|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)
Pierre Frank Watkin
Sometimes referred to as:
(plural last name)
1887 - 1960
Pierre Frank Watkin was born in Iowa in 1887, and his parents owned a boarding house for theatrical performers in Sioux City, Iowa. Watkin became a busy man in stock/repertory theater, and newspaper clippings have him doing plays in Dubuque, Iowa in the 1910s, Pittsburg in the 1920s, and Wisconsin in the mid 1930s.
He was married at least twice. There was a 1909 marriage to Christie E. Mclennan. A newspaper article from September, 1932 reports the marriage of Watkin to actress and play producer Mary Hart in Reading, Pennsylvania (where Pierre's older brother William B. Watkin lived). The article also notes that Pierre was preparing for a role in "Manhattan Melodies" at the Longacre Theater in New York.
His Hollywood career ran from about 1935 until his death in 1960, and he free-lanced in over 300 films at various production companies. He was most often cast as a politician, doctor, lawyer, judge, businessman, etc. - basically, a person of power and authority or a distinguished sophisticate wearing a suit, white shirt and tie. Great director Frank Capra utilized Watkin in five of his film projects and those and some other Watkin movie appearances are listed below:
Les Adams has Watkin identified in about forty B westerns and serials. I recall some memorable Pierre Watkin performances in the cowboy film and cliffhanger:
Watkin must have been dependable as he worked frequently at Republic Pictures. During 1936 - 1956, he did about fifty films for that studio. And he was one of many actors who made a successful transition to television and appeared in dozens of TV shows including several judge roles on PERRY MASON.
Some of you may recall Watkin as bank president "Mr. Skinner" in THE BANK DICK (Universal, 1940). His meeting with W. C. Fields (as the inebriated Egbert SousŤ) includes the "not so hearty handclasp" greeting. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has the clip online: http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/458739/Bank-Dick-The-Movie-Clip-Hearty-Handclasp.html
Pierre passed away at his Los Angeles home on February 3, 1960. Cause of death was pneumonia and he also suffered from diabetes.
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above from left to right are Pierre Watkin, Ann Baldwin and Roy Rogers in a lobby card from WALL STREET COWBOY (Republic, 1939). In this oater set in modern times, Roy has a pair of sidekicks, Gabby Hayes and Raymond Hatton. Cattle rancher Watkin and his daughter Ann Baldwin aid Roy and his pals in saving the Circle R ranch.
Boo! Hiss! Bad Pierre!
(Image courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from left to right are Roy Rogers, Pierre Watkin, Gabby Hayes and Chester Conklin in JESSE JAMES AT BAY (Republic, 1941).
(Image courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from left to right are Hank Bell, Pierre Watkin, Gabby Hayes and William 'Billy' Benedict in another still from JESSE JAMES AT BAY (Republic, 1941).
In JJ AT BAY, the clean-shaven Pierre Watkin plays a crooked railroad tycoon, ably assisted by Hal Taliaferro (Wally Wales). Roy Rogers has a dual role - lawman Gabby Hayes gets help from his old pal Jesse James (played by Roy). Roy is also "Clint Burns" who is hired by Watkin to pretend to be Jesse and stir up trouble.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Pierre Watkin: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0914246/
The Internet Broadway Database has Pierre Watkin in a half dozen 1920s - 1930s New York stage plays: http://ibdb.com/Person/View/64195
The Playbill Vault website has additional info on Watkin's 1920s - 1930s stage plays: http://www.playbill.com/person/pierre-watkin-vault-0000096203
The Greetings from Sioux Falls, South Dakota website has a blurb on their Egyptian Theater. Quote: "September 17th, 1926 the Colonial reopened as The Egyptian Theater. The play that night was 7th Heaven, put on by the Pierre Watkin Players under the direction of Roy E. Hilliard.": http://www.greetingsfromsiouxfalls.com/Egyptian/Egyptian.htm
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), newspapers, California Death Index and the death certificate provide more on Pierre Watkin and family:
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Pierre Watkin is interred in an unmarked grave at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7967613
The Superman Supersite has a profile on Watkin: http://www.supermansupersite.com/pierrewatkin.html
It's always interesting to click through excerpts of newspaper headlines and clippings at the Google newspaper archives at: http://news.google.com/newspapers. While some of the articles are free, many go to newspaper websites where you have to pay to retrieve the full article. The following link will take you to a mix of free and pay articles on Pierre Watkin: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22pierre%20watkin%22%20site:news.google.com/newspapers&source=newspapers&gws_rd=ssl
The Des Moines Register newspaper website has a 2007 article written by Tom Longden on Iowa native Pierre Watkin: http://data.desmoinesregister.com/famous-iowans/pierre-watkin