|Unkempt, rough and tough looking members of the gang, or lynch mob, or vigilantes, or posse riders, or cow herders. They had minimal or no dialog, not much screen time, and were generally not listed in the film credits. Some would show up as a face in the crowd, portraying townspeople, barflys, deputies, wagon drivers, ranch hands, etc. We tend to recognize some of their faces, but have no clue as to their real names.|
Full name: Earl Leslie Rengstorff Askam
1891 - 1940
appeared in at least 12 westerns and 4 serials, and his (brief) film career ran from about 1930 - 1940.
|To cliffhanger fans, Earl Askam's most remembered roles were as 'Officer Torch' in FLASH GORDON (Universal, 1936) and as 'Red' in THE HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS (Republic, 1938). He also did a few B westerns.
Earl was born in Seatle, Washington in 1891. His Hollywood career consisted of about 45 films and was secondary to his main profession - singing in traveling repertory companies, light opera, and extensive stage work with his brother, noted singer Perry Askam. A 1925 issue of Variety reported that Earl was a member of the New York Metropolitan Opera company. And he served during World War I as a second lieutenant and lieutenant in the Infantry.
Askam passed away on April 1, 1940 while playing a round of golf and his death was covered in the April 3, 1940 issue of Film Daily: "Earl Askam ... was stricken with a fatal heart attack while playing golf with Kermit Maynard. He was a brother of Perry Askam, concert star."
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Earl Askam and his brother Perry:
Above - Earl Askam as 'Officer Torch', one of Emperor Ming's minions, in the first FLASH GORDON serial from 1936.
|There are many articles on Askam in newspapers and trades. Below are a few highlights:
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), the California Death Index and the death certificate provide more info on Askam:
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website confirms that Earl Askam is interred at Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/52239861
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
John Wayne has his dukes on William Royle, and in the background, from L-to-R, are John Beach, Earl Askam and Olin Francis. From the Three Mesquiteers adventure, RED RIVER RANGE (Republic, 1938).
Full name: Olin Caldwell Francis
1891 - 1952
appeared in at least 37 westerns and 3 serials, and his film career ran from the early 1920s - early 1940s.
|Olin Caldwell Francis was born in 1891 in Mooreville, Mississippi. He was a World War I aviator and fighter pilot, and there are a few traces of his military career:
Olin's movie career began circa 1921 and he starred in a few silents before transitioning to character / heavy roles. However, his movie workload was near zero circa 1929 - 1930, and when the 1930 census was taken, his occupation was "Salesman - Life Insurance".
In talkies, he wound up in lesser, mostly uncredited roles portraying B film gang members, henchmen, barkeeps, and such. His meatiest B western performance occurred in TAKE ME BACK TO OKLAHOMA (Monogram, 1940), one of Tex Ritter's best Monograms. Francis plays "Mule Bates", a released convict who's hired by Karl Hackett to handle the reins in a stagecoach race ... as well as killing Tex. But he winds up going straight and assisting Ritter, sidekick 'Slim' Andrews and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.
His last film appearance was circa 1941 ... and then he disappears from the movie business. He identified himself as an actor in the 1940 census. However, the occupation on his 1952 death certificate was "Police Officer - Air Craft".
He passed away at Culver City Hospital, Culver City, Calfornia on June 30, 1952 from a heart attack and complications from heart disease and obesity. His passing was noted in the July 9, 1952 issue of Variety: "Olin Francis, 60, legit and screen actor for 40 years, died June 30 in Hollywood. He was a charter member of the Screen Actors Guild."
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Olin Francis: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0290274
The Air Force Association website lists Lieutenant Olin C. Francis as a World War I fighter pilot: http://secure.afa.org/afm/logbook/index_results_new.asp?last_name=f&Nav=2
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Margaret Herrick Library, Janus Barfoed Collection has a couple stills with Olin Francis in 1920s films: http://digitalcollections.oscars.org/cdm/search/collection/p15759coll17/searchterm/%22olin%20francis%22/field/all/mode/all/conn/and/order/subjea/ad/asc
The Family Search website (free), Fold3 military records, Newspapers.com, Newspaper Archive, California Death Index, and the death certificate provide more on Olin Francis and family:
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website confirms that Olin Francis is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/92201137
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are an unidentified player, Barney Beasley, an un-moustached Tom Smith (tall hat), and Ken Maynard 'rassling with Ed Brady in a still from GUN JUSTICE (Universal, 1933). The bartender is Olin Francis.
(Courtesy of Bart Romans)
From L-to-R are Curley Dresden (sans moustache), John Wayne and Olin Francis in a scene from PALS OF THE SADDLE (Republic, 1938), one of the Three Mesquiteers series.
Full name: Carl Fredrick Moehring
1896 or 1897 - 1968
appeared in at least 62 westerns and 2 serials, and his career in film and TV ran from about 1913 through the early 1960s.
Carl Fredrick "Kansas" Moehring wasn't from Kansas. He was born in St. Marys, Ohio in 1896. And he was in Hollywood circa 1913 as a rider and stunt man in westerns and action films. There are newspaper reports about a severe spinal injury that he suffered while working on a 1913 film at Universal.
The Lima (Ohio) Daily News from November 21, 1913 had a lengthy article on that injury and the possibility that Moehring would be paralized/disabled. The headline read "LIMA YOUTH SERIOUSLY HURT IN CALIFORNIA. CARL MOEHRING JUMPS FROM SADDLE ON BACK OF RUNAWAY BRONCHO". Following are a few excerpts from the article including a mention that his parents had moved from Ohio to Kansas (and perhaps that's when he picked up the "Kansas" moniker):
His parents were "Mrs. and Mrs. Henry J. Moehring, formerly of Lima and St. Marys ..." and "Carl Moehring ... (was) one of three Lima youths (that) ran away ... and started for the west. They went at first to Independence, Kan., where Carl's father was employed ..." and "Carl continued on to California where he secured employment with the Universal Film company."
He did recover from the spinal injury and continued stunting and riding.
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has Carl F. Moehring, nickname of "Kansas", interred at Mount Hope Cemetery, Independence, Montgomery County, Kansas: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/110645201
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Kansas Moehring: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0595415
(From Old Corral collection)
Standing from left to right in this still from FRONTIER OUTLAWS (PRC, 1944) are Kansas Moehring, Tex Cooper and Buster Crabbe. Sitting from left to right are Al 'Fuzzy' St. John, Marin Sais, and Frances Gladwin. Gladwin was the heroine in four of Buster's PRC oaters. Marin Sais (1890-1971) began her film career in silents. She was married to Jack Hoxie but they divorced in 1925 after about five years of marriage.