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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.



(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
 
(From Old Corral collection)


In Search of ... Ted Adams

Full name may be: Richard Theodore Adams

1890 - 1973


Ted Adams was a frequent villain in both westerns and serials, and he was employed by all the major and minor production companies. His Hollywood career spanned about twenty five years and his film and TV work ran from the late 1920s through the mid 1950s. Known to most B western fans as "Ted Adams", he was "Richard Adams" and "Theodore Adams" in some movie roles. And in mid 1930s issues of the "Academy Players Directory", he's listed as "Ted Adams" and "Richard (Ted) Adams".

Existing biographies have him born in New York to parents that were vaudeville performers. But Ted's World War II draft registration has his birth info as March 22, 1890 in Hazelton [sic], Pennsylvania (probably Hazleton, Pennsylvania). The 1930 census also has Ted with a Pennsylvania birth location.

He seemed to find most of his work with the Poverty Row independents as well as the smaller film production outfits such as Monogram and PRC. At Republic Pictures, he appeared in about two dozen features and serials during the years 1936 - 1951. However, about a third of those were westerns from A. W. Hackel (of Supreme Pictures) which starred Johnny Mack Brown and Bob Steele. In the year or so after the mid 1930s formation of Republic Pictures, the new company needed some cowboy films to round out their releases and attract distributors and theater owners. Republic contracted with Hackel to release his Brown and Steele films under the Republic logo.

There are a significant quantity of good Ted Adams roles in both westerns and serials. A few highlights:

Adams was one of "dependables" employed by prolific director Sam Newfield and he's in about three dozen Newfield features released during 1936 - 1943. Circa 1945, an older Ted Adams found a home at Monogram Pictures and worked in eighteen films with Johnny Mack Brown, three each with Jimmy Wakely and Whip Wilson, and a solo shot with Wild Bill Elliott. He also freelanced and can be spotted in B westerns with with Charles Starrett, Buster Crabbe, Eddie Dean, Lash LaRue, Roy Rogers, Monte Hale, 'Rocky' Lane, Tim Holt, others.

B movie bad guy Jack Ingram had a western act at theaters circa early 1940s and Adams was a member of Ingram's stage show - more on that below.

By the early 1950s, the low budget western and serial were coming to an end. Adams was one of B movie veterans that transitioned to television and appeared in a few early TV programs including THE LONE RANGER and CISCO KID.

Les Adams has Ted identified in about 190 sound films - of that number, 162 are westerns and 17 are serials. Ted's last film and TV jobs were circa 1952.

In his later years, Ted Adams resided at the Braewood Convalescent Hospital, South Pasadena, California, and he passed away there from coronary thrombosis and coronary respiritory failure on September 24, 1973. Was hopeful that his death certificate would have info on Ted's parents. But his parents are listed as unknown. The death certificate informant was Motion Picture Relief, Woodland Hills, California (Motion Picture Home and Hospital), and that indicates that no friend or family member was with Adams when he died.


Below is a chart of Ted Adams' movie career from 1924 - 1952 in westerns, serials, shorts, and other films. His few TV appearances are not included. I've used the RELEASE dates (not filming dates) from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
Total films in this chart = 192 and about two-thirds are westerns and serials.
5
6
9
6
1
7
12
11
9
20
17
9
13
5
0
2
11
17
8
12
4
6
2
1924-
1930
1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952



Ted Adams kept a low profile.
Lots of chaos and confusion with his biography.
And nothing on him and his family in census and other records prior to 1930.

Among the earliest biographies on the Old Corral website was Ted Adams and his profile went online in 1999. But there were questions and missing pieces in his history, and over the years, I've done several re-looks in hopes of finding more on he and his family. Did another refresh in late 2021 ... and there's still lots of questions.

Existing biographies on Adams have him born in New York, and he/his family worked in vaudeville. And from the 1910s through early 1930s, Ted was busy performing in plays and on the stage. Some sources claim he attended Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) and served a hitch in the U. S. Navy during World War I as well as additional Navy or military duty during 1944-1945. He was also close friends with actor Leo Carrillo, and appeared in stage plays with Carrillo.

Unable to confirm that biographical info.

The 1930 census and his World War II draft registration indicates Adams was born in Pennsylvania (not New York).

At the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), there's a few films listed for him during 1944 - 1945 (when he may have been doing military service ... or out of action due to illness or injury).

There's (slight) birth date discrepancies between the California Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) - March 17, 1890 vs. March 22, 1890.

Found very few records on Adams at ancestry.com and Family Search. Was hoping to locate a family tree on him - but found nothing.

In their Best Of The Badmen book, authors Boyd Magers, Bob Nareau and Bobby Copeland have comments about Adams from western bad guy Pierce Lyden: "He lived in a room on Western Ave. just off Hollywood Blvd. and I used to visit him there." 1942 and 1944 California Voter Registrations and World War II draft registration confirm that Ted (and his wife Charlotte) were living on Western Avenue in Los Angeles.

I did not find a death or funeral notice on Adams at ProQuest Obituaries, Newspaper Archive, or newspapers.com websites.

Many Cornell University yearbooks are online and searchable at: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007390657. I searched the 1908 - 1917 yearbooks using several different search terms including: "richard t.", "theodore", and "adams". Alas - no matches to our B western actor. Those yearbooks also have photos with mini biographies on the students - I checked the "last names beginning with A" photo section in each yearbook - and no luck finding our guy.

As noted above, I found no family trees on Ancestry.com. And the earliest record on Ted Adams was the 1930 census.

Conjecture: methinks that "Adams" was a stage name ... possibly an abbreviated or "Americanized" version of his real surname which has yet to be discovered.


  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Ted Adams: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0011389/

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), death certificate, California Death Index, and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have information on Ted Adams. Pay particular attention to Pierce Lyden's mention that Adams lived on Western Avenue (and I've highlighted that in red):





(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

The color photo above is about 26" x 22", and Ken Jones has this framed and displayed.  An interesting tidbit is the wanted poster with the names used by Jack Ingram and Ted Adams in their traveling stage show circa 1940.

Les Adams provides more details:

The poses and costumes come from Bob Steele's DURANGO VALLEY RAIDERS (A. W. Hackel/Republic, 1938).  I knew I had seen Ingram in that arrow-pocket shirt somewhere, and ran a search on titles they were in together and DV RAIDERS came up early, and struck a chord with me. Took a gander at it last night and there they both were - Ingram in a non-typical shirt for a villain and Adams in a costume and hat that nearly duplicates what Johnny Mack Brown wore later at Universal.

Neither ever played a role as 'Sundown Rogers' (Ingram) or 'Ace Hawkins' (Adams).  Even more interesting is that in my entire database on westerns and serials, I find no film that ever used Sundown Rogers or Ace Hawkins as a name for any character. None. Zip. Nada. I suspect they performed in some kind of stage skit with Sundown Rogers and Ace Hawkins as the character names.  And they were able to find two names, before the age of computer searches, that had never been used in a western is amazing.

Newspaper article and ad for Jack Ingram and Ted Adams, "The Two Best Bad Men of Western Pictures", in their "Showdown" stage show at a theater in Tulare, California in 1940:
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/88665502/tulare-advance-register/
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/88395075/western-movie-badmen-jack-ingram-and/




(From Old Corral collection)

L-to-R are Molly O'Day, Bill Cody and Ted Adams in a lobby card from the Cody starrer LAWLESS BORDER (Spectrum, 1935).



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from L-to-R are heroine Lois January, Tim McCoy in his Mexican disguise, and baddie Ted Adams in BORDER CABELLERO (Puritan, 1936).



(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Ted Adams, Ernie Adams, and Bob Steele in ARIZONA GUNFIGHTER (Republic, 1937), one of the A. W. Hackel/Supreme oaters released by Republic Pictures. This was one of Ted Adams' better roles, playing reformed gunman "Wolf Whitson".



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Reed Howes, Dave O'Brien, Carleton Young, Bob Steele, Claire Rochelle and Ted Adams in a scene from RIDERS OF THE SAGE (Metropolitan, 1939).



(From Old Corral collection)

Above from L-to-R are Carleton Young (hand on door handle) followed by Ted Adams and behind him is Robert Walker.  On the right side of the door are Bob Steele and Betty Mack. Lobby card from THE PAL FROM TEXAS (Metropolitan, 1939).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Bob Steele, Ted Adams and Bud Osborne in Steele's last for Metropolitan and Harry S. Webb, WILD HORSE VALLEY (Metropolitan, 1940).



(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Ted Adams (left) is all tied up in this discussion with Lee Powell in ROLLING DOWN THE GREAT DIVIDE (PRC, 1942), one of the six films in PRC's short lived Frontier Marshal trio series.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above are the quartet of no-goodniks from the Allan Lane serial DAREDEVILS OF THE WEST (Republic, 1943). From left to right are William Haade, Robert Frazer, Ted Adams and George J. Lewis. Frazer is the brains heavy and Adams is his crooked attorney. Haade and Lewis report to them.



(From Old Corral collection)

Left to right are Roy Barcroft, Ted Adams and Allan Lane in STAGECOACH TO DENVER (Republic, 1946), one of the Red Ryder adventures.



(From Old Corral collection)

L-to-R are Ted Adams, Frank Ellis, Shirley Patterson (Shawn Smith) and singin' cowboy Eddie Dean in TUMBLEWEED TRAIL (PRC, 1946).




(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Johnny Mack Brown and Ted Adams wait for the baddies in CODE OF THE SADDLE (Monogram, 1947).



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