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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.

(Image courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Ethan Laidlaw

Full name:
Ethan Allen Laidlaw

1899 - 1963

Left - Laidlaw with his normal mustache and beard stubble.

Ethan Allen Laidlaw hailed from Butte, Montana. When he registered for the World War I draft in 1918, he was working for the Burroughs Adding Machine Company in Butte. And in the 1940 census, he reported three years of college attendance.

How and why he wound up in Hollywoodland is a mystery. His movie career began in the mid 1920s, and he did silent westerns with Tom Mix, Bob Custer, Tom Tyler, Buzz Barton and many others. In sound films, Laidlaw was a busy guy in westerns and other movies. He was rarely credited and he seemed to find a niche portraying criminals, gang members and B western henchmen.

He had 400+ films and TV appearances during a lengthy career that ran from about 1923-1963. Les Adams has Laidlaw working in about 300 sound films, of which 134 are westerns and 16 are serials. His work for Republic Pictures amounts to about two dozen films during the period from 1937-1947, and that number includes one serial and 18 westerns.

As with many other B western movie performers, Laidlaw made the transition to television, and he shows up in THE RIFLEMAN, HAVE GUN - WILL TRAVEL, lots more ... including several dozen episodes of the Hugh O'Brian THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP.

I didn't recall seeing Laidlaw without his usual mustache (and sometimes with some whisker stubble). But I recently spotted him without his 'stache and clean shaven in "The Buntline Special", an episode from season 5 of the THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP.

He passed away on May 25, 1963 from a heart attack/coronary blockage at the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital.

At the Find A Grave website link below, the marker for Laidlaw shows him as a World War II veteran in the U. S. Navy reserve. He may have served reserve time in California, but doubtful that he was on overseas duty due to his age and the quantity of his film roles during the World War II years. The information might be incorrect and Laidlaw may have done Navy duty during or after World War I. But for the 1930 census, he answered "No" to the are you a military veteran question. Based on census and death certificate information, it appears that Laidlaw was married three times.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Ethan Laidlaw:

Boyd Magers has a biography of Ethan Laidlaw on his Western Clippings website:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the marker for Ethan A. Laidlaw at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California:
Appears that his first wife Mildred passed away on March 25, 1947, and she is also interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California:

Laidlaw did appear in about a half dozen of the Three Stooges comedies:

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is a copy of a lobby card from FUGITIVE FROM SONORA (Republic, 1943) showing Lynn Merrick, star Don Barry and baddie Ethan Laidlaw.

The Family Search website (free),, ProQuest obituaries, California Death Records database, and the death certificate provide more information on Ethan Laidlaw and family:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above are Ethan Laidlaw and Jack Perrin in a lobby card for RAINBOW RIDERS (Reliable, 1934), one of the Bud 'n' Ben featurettes/shorts which co-starred rotund Benny Corbett (photo inset, upper left). Standing between Laidlaw and Perrin is Mack V. Wright. In addition to some acting jobs, Wright spent time behind the camera as the director of oaters such as the Three Mesquiteers' ROARIN' LEAD and RIDERS OF THE WHISTLING SKULL, and was co-director/assistant director/second unit director on THE VIGILANTES ARE COMING and THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF WILD BILL HICKOK serials, several of the Rough Riders films, and more.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are bartender Ethan Laidlaw, Charles Starrett, Forbes Murray, Edward LeSaint, Edmund Cobb and Edward Peil in Starrett's SPOILERS OF THE RANGE (Columbia, 1939).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is a 1953 re-release lobby card from the Three Mesquiteers THE NIGHT RIDERS (Republic, 1939). From left to right are Max Terhune, Ray Corrigan, John Wayne, Kermit Maynard, Ethan Laidlaw (kneeling), and grounded on the far right is Tom Tyler. Crop/blowup below showing Kermit Maynard, Ethan Laidlaw and Tom Tyler.

(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)

Above is a still from the Don Barry THE TULSA KID (Republic, 1940). From left to right are Matty Roubert, Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, Luana Walters, Ethan Laidlaw, George Douglas, Noah Beery Sr., John Beach and Jack Kirk.

(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Above from L-to-R are Charles Soldani (AKA Chief Soldani), Emile Avery and Ethan Laidlaw in a scene from the Charles Starrett oater, HORSEMEN OF THE SIERRAS (Columbia, 1949).

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