Full name: Noah Nicholas Beery
1882 - 1946
Noah Beery (Senior) is one of the most remembered villains in silent and sound films. He was large on the screen and sizable in real life, weighing well over 200 pounds and about 6 feet, 1 inches in height. Though he personified evil on the screen, he was kind and gentle to family and friends, and never jealous about younger brother Wallace Beery having bigger roles and more recognition. Wallace was one of many stars at MGM, and won an Oscar for his lead role as a boxer and devoted father to youngster Jackie Cooper in THE CHAMP (MGM, 1931).
The book Dictionary of Missouri Biography (University of Missouri Press, 1999) by Lawrence O. Christensen, William E. Foley, Gary R. Kremer, and Kenneth H. Winn notes that Noah Beery Sr. "... was born on a Clay County, Missouri farm several miles northwest of Smithville on January 17, 1884." However, Noah's draft registrations and other records indicate his birthdate was January 17, 1882.
When the 1900 census was taken, the Beery family resided in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri. Teenager Noah was a "Street Car Conductor" and father Noah Webster Beery was a police officer.
In 1907, Noah married Beatrice Maudie Heath in Kansas City, but that pairing was short lived.
The family was still in Kansas City for the 1910 census, and the occupations of Noah and younger brother Wallace were "Actor - Theater". And Noah was divorced. Their father had turned in his badge and had become a "Keeper - Saloon". Noah did some stock theater in Missouri, New York, and other locales, and one of his earliest stage jobs was the play "As You Sow" which debuted at the McVickers Theater in Chicago in September, 1905. The company toured, and were at the Garden Theater in New York City in December, 1905.
Wife number two was actress Marguerite Walker Lindsay and they tied the knot on July 16, 1910 in Boston, Massachusetts. Her stage name was 'Marguerite Abbott'.
Tragedy struck. Their first child, Noah Lindsay Tilian Beery, was born January 18, 1912 and passed away on January 22, 1912 at Angelus Hospital, Los Angeles. His death was caused by cerebral hemorrhage and injuries at birth.
Son Noah Wilber Lindsay Beery was born August 10, 1913 in Manhattan, New York City, and he grew up to become actor Noah Beery, Jr.
From 1913 - 1915, Beery had a three year run in New York and on tour as the nice, sympathetic father of the leading lady in Klaw and Erlanger's play "Trail of the Lonesome Pine". Wife Marguerite was also in the cast of "Lonesome Pine". During that same period, he began doing films, and the short, THE INFLUENCE OF A CHILD (Kalem, 1913), may have been his cinema debut.
Circa 1916, he did more films including several in Florida for the Field Film Company of Miami. Circa 1917, Noah and family moved to California.
Above is Beery as the evil 'Sergeant Lejaune' in BEAU GESTE (Paramount, 1926). Photo from a May, 1928 issue of Picture Play magazine (available at the Internet Archive).
And all was not happy and peaceful between wife Marguerite and Noah. There were separations, a lengthy estrangement ... but no divorce. Some mentions:
Needing jobs and income, Noah spent much of 1935 - 1936 doing films in England and was there when his California resort burned. April, 1936 newspapers reported that "Fire last week destroyed the main hotel and dining room of the Paradise Trout Club, rendezvous of movie people, operated by Noah Beery, film player." Beery did not have insurance to cover the damages. Click HERE for an article on the fire.
Many recall his skullduggery in five cliffhangers:
Randolph Scott had become Paramount's new western hero and Beery did four with him and all were based on Zane Grey writings: TO THE LAST MAN (Paramount, 1933), THE THUNDERING HERD (Paramount, 1933), SUNSET PASS (Paramount, 1933), and MAN OF THE FOREST (Paramount, 1933). Henry Hathaway directed those four.
His B westerns were with George O'Brien at Fox; John Wayne at Warners and Monogram; Tim McCoy at Columbia; Smith Ballew at 20th Century Fox; the Bill Elliott / Tex Ritter duo at Columbia; and Gene Autry, Don Barry, and the Three Mesquiteers at Republic Pictures.
As 'Pedro Valdez', Noah hams it up helping Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette save an orphanage in MEXICALI ROSE (Republic, 1939), one of Gene's best. In the book Back In The Saddle Again (Doubleday & Company, 1978) by Gene Autry with Mickey Herskowitz, Gene commented about Noah in MEXICALI ROSE: "The cast included Noah Beery, Sr., who could chew up as much scenery as his brother Wallace."
He did the RED RYDER serial and four oaters with Don Barry. And Barry had positive memories about Noah: "How can you describe a man who loved his profession and everyone in it? I shall always remember how he helped a brash, smart ass, young punk. I loved him.". THE TULSA KID (Republic, 1940) is one of Barry's best - and a topnotch Republic oater. In that, Barry was an orphan raised by gunfighter Noah Sr. but they split up and go their separate ways. Now grown up, Barry winds up helping pretty Luana Walters and her brother fight a gang out to steal water rights. And guess who arrives in town? The gang boss hires gunslinger Noah Sr. to help his cause.
In 1943 - 1944, he had character parts in three MGMs that starred brother Wallace. He appeared in four East Side Kids comedies for Monogram Pictures: MR. MUGGS STEPS OUT (Monogram, 1943), CLANCY STREET BOYS (Monogram, 1943), BLOCK BUSTERS (Monogram, 1944), and MILLION DOLLAR KID (Monogram, 1944). And Noah was a crotchety old ranch owner in SING ME A SONG OF TEXAS (Columbia, 1945) which starred Tom Tyler and featured many musical entertainers and groups.
Then his luck changed and he landed a major role in a Broadway play. "Up In Central Park" was an operetta with music by Sigmund Romberg and opened January 27, 1945 at the New Century Theatre, New York City. It was a hit and ran for 500+ performances through April, 1946. The producer was Michael Todd, best remembered as the hubby of movie star Elizabeth Taylor and creator of the movie AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (1956). The New York run lasted fourteen months and Noah was 'Boss' Tweed, czar of 1870s Tammany Hall graft and corruption and involved in the building of New York's Central Park. Tryouts and rehearsals were in Philadelphia and the January 10, 1945 Variety noted that "Noah Beery, Sr. comes from the films to do a corking job as Boss Tweed."
"Up In Central Park" was a perfect fit as basso voiced Noah sang in movies and plays. There's some musical clips of him in the Links section at the bottom of this webpage.
In an interview, Beery commented about his apprehension on returning to the stage - "I began to wonder if I could play again after 31 years and still hold an audience in my hands. The old ham in me began working. Well, I came on and now my curiosity is satisfied. Opening night it seemed as if I hadn't been away at all." Click HERE for that interview.
Beery and the play received glowing reviews: "A happy stroke of casting is the choice of Noah Beery (THE Noah Beery, not his son) as Boss Tweed. He has the paunch, the arrogance and the punch to fit the character, and his part in the singing of 'Boss Tweed' is one of the high spots of the evening."
He lived at the Hotel Edison in New York City while doing the play, and in late March, 1946, took a two-week vacation break to California to celebrate brother Wally's birthday. While there, Wallace, Wally's daughter Carol Anne, Marjorie Main, and Noah were to star in the April 1, 1946 broadcast of "Barnacle Bill" on the Lux Radio Playhouse. According to his death certificate, 64 year old Noah was at his office at 6500 Colgate Avenue, Los Angeles, and passed from a heart attack around 8:00 a.m. on April 1, 1946. The show must go on ... and "Barnacle Bill" was broadcast that evening with radio performer Ed Max subbing for Noah.
Beery's will was filed for probate on April 9, 1946, and there was no provision for estranged wife Marguerite. He did bequeath some cash and personal effects to Marie E. Blodgett, his longtime secretary and business manager. The bulk of his estate went to Noah Jr.
In her later years, Marguerite lived with son Noah Jr. and his wife Maxine. She passed away from a heart attack on December 27, 1955.
Though their marriage was troubled, Noah and Marguerite (1882 - 1955) are interred next to each other at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California.
Noah was a wonderful villain. His crisp, deep voice was honed from years on stage. His facial expressions and body mannerisms were developed in silents. Seemed to always have a cigarette or stogie in his fingers. And he was boisterous with a wonderful laugh as he scowled, connived, and plotted his next move. Always fun to watch.
|Noah Beery's movie work from 1913-1945 in silents, talkies, westerns, serials, and other films. I've used the RELEASE dates (not filming dates) from the Internet Movie Database so the results may be a little skewed.|
Total film count in this chart = 206 films, and his busiest years were silents through the mid 1930s.
Beery also did five serials and the years in which they were released are shown in red: THE DEVIL HORSE (Mascot, 1932); FIGHTING WITH KIT CARSON (Mascot, 1933); ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1937); ADVENTURES OF RED RYDER (Republic, 1940); and OVERLAND MAIL (Universal, 1942).
Beery Sr. biography from the 1916 Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual (available at the Internet Archive). Note that he's Noah Beery Jr. in this bio ... and he's living in New York and doing films in Florida.
Beery Sr. biography from the 1929 Motion Picture Blue Book (available at the Internet Archive). Note the mention of Noah Wilbur Beery as his son.
Above is the Noah cooking up some trout at his Paradise Resort and Trout Club. From a May, 1928 issue of Picture Play magazine (available at the Internet Archive).
There were many ads in Los Angeles area newspapers from the late 1920s through 1936 for Noah's Paradise Mountain Resort and Trout Farm. The above ad is from 1931. His resort was destroyed in an April, 1936 fire.
(From Old Corral collection)
Above is Noah Beery, Jr. (1913 - 1994). Nicknamed "Pidge", he was born Noah Wilber Lindsay Beery on August 10, 1913 in Manhattan, New York City. In 1940, he married Maxine Evelyn Jones, the daughter of western movie hero Buck Jones, and they divorced in 1965.
Above is the Beery family during a 1928 celebration. Photo from the July 7, 1928 Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World (available at the Internet Archive). Not present is Noah's wife Marguerite, as they had ongoing marital problems.
Tradepaper ad from 1920. Noah was 'Wolf Larsen', the brutal captain of the sailing ship 'The Ghost'.
Tradepaper ad from 1921. Noah on the left with Madge Bellamy and pointing his six-shooter at Jack Holt.
Tradepaper ad from 1922 with Noah restraining Jane Novak.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Left to right are Noah Beery Sr., Billie Dove, and Jack Holt in a still from Holt's THE LIGHT OF WESTERN STARS (Paramount, 1925).
(From Old Corral collection)
Above are the real life father and son team of Noah Beery Sr. (as baddie 'Cyrus Kraft') and Noah Beery Jr. (as Johnny Mack Brown's Indian helper 'Nakomas'), in a lobby card from FIGHTING WITH KIT CARSON (Mascot, 1933). JMB is on the left wearing buckskins.
Father and son did several films together, and their first was probably the Douglas Fairbanks' MARK OF ZORRO (United Artists, 1920). In that, Senior played 'Sgt. Pedro Gonzales' and seven year old Noah Junior was uncredited as a kid in the background.
(From Old Corral collection)
Above from L-to-R are Noah Beery, Sr., Noah Beery, Jr., John Wayne and an unidentified player in a re-release lobby card from THE TRAIL BEYOND (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), one of Wayne's better films for producer Paul Malvern and his Lone Star production unit. Noah Sr. was a good guy in this northwoodsy adventure.
(From Old Corral collection)
In the ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1937) cliffhanger, Noah played brains heavy 'J. R. Marsden' and sent orders to his hirelings via short wave radio.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Noah was 'Ace Hanlon' in the ADVENTURES OF RED RYDER (Republic, 1940).
(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)
Above from Don Barry's THE TULSA KID (Republic, 1940). Left to right are Matty Roubert, Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, Luana Walters, Ethan Laidlaw, George Douglas, Noah Beery Sr., John Beach, and Jack Kirk.
On the trail of Noah Beery Senior
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Index, death certificate, newspapers, and other sources have information on Noah Beery Sr. and family:
Find A Grave website has a photo of the grave marker for Noah Beery, Sr. who is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7476
Noah's wife Marguerite Walker Lindsay / Lindsey:
Marguerite Beery (1882 - 1955) is interred next to Noah at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19769/marguerite-lindsey
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Noah Beery (1882 - 1946): https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001935/
Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" website has a webpage on Beery doing serials: https://filesofjerryblake.com/serial-villains/noah-beery-sr/
The Internet Broadway Database has Noah Sr. in three plays - two circa 1905 - 1906 and "Up in Central Park" in 1945 - 1946 with Beery portraying "Boss" Tweed: https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/noah-beery-sr-60737
The Playbill website has the playbill for Beery as 'Boss Tweed' in "Up in Central Park". The play ran for over 500 performances in New York City from January, 1945 to April, 1946: https://www.playbill.com/production/up-in-central-park-new-century-theatre-vault-0000006215"
The Museum of the City of New York has several photos of Noah Sr. as 'Boss Tweed' in the 1945 - 1946 play "Up in Central Park": https://collections.mcny.org/CS.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=24UAYWDDGXUSN
Playbills and photos from "Up In Central Park": https://overtures.org.uk/?p=19474
The Internet Archive has two 78 RPM Brunswick recordings of basso Noah Beery doing tunes from operettas by Oscar Hammerstein II which were released by Warners / First National:
Noah - with the Vitaphone Orchestra - singing "One Little Drink" from SONG OF THE FLAME (1930): https://archive.org/details/78_one-little-drink_noah-beery-vitaphone-orchestra-louis-silvers-clarke-akst_gbia0040789b
Noah - with the Vitaphone Orchestra - singing "The Whip" from GOLDEN DAWN (1930): https://archive.org/details/78_the-whip_noah-beery-vitaphone-orchestra-louis-silvers-harbach-hammerstein-2nd-kalma_gbia0040789a
And YouTube has a poor quality clip of a bald Noah singing "The Whip" in GOLDEN DAWN (1930): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA5sQHDYU98
YouTube has Noah Sr. in a 1937 interview in England for British Pathe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy9qP4pOLVE
YouTube and the Internet Archive have films with Noah that you can view or download:
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/moviesandfilms?query=%22Noah+Beery%22
J. David Goldin's RadioGoldIndex website has a listing of about a dozen radio shows with Beery. When you get to the site, click "Start Here", then select "Search By Artist". Then select B and scroll down for Noah Beery radio credits: https://radiogoldin.library.umkc.edu/
Wallace, Wally's daughter Carol Anne, Marjorie Main, and Noah Sr. were the stars of "Barnacle Bill" on the April 1, 1946 Lux Radio Playhouse broadcast. But Noah passed away from a heart attack prior to the show. Newspaper reports mentioned that radio performer Ed Max subbed for Noah Sr. in that broadcast. YouTube has that show from April 1, 1946 (and it mentions April Fool's Day): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-LpXSj4mUQ
Articles on the "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" play with Noah and wife Marguerite in the cast. Her stage name was 'Marguerite Abbott':
1914 in Brooklyn, New York: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/102754033/noah-beery-seniors-wife-marguerite-had/
1914 in St. Joseph, Missouri: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/102754179/noah-beery-seniors-wife-marguerite-had/
The Pasadena Now website has an article with photos of the property once owned by Noah for his Paradise Resort and Trout Farm. There's mentions of Hollywood celebs, wild parties, illegal booze, and more: https://www.pasadenanow.com/main/paradise-springs-eternal
More on the history of the Paradise Resort and Trout Farm at the Southern California Public Radio LAist website: https://laist.com/news/la-history/paradise-springs-hedonistic-history-mountain-resort-where-early-hollywood-went-wild-1920s-30s-prohibition-noah-wallace-beery