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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.

Above and below - Roger Williams in the 1930s, with and without a moustache.


Above - 1920 passport photo with signature of Roger Grimes Williams.

Roger Williams

Full name: Roger Grimes Williams

1898 - 1964

To anyone who responds to our "what happened to Roger Williams", please read this. Many of us have done extensive searching through the California Death Records database and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) - so please don't suggest these as sources. And please don't suggest the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) as the description there was authored prior to new info becoming available. We have also checked various other sources such as: the Colorado School of Mines, Los Angeles area newspaper archives and obits, some online cemetery records, some census records, some trade publications from the late 1930s (such as the 1934-35 Motion Picture Almanac, the 1936 Film Daily, etc.). Also checked with Republic expert Jack Mathis since Williams did some work at that production company. Hopefully, a Williams family member may contact us ... or an Old Corral visitor may have obscure or surprise information that will solve the "whatever happened to Roger Williams" question.

Les Adams' trusty database has Williams in 112 sound era films - 85 westerns, 13 cliffhangers, and 14 other/non-western features.

In the Williams filmography on the next webpage, note that his career was brief, with all of these films being released during the period from 1933 - 1939. Williams appeared in 13 productions at Republic Pictures during 1937 - 1939, and these consisted of six Three Mesquiteers' adventures, one Roy Rogers, two Gene Autrys, three serials, and a non-western feature starring Grant Withers. One of his last films - and final Republic payday - was in Gene Autry's MOUNTAIN RHYTHM (Republic, 1939), and in this, Williams portrays a nice guy rancher.

Williams' primary work was not at Republic or Universal or Columbia - his usual employers were the Poverty Row production companies of the 1930s that were churning out sagebrushers starring Tim McCoy, Ken Maynard, Fred Scott, Tom Tyler, Jack Perrin, Kermit Maynard, Harry Carey, Rex Bell, Rex Lease and Reb Russell.

What happened to Roger Williams? Did he exit Hollywood or was he injured, ill or did he pass away around 1939? Keep reading.

Roger Williams
Tidbits and Hollywood Confusion ...

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is an ad for Williams from a 1936 trade publication. Note the Lafayette 6242 telephone number. We've been unable to find an ad for Williams in later trade publications.

Jack Tillmany had Standard Casting Directories for 1933, 1936 and 1937. Roger Williams is listed in the Actors Telephone List of the June-July 1933 edition: GRanite 3111.

(From the Kermit Maynard SONG OF THE TRAIL pressbook, courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a bio on Williams from the pressbook to the Kermit Maynard SONG OF THE TRAIL (Ambassador-Conn, 1936). In that film, Williams was a member of the gang which was bossed by Wheeler Oakman. If the above is correct - and Williams had earned college degrees and was in Hollywood in 1915, then his birth year would be around 1890 or so.

Jack Tillmany e-mailed about an error in the above bio mention of the film THE WHITE FATHER and directed by Rupert Julian. There was a two-reeler titled A WHITE FEATHER VOLUNTEER (Universal, 1915) which was directed by Rupert Julian.

Note the mention of Williams having four children, his hobby was farming, and he loved to fish and hunt.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a 1934-35 trade paper bio on a Roger Williams who was born in Germany and also attended the School of Mines in Denver. Conjecture is that this Roger Williams is a technical/production person - not our Roger Williams, the B western actor. As to the biography similarities, that may be just some confusion with the person who authored the above and mixed the bios and background of the two Roger Williams' together. Incorrect and inflated biographies were not uncommon.

(From the Sunset pressbook for HEROES OF THE ALAMO, courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a blurb from the pressbook to HEROES OF THE ALAMO (1937). Originally released by Anthony J. Xydias as a Sunset Productions, Inc. film, Columbia Pictures purchased it in 1938 and sent it back out as one of their own. Williams' role was Alamo defender Jim Bowie, and the biographical info is the same as the above SONG OF THE TRAIL pressbook info from a year earlier.

In the pressbook biographies above, there's mention of Williams attending and graduating from the Colorado School of Mines (their website is In mid August, 2004, I connected with Janet Blair of their Alumni Association and we exchanged several e-mails on the elusive Mr. Williams. I asked Janet about a "Roger Williams" as well as any Williams that had a middle name/initial of "Roger" or "R". Result of her search: no Roger Williams. Excerpts/quotes from her e-mails follow:

  • "We do not find a record of Roger Williams in our database. We have everyone who ever graduated from the School of Mines in our database."
  • "I did go through all of the Williams in our database (179 of them) and I check all the middle initial "R" ones, and I'm sorry to say, no Roger."
  • "It is also possible that Mr. Williams attended the School of Mines but did not graduate. We only have information for those students who finished their degrees."

The last film work that Les Adams has for Williams is with Harry Webb's Metropolitan Pictures company in 1939. Les adds:

"Harry S. Webb made two Rin-Tin-Tin films films back-to-back in the San Bernardino Mountains in 1939 with virtually the same cast on both: FANGS OF THE WILD and LAW OF THE WOLF. Some sources think they are the same film, but they aren't. I have tapes of both films. Dennis Moore and Luana Walters star in both, and the two casts are virtually identical, with a couple of exceptions. A main exception is Roger Williams, who is in LAW OF THE WOLF but not in FANGS OF THE WILD. My guess is that Roger Williams, the actor, died on location while working on these two films."

  The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Roger Williams (but the biography is wrong):

Roger Grimes Williams (1898 - 1964)
This looks like our guy!

Above - photo and signature of Roger Grimes Williams from his 1920 passport. That certainly looks like our B western and serial Roger Williams ... including the cleft on his chin and the high forehead.

(Image courtesy of Jack Tillmany)

Above - a production still of Roger Williams circa 1937. Blowup/crop of this image shown below.

Lila Ashear did some sleuthing and was able to locate census information as well as Williams' draft registration and a 1920 passport (which includes the passport photo/signature shown on the left). Lila writes:

The Roger Williams we seek was born in Denver to Charles H. Williams. Given that I wasn't having much luck in searching on Roger, I determined to go after Charles H. Williams and found him in the 1900 Colorado Census with his family; including his son Roger G aged 2. His birth is recorded as February 1896. His mother's name is listed as Evangelina and she was born in Pennsylvania. There is also a brother Charles Ed, aged 1/12 (born May 1900).

Given that information, I searched and found the family in 1910 located on North Hicks street in Los Angeles. We have again Charles H, Eva, Rodger (sic), Charles E., and now added Thomas L, Violet E., Albert L, and Harmon M. Note, they are living in California in 1910, Roger is only 12, and he wouldn't have had the ability to graduate from Denver North or the school of mining.

The 1920 Census finds Evangelina as Head Of Household but still listed as "M" (married). Roger is living with his mother, age 21 but listed as "D", divorced. His occupation is listed as "general utility"; I have no idea what that is. The other children remain with the family but a new daughter, Frances M, aged 9, is now in the household.

I cannot locate Charles H., Evangelina, or Roger in the 1930 census.

World War I Registration has Roger G. Williams born February 8, 1893 in Denver, Colorado. This was either intentional to make him older or is a just an error since the three census records would tend to prove this incorrect. His occupation is listed as "paper maker". He is listed as a Private in the Field Artillery, Battery A, California. The document is signed as of June 5, 1917.

The passport info lists his father as being Charles H. Williams living on West 38th Avenue in Los Angeles, California, but lists Roger's permanent residence as Denver, Colorado (odd). This document lists his birth date as 8 February 1898. He was intending to go through Nogales, Arizona into Mexico on October 1, 1920 and be back within 6 months.

The California Death Index lists the following:
Roger G. Williams
Mother's maiden name: Lloyd
Birth Date: 8 February 1898
Birth place: Colorado
Date of Death: 18 December 1964
Death Place: Los Angeles

I have been unable to locate an obituary or marriage record or birth record for children.

Lila Ashear
September, 2009

Lila was kind enough to provide the passport registration/photo page along with the draft registration (both in jpg image format). If anyone would like copies, shoot the Old Corral webmeister an e-mail.

The passport has a tie-in with Roger Grimes Williams and Denver, Colorado. On the page with the photo is an identification section. Swearing that he knew Roger Grimes Williams for 22 years and that Williams was a US Citizen was one William E. Lloyd who is listed as a grocer at 712 Pearl Street, Denver, Colorado. Also on the page is a Description of Applicant which notes that Williams was 5' 11" tall, has a cleft in his chin and a small scar on his left cheek.

The photo left is a blowup/crop of the production still. See if you can spot a scar on his left cheek.

But there's still a mystery to solve. What happened to our movie baddie circa late 1930s to cause him to stop making films. And what occurs during the remaining years of his life including marriage, children, work, etc. Inquiring minds want to know.

More on Roger Grimes Williams
The Family Search website (free), (subscription), Social Security Death Index (SSDI), and California Death Records database have info on Williams. I've highlighted some common threads in this information: his parents, Charles H. Williams and Eva/Evangeline are in this color. Eva/Evangeline's maiden name was Lloyd, and is shown in this color:

  • 1900 census: 35 year old Charles H. Williams (born New York), his 24 year old wife Evangeline (born Pennsylvania), 2 year old son Roger G. (born Colorado) and new born son Charles Ed (born Colorado) are living in Denver, Colorado:
    1900 census takers worksheet: the family lives at 437 29th Street, Denver, Colorado, and father Charles H. Williams' occupation is "paper hanger"
  • 1910 census: 42 year old Charles H. Williams (born New York), his 30 year old wife Eva (born Pennsylvania), 12 year old son Rodger [sic] W. (born Colorado), 9 year old son Charles E. (born Colorado), and three sons and one daughter are living in Belvedere Township, Los Angeles County, California:
  • June 3, 1916 marriage license of 23 year old Roger Grimes Williams (born England; occupation "Motion Picture Actor") to 18 year old Vera Paloma Bennett (born Utah). His parents are Charles Williams and Evangeline Lloyd. This is the first marriage for both:
  • World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917: 24 year old Roger Grimes Williams was born February 8, 1893 in Denver, Colorado. He is single; is a "Paper Maker" with the South Board Paper Co, Vernon, California; lives at 129 So Griffin Ave, Los Angeles; and reports one year of prior military service as a Private - Field Artillery, Battery A, California Artillery:
  • A September, 1919 issue of Variety carried some divorce news: "Los Angeles, Sept. 24 (1919). Lieut. Roger G. Williams has sued his wife, Vera Paloma Williams, known in pictures as Vera Bennett, for divorce. He says that his wife started flirting with other men immediately after they were married. They lived together only twenty-two days."
  • 1920 census: 77 year old William E. Lloyd (born Pennsylvania), his wife Elizabeth and three children are living in Denver, Colorado:
    Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet on William E. Lloyd which confirms that he is the man that vouched for Roger Grimes Williams in his 1920 passport application. 77 year old William E. Lloyd (born Pennsylvania), his wife Elizabeth and three children live at 712 South Pearl Street, Denver, Colorado. Lloyd's occupation is "Storekeeper - Grocery Store". (Based on his age, I'm guessing William E. Lloyd is Evangeline/Eva Lloyd's father.)
  • 1920 census (which was taken January 5, 1920): residing in the Los Angeles area are 43 year old Evangeline Williams (born Pennsylvania), and she is the head of household (husband Charles H. Williams is not present). Other family members include 21 year old son Roger G. (born Colorado; divorced), 19 year old son Charles E. (born Colorado), five sons and daughters, and three boarders:
    Ancestry had the 1920 census takers worksheet: the family is renting at 403 Isabel Street, Los Angeles, and Roger reports his occupation as "General utility - Iron works".
  • February 7, 1920 Salt Lake City, Utah marriage to Ruby B. Noe (born 1901 in Tennessee). Williams' parents are Charles H. Williams and Eva Lloyd Williams which match the census information:
  • October 25, 1920 passport application and photo of Roger Grimes Williams. He was born February 8, 1898 in Denver, Colorado; currently lives in Los Angeles; and he's heading to Mexico for business and his occupation is "Ox Welder":
  • Ancestry had the 1928 Los Angeles County voter registration: Williams, Roger G, 4442 Prospect Av, actr (abbreviation for actor)
  • 1930 census: living in Los Angeles are 31 year old Roger Williams (born Colorado), his 33 year old wife Ellen (born Pennsylvania). 9 year old daughter Juanita (born California) and 1 year old daughter Delores (born California):
    Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet and Roger's occupation is "Designer - Ornamental Iron".
  • Ancestry had the 1933 Los Angeles City Directory and R. Williams, occupation "actor", is living at 208 S. Hill, Los Angeles. No wife is listed. Below is a crop from that City Directory:
  • Ancestry had the 1936 Los Angeles County voter registration: Williams, Roger G, 5645 Gotham st, actor
  • 1940 census: living in Los Angeles are 42 year old Roger G. Williams (born Colorado), 46 year old wife Ellen (born Pennsylvania), 19 year old daughter Waneta [sic] (born California), 11 year old daughter Delores (born California), 9 year old son Roger L. (born California), and 8 year old son Arthur F. (born California):
    1940 census takers worksheet: the Williams family owns their home at 6157 Morello, Los Angeles. Roger G. Williams reports he completed four years of college and his occupation is "Engineer - Douglas Aircraft":
  • California Death Index has a record for: Roger G. Williams, born February 8, 1898 in Colorado, mother's maiden name of Lloyd, and he passed away in Los Angeles on December 18, 1964:
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has a record for Roger Williams, born February 8, 1898, passed away in December, 1964, and his last residence was Paramount, Los Angeles County, California:
  • Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has an image of the marker for Roger G. Williams (1898-1964) and his wife Ellen C. Williams (1893-1969) who are interred at Westminster Memorial Park, Westminster, Orange County, California:

(From the Kermit Maynard SONG OF THE TRAIL pressbook, courtesy of Les Adams)

This pressbook biography from the Kermit Maynard starrer SONG OF THE TRAIL (Ambassador-Conn, 1936) notes that Williams has four children, which is in synch with the above 1940 census.

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