Back to prior page

The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.

(From Old Corral collection)
Harry Woods

Full name:
Harry/Harrison Lewis Woods, Sr.

1889 - 1968

(From Old Corral collection)

Harry Woods was frequently employed at Columbia Pictures, and in the above lobby card from ROLLING CARAVANS (Columbia, 1938), he is bested by Jack Luden and his canine pal 'Tuffy'. Harry was almost fifty years old. Luden was one of many cowboy heroes who had a brief starring career. Tuffy worked in all four of the Jack Luden Columbia oaters and the talented pooch can also be seen in other films, including Republic's HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS and DAREDEVILS OF THE RED CIRCLE cliffhangers.

Harry Lewis Woods was born May 5, 1889 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was working in the millinery business at the time of the 1910 census. When he registered for the World War I draft in 1917, he was married, had children, and also had a career and location change. Harry, wife Helen and their two sons were living in Akron, Ohio and he was an inspector for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron. The family was still in Akron for the 1920 census and he was a salesman for the rubber company.

Sometime in the early 1920s, the family moved to Hollywood where Woods found non-acting work at the Hal Roach studio. The story goes that he was chosen to play a heavy in one of the Roach silents, and from then on, his career became movies ... mostly as a villain.

Large framed, a bit over six foot tall, and with piercing eyes, Woods developed and honed his screen persona, and became one of the classic, snarling, just plain mean and ornery screen baddies ... and most often, he was the "brains heavy" or second-in-command. Roy Barcroft, the noted bad guy of Republic Pictures, said that Woods was his role model.

Harry's film and television career spanned about forty years, beginning circa 1923 and continuing into the early 1960s. He appeared in about 25 films at Republic Pictures where he worked his villainy against Rogers, Autry, Sunset Carson, the Three Mesquiteers, more. However, most of his screen time occurred at other studios such as Columbia, Universal, Warners, RKO, Monogram/Allied Artists, etc. In the photos and lobby cards shown above and below, you'll find him menacing Bob Baker, Buck Jones, Dick Foran, Jack Luden, Smith Ballew, Robert Shayne, the Mesquiteers, and the Rough Riders.

Did Harry ever portray a good guy? Not often. However, I do recall him as a U.S. Marshal working with Wild Bill Elliott and George 'Gabby' Hayes in BORDERTOWN GUNFIGHTERS (Republic, 1943). And in COURAGE OF THE WEST (Universal, 1937) Woods is a no-good, escapes jail and his hanging ... and is the father of singin' cowboy Bob Baker. Years later, he re-appears when Baker is full grown. And Harry loses his life at the end helpin' his son defeat the baddies.

Woods can be occasionally spotted in support/bit roles in A grade films including some higher budgeted oaters. For example, he was a vicious prison guard pushing star Paul Muni around in I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (Warners, 1932). And he's at his malevolent best - and cherishing the moment - taking a whip to star Warner Baxter (as "Joaquin Murrieta") in ROBIN HOOD OF EL DORADO (MGM, 1936).

Harry did appear in some early televison, including episodes of GUNSMOKE, STORIES OF THE CENTURY, KIT CARSON, BAT MASTERSON, BUFFALO BILL JR., RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE, others. In 1958 - 1960, he's played the local doctor in about a half dozen episodes of TOMBSTONE TERRITORY.

Les Adams has Woods identified in about 180 sound era films - of those, 103 are westerns and 5 are serials.

Harry Woods passed away on December 28, 1968 from uremia at the King Manor Convalescent Hospital, Santa Ana, California and is interred at Valhalla Cemetery.

(Courtesy of Dale Crawford & Jim Sorensen)
Harry L. Woods Sr. is interred at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California, Memorial G, Lot 6890, Grave #3.

Some biographies mention that Harry got the "acting bug" and performed on stage in Ohio. And he was an avid golfer, and in his spare time, he did extensive carpentry and remodeling work for folks in Hollywoodland. I've not been able to confirm any of that.

Additionally, our movie villain Harry Woods is sometimes confused with songwriter/lyricist Harry Woods who wrote songs like "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbing Along" and "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover". That songwriter was Harry MacGregor Woods (1896 - 1970) and you can find more about him at the Song Writers Hall of Fame website:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has a webpage on Harry Woods and his work in serials:

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

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), Newspaper Archive, death certificate, California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), and newspapers have information on Harry Woods and the Woods family. The information below is a good example of spelling issues by the census taker as well as mistakes made in the conversion to digital records - for example, there's wife Hellen vs. Helen and daughter Maril Lee vs. Marillee:

Did you notice that Harry's youngest son is sometimes Harry ... sometimes Harrison ... and later Harry L. Woods Jr.? Methinks that father Harry's first name was Harrison. And it looks like Harry Jr., - who was born about 1919 in Ohio - did some 1940s and 1950s movies and television. Details below on Harry Jr., AKA Craig Woods:

  • The October 29, 1942 issue of the Film Daily tradepaper had an interesting blurb on a Harry Woods family member. Excerpt: "CRAIG WOODS, son of Harry L. Woods, veteran character actor has been screen-tested by Columbia and placed under term contract by the studio. Woods was discovered ... while working as a gas station attendant."
  • The April 12, 1943 issue of Film Daily noted that Craig Woods was reoptioned by Columbia (meaning signed to another contract).
  • December 23, 1944 Los Angeles County marriage license of 26 year old Harry Lewis Woods Jr. (occupation "Actor-Motion Pictures") to 31 year old Gwen Seager (occupation "Actress-Motion Pictures") in Santa Monica, California. This was the 2nd marriage for both. His father and mother were Harry Lewis Woods Sr. and H. Hockenberry:
  • January 27, 1951 Los Angeles County marriage license of 32 year old Harry Lewis Woods Jr. (born Ohio; divorced) to 18 year old Barbara Patricia Shannon (born Wisconsin; never married). No occupations listed for either. His parents were Harry Lewis Woods Sr. and Helen Hockenberry:
Some additional records on Harry L. Woods Jr./Craig Woods:
  • World War II enlistment of Harry L. Woods, born 1918 in Ohio, and he enlisted as a Private in the Army Air Corps on September 27, 1940 at Fort Macarthur, San Pedro, California:
  • California Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records for: Harry L. Woods, born 4/14/1918 in Ohio, and he passed away on 9/12/1974 in Orange County, California.
  • Find A Grave website has a photo of the markers for Harry Craig Woods (1918 - 1974) and his mother, Helen P. Woods (1893 - 1974). Both are interred at Pacific View Memorial Park, Corona del Mar, Orange County, California:

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on:
          Craig Woods:
          Gwen Seager:

(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Above - Craig Woods

Above is a photo ad for Harry Woods in the "Heavies" section of the 1925 Standard Casting Directory (available at the Internet Archive).

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

Left to right are Harry Woods, Buck Jones, George Plues, and Tom Bay in Jones' THE LONE RIDER (Beverly/Columbia, 1930).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

L-to-R are the eavesdropping Buck Jones, Harry Woods and Edward Peil in a lobby card from THE TEXAS RANGER (Columbia, 1931), one of the Beverly Productions that Jones made in the early 1930s for producer Sol Lesser.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Left to right are J. Farrell McDonald, Lois January, and Harry Woods in Bob Baker's COURAGE OF THE WEST (Universal, 1937).

(From Old Corral collection)

J. Farrell MacDonald has the drop on Harry Woods in this Realart/Film Classics re-release lobby card from Bob Baker's COURAGE OF THE WEST (Universal, 1937). Crop/blowup of MacDonald and Woods is shown below.

(From Old Corral collection)

L-to-R are Black Jack O'Shea, Earle Hodgins, Harry Woods and Bob Livingston in a duotone re-release lobby card from the Three Mesquiteers adventure, RANGE DEFENDERS (Republic, 1937).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

L-to-R are Jim Corey, Dick Foran and Harry Woods in a lobby card from LAND BEYOND THE LAW (Warners, 1937), one of the better entries in the Dick Foran Warners series thanks to the direction of B. Reeves 'Breezy' Eason. The rider on the far right is Henry Otho, one of the henchmen working for Woods.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from L-to-R are Cy Kendall, Dick Foran and Harry Woods in another lobby card from Foran's LAND BEYOND THE LAW (Warners, 1937).

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

Above - Jack Luden starred in four Columbia oaters in the late 1930s. In this still from STAGECOACH DAYS (Columbia, 1938), Luden confronts Harry Woods.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the re-issue title lobby card for HAWAIIAN BUCKAROO (20th Century Fox, 1938). Singing cowboy Smith Ballew was up against Harry Woods, shown in the left inset with the dark shirt as well as at the receiving end of Ballew's left-handed punch.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - two of western film's greatest bad guys, Roy Barcroft (left with white hat) and Harry Woods (standing and wearing a suit), listen in as Buck Jones chats with Tim McCoy in WEST OF THE LAW (Monogram, 1942), the last of the eight films in Monogram's Rough Riders series.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Harry Woods, Tom Tyler, Anita Camargo, Jack Kenny (beard), Robert Shayne and Pedro De Cordoba (sometimes spelled Cordova) in the Warners "Santa Fe Trail" two reel short, GUN TO GUN (Warners, 1944). Robert Shayne was the star of this short and is best remembered for his later role as "Inspector Henderson" on the SUPERMAN TV show.

Back to prior page