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.

Earl Dwire

Full name:
Earl Dean Dwire

1883 - 1940

Above left is Dwire with his grey hair and grey mustache persona.

In most of his westerns, his hair and 'stache were dyed black.

According to Bob Nareau, the author of several books on Bob Steele, Earl Dwire was a personal friend of Steele and his father, Robert North Bradbury ... and they would often go fishing and hunting together.

That close relationship carried over to the film business with Dwire working in 41 oaters helmed by Bradbury:

  • From 1932-1937, Dwire was in 21 Bob Steele sagebrushers ... and Bradbury directed 19.
  • From 1933-1937, Dwire appeared in 17 John Wayne westerns ... and 11 were directed by Bradbury.
  • From 1931-1937, Dwire had roles in 11 other Bradbury productions with Tex Ritter (5), Bill Cody (1), Johnny Mack Brown (2), Jack Randall (2), and Tom Keene (1).

Prior to Hollywood, Dwire acted - and even did some directing - in traveling repertory companies and stock theater. He was married at least twice - his first wife was named Ruth. In 1923, he married Elizabeth Alice Maddeaux in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (and 'Beth' was a stage actress).

Earl was pencil thin, and had a distinct and easily recognizable drone to his voice. In one film, he'd play a typical henchman, with dark hair and moustache ... and he even did roles as an Indian, Mexican bandido or French Canadian. Examples: in the John Wayne THE LAWLESS FRONTIER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), Dwire is the half Apache "Zanti", the killer of Wayne's parents; and in Wayne's northwoodsy adventure THE TRAIL BEYOND (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), Earl is a henchman with a (terrible) French Canadian accent.

In some sagebrushers - such as Steele's SUNDOWN SAUNDERS (A. W. Hackel/Supreme, 1935) and Wayne's PARADISE CANYON (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935) - he wears a suit, plays a lawman, and his hair and mustache are grey. In a few such as the Harry Carey Sr. GHOST TOWN (Commodore, 1936), Earl took out his teeth and played an old codger.

My favorite Dwire role: RIDERS OF DESTINY (Lone Star/Monogram, 1933) was John Wayne's first in a string of sixteen Lone Star oaters which were released through Monogram. The youthful Wayne plays an undercover lawman named "Singing Sandy", and Robert North Bradbury wrote the story and directed. Dwire is Forrest Taylor's gunslingin' henchman "Slip Morgan", and in the street shootout near the end of the film, Wayne plugs Earl through both wrists (and there's even lots of fake blood oozing from Dwire's wounds). (Bradbury used that "shoot-em through both wrists" gunfight a year earlier when he wrote and directed THE MAN FROM HELL'S EDGES (Sono-Art/World Wide, 1932). That one starred Bob Steele, and he plugs baddie Julian Rivero (as "Lobo") through both wrists during a saloon duel. And blood drips down Rivero's wrists.)

In Les Adams' Prolific Performers listing on the Old Corral, you'll find that Dwire has about 165 sound era credits, and of that number, 116 were B westerns and 6 were serials. Pretty hefty numbers considering most all of these roles occurred in the 1930s. His work at Republic consisted of about two dozen films during the period 1935 - 1939. And about half were the A. W. Hackel/Supreme westerns which were released by Republic Pictures during its first couple of years in existence.

One of the most recognized bad guys of the 1930s, Dwire passed away on January 16, 1940 at the Los Angeles Veterans Hospital. Prior to that hospital stay, he lived at the Military Veterans Home in Los Angeles.

Spelling errors were fairly common in the opening or closing credits in the ol' B western. Occasionally, Earl Dwire's first or last name got mangled.

On the left is the cast list / opening title credits from the Rin-Tin-Tin Jr. adventure, CARYL OF THE MOUNTAINS (Reliable, 1936) ... with Earl as "Dwyer".

In a few other films, Earl was "Earle".

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

You can view/download a bunch of public domain films with Dwire from:
Internet Archive:

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), the California Death Records database, Internet Broadway Database, newspapers, and other sources have information on Earl Dwire and family:

  • World War I draft registration: 34 year old Earl Dean Dwire registered with the draft board in Chicago, Illinois on September 12, 1918. He was born October 3, 1883, occupation is "actor", and employer is "Oliver Morosco, New York, NY". Earl is living at 130 N. Dearborn Street in Chicago, but reports his nearest relative is wife Ruth Dwire, 201 W. 38th Street, New York, NY:
    The Internet Broadway Database has more on director, producer, writer, and lyricist Oliver Morosco (1876-1945):
  • Family Search has two 1923 marriage records of Earl Dean Dwire to Elizabeth Alice Maddeaux in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Earl's parents are listed as Dumont Dwire and Alice Sparkes:
    April 24, 1923:
    April 25, 1923:
  • 1930 census for 47 year old Earl D. Dwire (born Missouri), 30 year old wife Elizabeth (born England), and a roomer are among several families renting at 5427 Marathon Street, Los Angeles. Both list their occupations as "Actor and Actress - Leg Stage" (abbreviation for Legitimate Stage). And both Earl and Elizabeth identify themselves as WW1 veterans. The roomer living with them is 28 year old Walter Vaughan (born New York) and his occupation is "Actor - Motion Pictures".:
  • Death certificate: 56 year old Earl D. Dwire was born October 3, 1883 in Rockport, Missouri; parents were Dumont Dwire and Alice Sparks; he was divorced and wife's name was Beth; occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures"; and home address was 616 1/2 North Plymouth Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. He passed away on January 16, 1940 at the National Military Home, Veteran Administration Facility. Had surgery on December 29, 1939 for gastric issues. Cause of death was gastric ulcer, obstruction, perforated, and peritonitis. Informant was Records of Veterans Administration Facility, and Funeral Director was Veterans Administration.
  • The January 16, 1940 issue of the Oxnard (California) Daily Courier had an article on Dwire's passing. Excerpts: "Earl D. Dwire ... passed away at the Veterans hospital in Sawtelle this morning at 6 o'clock. Mr. Dwire had been ill for six weeks, and died following an operation on his stomach, paralysis setting in. ... survived by his wife, his brother, Carl, and two nephews, Carl Jr. and Scott Dwire. Funeral services ... at the Veterans' chapel in Sawtelle."
    (From Wikipedia: "The name 'Sawtelle' has also been used to refer only to the Veterans Administration complex, including the modern hospital (West Los Angeles Medical Center) and north of Wilshire Boulevard, the former site of the historical Sawtelle Veterans Home and outbuildings.")
  • California Death Index for Earl D. Dwire mirrors the death certificate - he was born 10/3/1883 in Missouri, Mother's maiden name was Sparks, and he passed away in the Los Angeles area on 1/16/1940:
  • 1940 application for a headstone for military veteran Earl D. Dwire, with notations that he was a Corporal and his enlistment was brief, running from November, 1918 - January, 1919. Could not determine his branch of service. The application is at:
  • Appears he was U. S. Army, but not a Corporal. There is a record for Army Private Earl D. Dwire at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veteran's Gravesite locator:
    DATE OF DEATH: 01/16/1940

Find A Grave website has a photo of the military headstone for Earl D. Dwire who is interred at Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California. The headstone has Dwire's military unit as the 343rd Battalion, Tank Corps:

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Index, and issues of the Variety and Clipper tradepapers on the Internet Archive have a few tidbits on the Dwire Family. Appears that Earl had at least one brother and one sister, and his father was a doctor. If the 1890 census was available, we'd probably learn more about the Dwire family, but that census was lost in a 1921 fire (and water damage) at the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.:

  • Sister: there was a March 6, 1912 Downey, California marriage license of 18 year old Gail Crystal Dwire (born about 1894 in Oregon) to William James Coke. Her parents are Dumont Dwire and Katharine Hayner/Haynes. Her father is Dr. D. Dwire:
  • Brother: the World War II draft registration for Arthur Carl Dwire has 1886 and Hebron, Nebraska as his birth date and location; his employer is the County of Ventura, California; and he's living in Oxnard, Ventura County, California. According to the California Death Index, he passed away in 1950 and his mother's maiden name was Sparks.
    Ancestry had a newspaper blurb on Earl and Arthur Carl Dwire in the August 8, 1918 edition of the Oxnard, California Daily Courier. Quote: "Earl D. Dwire, stage manager and director for the Lombardi Ltd. company, visited with his brother, A. Carl Dwire, last night and today and returned to Los Angeles in time for this evening's performance."
    (Lombardi, Ltd. was a Broadway comedy that originally opened at the Morosco Theater in New York in 1917 with Leo Carillo starring as "Lombardi". The show was taken on the road and played Los Angeles during the Summer, 1918 followed by a run in Chicago in August-September, 1918. It was made into a film in 1919 with Bert Lytell in the lead. According to his World War I draft registration, Dwire's home was New York City in 1918. However, based on this newspaper article and the draft registration, it appears that Dwire traveled with the play to California and then to Chicago.)

It's always interesting to click through newspaper headlines and clippings at the Google newspaper archives. The following links will take you to free articles on Earl Dwire's stage career:

Earl Dwire - with dark hair and a dark mustache.

(Courtesy of Sam Lawson)

L-to-R are Jack Kirk, Sherry Tansey, and Earl Dwire in Johnny Mack Brown's BETWEEN MEN (Supreme, 1935). This is a solid oater with a strong plot, and Earl Dwire is boss of a rustling gang. Henchmen working for him are Jack Kirk and Sherry Tansey.

(From Old Corral collection)

There's four unidentified players seated and standing on the left. Then there's Bill Cody (red shirt), Earl Dwire (behind Cody), Gilbert Pratt (lawman) and William L. Thorne (seated at table, wearing suit). Lobby card and crop/blowup from Cody's LAW OF THE NORTH (Monogram, 1932).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Fred Kohler, Jr., Ed Cassidy (minus his usual moustache) and Dwire in THE PECOS KID (Commodore, 1935), one of two starring oaters for Kohler Jr. In PECOS, Earl was billed as "Dwyer". Fred Kohler, Jr. was the real life son of movie bad guy Fred Kohler, Sr. He drifted into playing baddies - just like his father - and was in many of the later Roy Rogers films.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - a young John Wayne has collared a young and thin Eddie Parker, and on horseback, Yakima Canutt has Earl Dwire under wraps. This re-release lobby card is from THE STAR PACKER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), one of eleven 1930s Wayne westerns directed by Bob Steele's father, Robert North Bradbury.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

L-to-R are Sonny Chorre, William Gould, Jack Perrin, Charles 'Slim' Whitaker, and Earl Dwire (as 'Red Wolf') in Perrin's WOLF RIDERS (Reliable, 1935). Gould is the boss of some fur thieves.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Tex Ritter has the drop on Earl Dwire in a lobby card from HITTIN' THE TRAIL (Grand National, 1937), which was helmed by Bob Steele's father, Robert North Bradbury.

(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Above from L-to-R are Earl Dwire, Steve Clark, Tom Keene, Oscar Gahan, Charles B. Murphy (wearing the badge) and Denver Dixon (Victor Adamson) in a scene from Keene's ROMANCE OF THE ROCKIES (Monogram, 1937), another oater helmed by Robert North Bradbury.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above, Bob Steele has the drop on Earl Dwire in this blue duotone 1950 re-release lobby card from THE GUN RANGER (A. W. Hackel/Republic, 1937), one of the A. W. Hackel produced Supreme westerns which were released by Republic Pictures. Robert North Bradbury directed.

Earl Dwire - with grey hair and a grey mustache.

(Courtesy of Dorothy Hack)

Above from left to right are lawman Earl Dwire (standing), Gordon Clifford, Perry Murdock, John Wayne, Herman Hack (as a Deputy) and Reed Howes in a scene from PARADISE CANYON (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - Earl Dwire is given an assist by Harry Carey Sr. in GHOST TOWN (Ajax, 1936), one of the half-dozen B grade oaters Carey did for Ajax and Commodore in the mid 1930s. Dwire portrayed a toothless old codger and miner who gets ambushed by no-goods Lee Shumway, Chuck Morrison and Roger Williams. Carey saves Dwire's life ... and his stack of greenbacks.

(Courtesy of Carol Murray and her "Jack Hendricks Photo Album")

From left to right are Robert Walker, Earl Dwire, Roger Williams and Richard Talmadge with the wounded Jack Hendricks. Scene from STEP ON IT (Reliable, 1936). In this, Dwire was the father of heroine Lois Wilde.

Back to prior page