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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)
John Elliott
Full name:
John Hugh Elliott
1876 - 1956

Elliott - 1935 and about 60 years old.

Above - ad for the short-lived Elliott / Snowden drama school from the September 19, 1921 issue of the Seattle, Washington Star newspaper available at the Library of Congress historic newspaper collection.
Iowa born John Hugh Elliott had a screen career that spanned about 35 years - his film credits began around 1920 in silents and continue through the mid 1950s. He learned his trade in traveling repertory companies and stock theater. There are early traces of Elliott in trades and newspapers and following are a few highlights and timelines:

The stock market crash and Depression negatively impacted stock theater and vaudeville, and by the late 1920s, Elliott was fifty+ years old and concentrated on a motion picture career.

Les Adams has him identified in about 250 sound films, and that includes 121 westerns and 14 cliffhangers.

In B westerns, he portrayed a baddie on a few occasions - for example, he was one of the gang members in Tom Tyler's PHANTOM OF THE RANGE (Victory, 1936). But he most often played the mild mannered - or agitated - father of the hero or heroine ... as well as a judge, ranch owner, storekeeper, owner of the local newspaper, etc. If a kind, old face was needed in a western, they employed Elliott - or Lafe McKee, Frank LaRue or Steve Clark. And kindly oldtimers in nice guy roles were frequently killed off in the early reels. That happened to Elliott ... a lot.

His dialog delivery was clear and concise due to years of stage experience ... though I often felt that he was a tad soft spoken and monotone.

He shows up often in 1930s oaters with Tom Tyler and Bob Steele and in the 1940s in various series at Monogram and Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). Statistics on his western appearances are in the chart further down this webpage.

As to directors and producers, Elliott did about two dozen westerns and other features helmed by prolific Sam Newfield and many were PRC westerns. Producer Sam Katzman used him in about eighteen features and serials scattered over the years 1935-1956. And the brothers Max and Art Alexander - together and individually - utilized Elliott in over a dozen films including sagebrush adventures with 'Big Boy' Williams, Rex Bell, Ken Maynard, and PRC's Texas Rangers.

Elliott's work load declined significantly in the post World War II years, probably due to his advanced age as well as the decline in the B western and serial. Among his final movie jobs were credited roles as Rex Allen's father in Rex's first starrer THE ARIZONA COWBOY (Republic, 1950) and playing a no-good trading post owner in one of the last serials, PERILS OF THE WILDERNESS (Columbia, 1956).

In the mid 1930s, he took up residence at the St. Moritz Hotel in Los Angeles. 80 year old John Hugh Elliott passed away at the hotel on December 12, 1956 from heart problems. His remains were given to the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy.

Got an e-mail from Dan Bates in July, 2001 about his chance meeting with John Elliott around 1954. Dan writes:

"I must have encountered this very familiar face from B-Westerns just before his death. Circa 1954, my parents and I were tourists visiting Hollywood, and we stayed in a motel on Hollywood Boulevard, several blocks down the street from the Pantages. We took to having breakfast every morning in a corner restaurant - nothing fancy, as I recall - and, one morning, my late father spotted Elliott sitting at the counter, and urged me into asking the old actor for his autograph. I quickly mustered some sufficient courage - I was, after all, only 16 years old - and did so. (I have long since misplaced that autograph, it saddens me to report.) The next day, our regular waitress told us that Elliott was absolutely thrilled that a youth of my age actually knew who he was."

Most of John Elliott's B westerns were with these heroes:
Bob Steele12
Tom Tyler12
Rex Bell7
Republic Pictures with Don Barry (2), Rex Allen (1), Roy Rogers (1), Three Mesquiteers (3; two with John Wayne)7
Monogram's Range Busters trio series6
Tim McCoy6
Lone Rider series at PRC starring Bob Livingston (4) and George Houston (2)6
Buster Crabbe Billy the Kid/Billy Carson series at PRC5
Tim Holt5
Ken Maynard5
Bill Cody5
William Boyd / Hopalong Cassidy4
PRC Trios: Texas Rangers (2) and Frontier Marshal (2)4
Fred Scott4
Hoot Gibson3
Bob Custer3
Buck Jones3
Tex Ritter solo starring films (2 at Universal and 1 at Grand National)3
Johnny Mack Brown and Tex Ritter series at Universal2
Lash Larue2
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams2
Single film appearances with many cowboy heroesSee notes below.

Who didn't he work with?
Elliott didn't appear in any westerns with Gene Autry, Wild Bill Elliott, Allan Lane, George O'Brien, Tom Keene, Eddie Dean, Whip Wilson, Monte Hale, Smith Ballew, Sunset Carson or Monogram's Rough Riders or Trail Blazers. Nor was he in John Wayne westerns at Warners or mid 1930s Lone Star/Monograms or Wayne's early Republic series.

He did single films with various heroes - one each with Charles Starrett, Roy Rogers, Rex Allen, Jimmy Wakely, Jack Randall, Kermit Maynard, Harry Carey Sr., Bob Allen, a few others.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on John Elliott. The IMDb biography was written by Elliott's great-great granddaughter. He was born in Keosauqua, Iowa; lost his mother Sarah and sister Fanny in a 1897 bout with typhoid; and in 1899, he and first wife Cleo had twins (named Donald and Dorothy):

The Internet Broadway Database has John H. Elliott in the 1917-1918 New York run of "Eyes of Youth":

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), newspapers, California Death Index and the death certificate provide more on John Elliott and family. He was married three (or four) times. Marriage one and two were to Cleo Myrtle Kelley and stage actress Edith T. Fassett.

Some confusion with his last wife ... or wives. There is a Jane Faulkner as well as Jane C. Hinckley. Elliott's biography in the 1931, 1932, and 1937-1938 editions of the Motion Picture Almanac list his spouse as Jane Faulkner, non-professional (meaning not in the acting business). But there is a 1925 marriage announcement to Jane C. Hinckley as well as obituaries from 1937 for wife Jane C. Elliott. Unsure if these "Janes" are the same or separate individuals.

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Lobby card from OKLAHOMA JIM (Monogram, 1931). From left to right are Earl Dwire (Sergeant stripes), Franklyn Farnum, Bill Cody, William Desmond, Iron Eyes Cody (white headdress with the orange/red tipped feathers), Chief White Eagle (blue jacket), Andy Shuford, John Elliott (green jacket) and Bill Hazlett / Chief Many Treaties with the headdress with feathers marked in blue. This mediocre Bill Cody western has Desmond as the main heavy. Crop/blowups below with closer view of the faces.

Earl Dwire, Franklyn Farnum, Bill Cody and William Desmond.

Iron Eyes Cody, Chief White Eagle, Andy Shuford, John Elliott and Bill Hazlett / Chief Many Treaties.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are John Elliott, Bill Cody and Hank Bell looking over Iron Eyes Cody. In the right background are Sheila Mannors and Andy Shuford. From Cody's TEXAS PIONEERS (Monogram, 1932).

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

Above from L-to-R are Vane Calvert, Bob Custer, Victoria Vinton, Eddie Phillips, John Elliott and Wally Wales/Hal Taliaferro in a lobby card from Custer's AMBUSH VALLEY (Reliable, 1936).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Eddie Phillips, Denver Dixon (aka Victor Adamson), Bob Custer, John Elliott and Jack Evans taking a left to the jaw in a scene from Custer's AMBUSH VALLEY (Reliable, 1936).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Walter Miller, Ken Maynard, Beth Marion and John Elliott in Maynard's THE FUGITIVE SHERIFF (Larry Darmour/Columbia, 1936).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Rin-Tin-Tin Jr., Victoria Vinton, Bob Custer, John Elliott - and prone on the floor is Wally West - in a still from Custer's VENGEANCE OF RANNAH (Reliable, 1936).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Joan Barclay (billed as Geraine Greear), Art Felix, Tom Tyler, Buck Morgan, Francis Walker, Jack Evans (moustache), John Elliott, unidentified bearded player, and on the ground is Roger Williams.  Scene from Tyler's RIDIN' ON (Reliable, 1936).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from left to right are Max Terhune, John Elliott, John King, Sheila Darcy and Ray Corrigan in a scene from TUMBLEDOWN RANCH IN ARIZONA (Monogram, 1941). Darcy was "Volita" the female lead in the serial ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION (Republic, 1939) and she portrayed the "Dragon Lady" in the TERRY AND THE PIRATES (Columbia, 1940) cliffhanger. She married movie actor Preston Foster in 1946 and they were together until his death in 1970.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - a lobby card from TUMBLEDOWN RANCH IN ARIZONA (Monogram, 1941) showing John Elliott, John King, Sheila Darcy and Ray Corrigan. Appears that King isn't happy with Corrigan's interest in Sheila.

Here's a mystery for you - there's a bunch of these type lobby cards in circulation. But there is no Monogram brand name or logo. They have a common layout showing Corrigan and his twin six-shooters on the left side, and the only variation is the colors that are used (black plus a couple other colors). An approximate 6 1/2 inch x 8 1/2 inch scene still is glued on the card stock. Les Adams recalled that a company in Oklahoma circa 1935-1942 made up their own posters and cards and rented/leased them to theatres cheaper than the exhibitors could get them from National Screen Service or the company exchanges.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Left to right are Lee Powell, John Elliott and Karl Hackett in the Frontier Marshal trio adventure, ROLLING DOWN THE GREAT DIVIDE (PRC, 1942). Elliott was about 65 years old when he did this oater.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above is the title lobby card to BORDER ROUNDUP (PRC, 1942), one of PRC's Lone Rider adventures starring tall and melodious George Houston. On the left is Houston with the drop on I. Stanford Jolley. On the right is heroine Patricia Knox assisting injured John Elliott who portrayed her father.

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