(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Myrtland Vivien / Vivian LaVarre
1901 - 1959
(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Myrtland Vivien / Vivian LaVarre, Jr.
1922 - 1973
Links on John Merton and his son, Lane Bradford.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has film appearance information on John Merton, sons Lane Bradford and Bob Lavarre, and Merton's brother "Andre de La Varre":
John Merton (Myrtland Vivien / Vivian Lavarre) (1901-1959): https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0581611/
Merton's son, actor Lane Bradford (Myrtland Vivien / Vivian Lavarre, Jr.) (1922-1973): https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0103048/
Merton's son, actor and cameraman Bob Lavarre (Robert Edwin Lavarre) (born 1933): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0491787
Merton's brother Franklin LaVarre (1904-1987) who changed his name to "Andre de La Varre" and became a prolific creator of film travelogues and documentaries: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0890186
The IMDb has a "people working together" search function. And the answer is Yes! John Merton and son Lane Bradford worked together in about a dozen films and TV shows: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?roles=nm0103048,nm0581611
The Internet Broadway Database has Myrtland La Varre in two New York plays, one in 1922-1923 and another in 1930: https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/myrtland-la-varre-48690
The Billy Rose Theater Collection at the New York Public Library has a great closeup of young Myrtland LaVarre, probably taken about 1922 when he appeared in the New York stage play "R.U.R. (Rossums Universal Robots)": https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47df-113f-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
There's more about John Merton and Lane Bradford's work in cliffhangers at Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website:
Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website has profiles on:
Merton was one of producer Sam Katzman's regulars. He did seven serials and a couple of the Johnny Weissmuller 'Jungle Jim' adventures for Katzman: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?roles=nm0581611,nm0441947
Merton was also a regular in features helmed by prolific director Sam Newfield. During the years 1936-1956, Merton did about two dozen Newfield westerns: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?roles=nm0581611,nm0627864
Merton did nine films for Cecil B. de Mille during the years 1934-1956: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?roles=nm0581611,nm0001124
Merton appeared in about a half dozen of the Three Stooges shorts at Columbia Pictures: http://www.threestooges.net/cast/actor/580/
YouTube and the Internet Archive have several public domain films with Merton:
On the trail of John Merton and his son Lane Bradford.
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), Newspaper Archive (subscription), California Death Index, Library of Congress newspaper archive, and the death certificate provide more on John Merton and his son Lane Bradford.|
Tracing Merton through various sources was a bit chaotic because of all the name variations that were found. Merton's real name was Myrtland Vivien / Vivian LaVarre. Other spellings include LaVarre, Lavarre, La Varre, Levarre. Still unsure whether his middle name was Vivian (with an a) or Vivien (with an e). His World War I draft registration has his middle name as "Vivien".
Find A Grave website confirms that Merton is interred at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California. The name on the marker reads John Merton LaVarre and "Johnny": https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/158908289/johnny-lavarre
Family Search has 1940s-1950s marriage records on four of John Merton's children (Robert, Geraldine, Gloria and Claudia). The following link will take you to La Varre marriages in California, and you can scroll through the names: https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=75&query=%2Bsurname%3Alavarre&collection_id=(1804002%201949339)
Myrtland La Varre Jr. - movie actor Lane Bradford:
Find A Grave website has info on Lane Bradford. He was born August 29, 1922 in Yonkers, Westchester County, New York and passed away June 7, 1973 in Hawaii. That June 7, 1973 date is incorrect. As noted on the death certificate, Bradford died on June 6, 1973 in Hawaii: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/81409795/lane-bradford
More on Merton's parents and three brothers.
Merton's father, William Johanne LaVarre (Senior) (1875-1948), was born in Georgia, became a naval architect and spent years working for the U. S. Navy and Commerce Department. In the mid 1930s, he retired to his Macon, Georgia birthplace and passed away there in 1948. During World War II, he was an inspector at the Naval Ordinance plant in Macon. There's family history on John Merton's parents and siblings at: http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~familiesacrosstime/families_lavarre.htm
More about John Merton's brother, writer and explorer William Johanne LaVarre, Jr. (1898-1991): http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~familiesacrosstime/wjl_whoswho.htm
The William LaVarre papers are housed at Stanford University: https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/4088917
More about John Merton's brother Franklin LaVarre (1904-1987). He worked for years with travel lecturer Burton Holmes, changed his name to "Andre de La Varre" and became a prolific creator of film travelogues and documentaries:
The Andre De La Varre Collection is housed at the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian: http://sova.si.edu/record/NMAH.AC.0782
The Internet Archive has the 42 minute "Crystals Go to War", a 1943 color documentary from the Army Signal Corps and produced by Andre de LaVarre: https://archive.org/details/6101_Crystals_Go_to_War_01_20_16_21
YouTube has dozens of Andre de la Varre travel films: https://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=7733BBB8B490BB70
Claude Andrew LaVarre was brother number three and was born November 7, 1911 in Staten Island, New York and was a representative of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, New York City. With Singer, he lived and traveled extensively in South and Central America. Ancestry.com had several ship and airline passenger logs. In 1937, he was traveling from Chile. And in 1961, he was traveling from Colombia and Peru.
Open items ... to be determined ...
No question that Merton was born in Washington state. Several relatives - and Merton himself - report his birth place as "Sidney village" in Kitsap County, Washington state and the family was located there in the 1900 census. But on his two marriage records, Merton reports his birth location as Seattle, Washington.
The middle name of Merton and son Lane Bradford is still confusing - it may be Vivian (with an A) or Vivien (with an E). On Merton's World War I draft registration, he reports his full name as Myrtland Vivien La Varre.