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Saddle Pals & Sidekicks
The Juvenile Helpers

Bobby Nelson

Full name:
Robert Julius Nelson

1922 - 1974

Bobby - 1937 and about 15 years old.

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

Best buddies - Bobby Nelson and 'Lobo' in THUNDERBOLT (Regal, 1935).

Bobby Nelson (1922 - 1974) was born Robert Julius Nelson on January 17, 1922 in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California to Jack Claude Nelson and Stella Louise Herner.

He did child roles in several silents and starred for Universal in the Pioneer Kid series in the late 1920s.

When talkies arrived, Bobby appeared in westerns with Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, Wally Wales, Buck Jones, Tom Tyler, Buffalo Bill, Jr. (Jay Wilsey), Tom Keene, and Rex Lease.

His last films were Johnny Mack Brown and Bob Steele westerns for producer A. W. Hackel which were released in 1936 - 1937.

He was about fifteen years old when he exited the movie business.

Les Adams has Bobby spotted in about thirty sound films, and that includes 19 westerns and 5 serials.

Bobby's father was writer/director/actor Jack Nelson (1888 - 1969). The senior Nelson began acting in the 1910s, and most of his directing work occurred in the 1920s - for example, he helmed Bob Custer silent oaters for producer Jesse J. Goldburg and FBO as well as co-directing (with Ray Taylor) a couple of Frank Merrill jungle serials, PERILS OF THE JUNGLE (Weiss Brothers/Artclass, 1927) and TARZAN THE MIGHTY (Universal, 1928). Both of those cliffhangers included young Bobby in the cast. In the 1930s, Jack Nelson directed a few ultra low budget westerns including THE BORDER MENACE (Aywon, 1934) with Bill Cody and THE RAWHIDE TERROR (Security, 1934), a disjointed cheapy produced by Art Mix/Denver Dixon/Victor Adamson. Jack Nelson also co-wrote the screenplay for the Richard Talmadge cliffhanger PIRATE TREASURE (Universal, 1934).

Bobby enlisted in the Army for World War II service. He passed away on December 5, 1974 and is interred at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. Found no funeral notice or obituary on him at or the Newspaper Archive.

His life and family post WW2 service is a mystery. Bobby is listed in about a half dozen family trees on, and I communicated with a couple of tree owners in November, 2022. No one had specifics on his later years, career, etc.

The Family Search website (free) and (subscription) have more on Bobby Nelson and parents. In the info below, there is confusion with his mother's surname - appears to be "Herner" but other variations are "Heiner" and "Heiser", and I've highlighted those names in this color:

  • Birth certificate for Robert Julius Nelson. He was born January 17, 1922 at the Loamshier Hospital, Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California to 33 year old Jack Claude Nelson (born Tennessee; occupation "Motion Picture Actor") and Stella Louise Heiner (born Russia; "Housewife"):
  • California Birth Index for Robert J. Nelson. He was born January 17, 1922 in the Los Angeles area, and mother's maiden name was Heiser:
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - renting in Los Angeles, California were 39 year old John C. Nelson (born Tennessee; occupation "Director - Studio"), his 37 year old wife Stella L. (born Russia), and 8 year old son Robert J. (born California):
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - renting in Los Angeles, California were 49 year old Jack Nelson (born Tennessee; occupation "Writer"), his 35 year old wife Stella (born Russia; no occupation listed), and 19 year old son Robert (born California; no occupation listed):
  • had Bobby's World War II draft registration dated June 30, 1942 - 20 year old Robert Julius Nelson was born January 17, 1922 in Santa Monica Beach, California. Contact was his mother, Stella Nelson, and they lived at 1426 North Edgemont Avenue, Los Angeles. His employer was a "Texaco Gas Station".
  • had the Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File which has a birth month error - Robert J. Nelson was born November 17, 1922 and died December 5, 1974. He enlisted October 29, 1942 and was discharged February 10, 1946.
  • California Death Index also has that birth month error - Robert J. Nelson was born November 17, 1922 and passed away on December 5, 1974 in the Los Angeles area:
  • had the Social Security Applications and Claims Index - Bobby Nelson's initial Social Security application was filed March, 1937 under the name Robert Julius Nelson. He was born January 17, 1922 in Santa Monica, California and died December 5, 1974. Parents were Jack C. Nelson and Stella L. Herner.
  • The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs Gravesite Locator has a record for Robert J. Nelson, born January 17, 1922 and died December 5, 1974. He was a Private First Class, U. S. Army, and interred at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. The Gravesite Locator is at:
  • Find A Grave website confirms that veteran Bobby Nelson was interred at Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California and the marker reads Robert J. Nelson, PFC U S Army, January 17, 1922 - December 5, 1974:

More on Bobby's parents, Stella Louise Nelson (1903 - 1959) and John C. / Jack Nelson (1888 - 1969). Note that Stella's father was "Julius". And some family trees on have Jack Nelson passing November, 1948 in North Bay, Ontario, Canada. That Jack Nelson was not Bobby's father.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Bobby Nelson and his father, actor/writer/director Jack Nelson:
   Bobby Nelson:
   Jack Nelson:

There's info and images of Bobby and Jack Nelson doing the TARZAN THE MIGHTY (Universal, 1928) serial at:

From the July 13, 1929 Hollywood Filmograph magazine, available at the Internet Archive. Bobby was starring in Universal's 'Pioneer Kid' silents and his grandfather was Julius Herner who was with the Chicago Opera Company. Quick research on Julius Herner indicates a lengthy career as Principal cello with the Metropolitan Opera, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, more.

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

Producer Sherman S. Krellberg's low rent Regal Pictures churned out about a dozen films in the mid to late 1930s. The only western was THUNDERBOLT (Regal, 1935), a movie that I've never seen. The story has Kane Richmond, youngster Bobby Nelson, and "Lobo the Marvel Dog" battlin' Barney Furey and Frank Hagney. Above are Bobby Nelson and Lobo in the title lobby card for THUNDERBOLT.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the title lobby card from THE COWBOY AND THE BANDIT (Superior, 1935).  Bobby Nelson is shown on the left with the chaps. Star Rex Lease (green shirt) is all tied up and on horseback. And the gal is Blanche Mehaffey, being billed here as 'Janet Morgan'.

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

Above - title card for THE GHOST RIDER (Argosy/Superior, 1935). Upper right are hero Rex Lease, Ann Carrol, and (maybe) Eddie Parker. Bottom left are Rex Lease and Bobby Nelson, and a crop / blowup is below.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Black Jack Ward, John Alexander, Blackie Whiteford and Bobby Nelson in THE GHOST RIDER (Argosy/Superior, 1935) which starred Rex Lease.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

L-to-R are Allen Greer, Budd Buster, William Farnum, Bobby Nelson, Nancy Caswell, Josef Swickard, and Milburn Morante in a Chapter 9 lobby card from CUSTER'S LAST STAND (Weiss / Stage & Screen, 1936).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above, a young and slim Johnny Mack Brown pays attention to veteran supporting player Steve Clark, who is making a point with his finger.  Between Brown and Clark is Bobby Nelson. And over JMB's right shoulder is Horace Murphy.  Scene from BOOTHILL BRIGADE (A. W. Hackel/Republic, 1937). This was one of Bobby's last movie roles.

Above is Bobby's father Jack Nelson / John Claude Nelson during his early years as an actor. Photo from the August 3, 1912 issue of Motography, available at the Internet Archive. In 1912, Jack Nelson was one of many actors working for the Selig Polyscope film company.

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