Richardson was in the cast of this "all-colored dramatic-musical":

August 2, 1949 Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper article on the career and background of Rodd Redwing. Can't believe everything ya read! :

November 17, 1952 Los Angeles Evening Citizen News has a lengthy article on Rodd Redwing (and others) who were "powder men" loading blank cartridges at Stembridge Gun Rentals:

In 1958, Redwing was a guest on the "I've Got A Secret" TV program. YouTube has a video from the show:

Several Rodd Redwing photos are available at the Los Angeles Library:

Getty Images has several photos of Rodd Redwing in the WYATT EARP TV program:,rm

Redwing has a lot of dialogue and screen time in SON OF GERONIMO (Columbia, 1952; 15 chapters). And he does a good job. Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" website has a webpage on that serial:

Rodd Redwing biography at Wikipedia:

(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Above - Rodd Redwing as 'Bearclaw' in the Ken Curtis
starrer, RIDERS OF THE PONY EXPRESS (Screencraft, 1949).

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