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(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

Rod Cameron
Real name: Nathan Roderick Cox
1910 - 1983

Special thanks to Paul Dellinger for the biography on Rod Cameron.

Rod Cameron had a movie career stretching from the 1930s to the 1970s, including mysteries, action dramas, war pictures, serials and even horror and sci-fi. But the lanky Canadian was best known for his westerns --- those, and for having divorced his young beautiful wife and marrying her mother.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Cameron as 'Rex Bennett' in SECRET SERVICE IN DARKEST AFRICA (Republic, 1943; 15 chapters). Pressbook ad below.

He started out by doubling stars in stunts, and had minor roles in some early Paramounts like HERITAGE OF THE DESERT (1939) with Donald Woods and Russell Hayden, and RANGERS OF FORTUNE (1940) with Fred MacMurray. Other films included THE MONSTER AND THE GIRL and I WANTED WINGS to HENRY ALDRIDGE FOR PRESIDENT and NO TIME FOR LOVE. He played Jesse James in THE REMARKABLE ANDREW (1942), a fantasy in which Brian Donlevy plays the ghost of Andrew Jackson who returns to help crusading newspaperman William Holden. Other western work included THE KANSAN (United Artists) with Richard Dix and DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS (Universal) with Johnny Mack Brown and Tex Ritter, both 1943.

1943 was the year Cameron would rise to starring status in a pair of fifteen chapter serials, SECRET SERVICE IN DARKEST AFRICA (directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet) and G-MEN VS THE BLACK DRAGON (directed by William 'Bill' Witney). In both Republic chapterplays, Cameron led a trio of counterspies against Axis powers in World War II as 'Rex Bennett'. Both helped establish Cameron as an action star, as did his own stunting ability. The careers of director Witney and Cameron would intersect a few years later.

His next step was a western series at Universal, succeeding Johnny Mack Brown and inheriting Fuzzy Knight for comedy relief. Eddie Dew also appeared in several, making a threesome, and Jennifer Holt, the real life sister of Tim Holt, was a frequent leading lady.


Then Universal put him into several color pictures with Yvonne de Carlo with western trappings and higher budgets: SALOME, WHERE SHE DANCED, FRONTIER GAL (both 1945) and RIVER LADY (1948). He also co-starred in a Maria Montez vehicle, PIRATES OF MONTEREY (1947), along with Gilbert Roland.

(Courtesy of Randy Laing)

Above from left to right are Duncan Renaldo, hero Rod Cameron (as 'Rex Bennett') and leading lady Joan Marsh in a still from the excellent cliffhanger, SECRET SERVICE IN DARKEST AFRICA (Republic, 1943) (Alternate title: MANHUNT IN THE AFRICAN JUNGLE). In the upper left, Renaldo autographed the photo for Randy Laing in 1974.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the title lobby card for Rod Cameron's RENEGADES OF THE RIO GRANDE (Universal, 1945) and the leading lady was Jennifer Holt, Tim Holt's sister. In addition to RENEGADES, Jennifer also did two others with Cameron - RIDERS OF THE SANTA FE (Universal, 1944) and BEYOND THE PECOS (Universal, 1945). That's Eddie Dew on the left; top right is Fuzzy Knight; and John James and Jennifer Holt in bottom right.

(From Old Corral collection)

Cameron and Jennifer Holt.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Cameron and Eddie Dew.

(From Old Corral collection)

After that, Cameron was all over the western map. At 20th Century Fox, despite his neat black outfit and set of pearl-handled guns, he was the bad guy in BELLE STARR'S DAUGHTER (1947) with George Montgomery as the lawman-hero and Ruth Roman in the title role. He would have a similar role at 20th three years later, again with Montgomery but with Marie Windsor this time in the title role of DAKOTA LIL.

In 1948, he played an undercover lawman in Republic's THE PLUNDERERS with Forrest Tucker as the likeable outlaw who ends up fighting renegade Indians on Cameron's side. Ilona Massey and Adrian Booth played their respective female interests. He had an even more rugged role over at Allied Artists in PANHANDLE, as a former gunfighter looking for his brother's killer. Reed Hadley was the villain of this moody piece, and Blake Edwards not only co-authored the screenplay but played Hadley's young gunsel. It was back to Republic in 1949 for another undercover job in BRIMSTONE, where the mission was to bring to justice a crime family headed by Walter Brennan. Then he rode over to Monogram to play a Texas oil driller in STRIKE IT RICH.

Also in 1949, Cameron combined with Johnny Mack Brown as a rancher in SHORT GRASS and, in 1950, they teamed up again in STAMPEDE. In both pictures, Brown played a lawman. In 1951, Cameron teamed up with Wayne Morris over at Columbia for STAGE TO TUCSON in which they are rivals for the same young lady (and Morris wins) while fighting stagecoach robbers. At Allied Artists, Cameron tracked down stolen Gatling guns in CAVALRY SCOUT and battled Indians and renegade whites at Republic in OH, SUSANNA! His other outing that year was a non-western, THE SEA HORNET.

(From Old Corral collection)
Among Cameron's best was RIDE
THE MAN DOWN (Republic, 1952).

(From Grand Comics Database)
Cameron Western #16 from August, 1952

Cameron did a couple westerns at Monogram in 1952, FORT OSAGE and WAGONS WEST (which used some footage from FORT OSAGE). In WOMAN OF THE NORTH COUNTRY at Republic, he was involved in mining rivalry. In his spare time, he discovered prehistoric animals in THE JUNGLE. Next year it was back to Republic for SAN ANTONE, involving a cattle drive, and the wild and rugged RIDE THE MAN DOWN with Ella Raines and a hatful of action. There was also a war story in which Cameron fixes an abandoned tank, THE STEEL LADY, and 1953 was also the start of his first TV series, CITY DETECTIVE. He played Detective Lt. 'Bart Grant' in syndicated shows into 1955. He did most of his movie work at Republic during those TV years, starting with SOUTHWEST PASSAGE (1954), about the Beale camel expedition in the west. In SANTA FE PASSAGE (1955), with William Witney directing, he reverts to villainy but ends up sacrificing himself so hero and heroine John Payne and Faith Domergue can escape marauding Indians. Payne plays an Indian-hating scout who falls for Domergue, and the problems start when he learns she is half-Indian. Slim Pickens is his fellow scout.

HELL'S OUTPOST (1954) was kind of a modern western, with Cameron lying his way into a modern-day mining family but finally owning up and siding against villain John Russell. The rest were non-westerns: PASSPORT TO TREASON, HEADLINE HUNTERS (a remake of 1940s BEHIND THE NEWS with Lloyd Nolan), THE FIGHTING CHANCE and DOUBLE JEOPARDY, all 1955. Ben Cooper co-starred as Cameron's younger protegee in the Witney-directed newspaper and fight pictures.

Two more Republics emerged in 1957, YAQUI DRUMS and SPOILERS OF THE FOREST (with Vera Ralston). The next year was a non-western year, with Cameron starring in THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE, a Republic mystery, and THE ELECTRONIC MONSTER (a movie about using dream therapy in brainwashing by English science fiction writer Charles Eric Maine; it was not released in the U.S. until 1960). Cameron also launched his second syndicated TV series, STATE TROOPER, in which he played Nevada Trooper 'Rod Blake' from 1957 to 1959 which was followed by another TV series, CORONADO 9, with him as detective 'Dan Adams'.

In THE GUN HAWK (1963), Cameron had dropped to an older supporting role of a lawman trying to keep the title character, played by Rory Calhoun, from going down a path of no return. Cameron's path thereafter took him to Europe for a series of westerns, which saw him play the role of Pat Garrett several times as in BULLETS DON'T ARGUE (1964), featuring an early Ennio Morricone musical score. Others included BULLET AND THE FLESH (1964).

Then came a couple of Embassy movies produced by Alex Gordon which assembled many faces familiar to fans of past westerns. In REQUIEM FOR A GUNFIGHTER (1965), Cameron impersonates a murdered judge (played by Tim McCoy) to bring Stephen McNally to justice. He is assisted by a bartender played by Johnny Mack Brown. Johnny's old saddle pal, Raymond Hatton, is also in the cast. The same year saw THE BOUNTY KILLER with Dan Duryea in the title role and Cameron, Buster Crabbe, Johnny Mack Brown, Bob Steele, Richard Arlen and even Broncho Billy Anderson rounding out the cast. In 1966, Cameron appeared in RIDE THE WIND, which was actually a couple episodes of TV's BONANZA cobbled together, with William Witney directing. It was overseas again to play Old Firehand in THUNDER AT THE BORDER in 1966 in West Germany. Columbia released it here.

Cameron was winding down his career now, as the title of THE LAST MOVIE (1971) hinted. His role again was Pat Garrett. The movie was a Dennis Hopper piece about a stuntman making one last picture in Peru. Cameron had supporting roles in EVEL KNIEVEL (1971), THE LONG CHASE (1972), two ALIAS SMITH AND JONES television shows, THE PSYCHIC KILLER (1975), JESSI'S GIRLS (in which he plays a prospector who saves a young woman (Sondra Currie) left for dead and teaches her things she must know to get revenge on her attackers). His last movie credit was LOVE AND THE MIDNIGHT AUTO SUPPLY (1978), in which, appropriately, he plays a sheriff.

In 1950 - 1953, Fawcett published 20 issues of Rod Cameron Western, a comic book featuring a fictionalized version of himself. It was also published in England. Cameron reflected at a film convention how the company used to send him several issues of his comic each month, and he would give them away to the neighborhood kids. He had just seen some of those issues in the dealers' room going for hundreds of dollars.

Cameron was born December 7, 1910, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Circa 1979, he retired to the Gainesville, Georgia area. Newspaper death notices indicate he passed away December 21, 1983 from a lengthy illness at Lanier Park Hospital, Gainesville, Georgia. Cause of death is not mentioned in the obits - some Cameron biographies mention cancer or a stroke.

The Motion Picture Herald and BoxOffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s.  With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars.  In most cases, the winners were what you would expect - Autry, Rogers, Holt, Starrett, Hoppy, etc. Cameron was ranked during the end of the B western era.

Popularity Rankings of Rod Cameron
Year Motion Picture Herald
Poll Ranking
Poll Ranking
1945 10th .
1953 . 4th
1954 . 4th
1955 No poll conducted 3rd

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Rod Cameron, Fuzzy Knight, Dan White, Ray Whitley and Eddie Dew in BEYOND THE PECOS (1945).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Rod Cameron, Dan White, Ray Whitley, Eddie Dew, and wearing a black hat on the far right is Roy Bucko ... in another still from BEYOND THE PECOS.

(Courtesy of Dixie Carson)

L-to-R are Bob Steele, Rod Cameron and stuntman Fred Carson. Carson frequently doubled Cameron. Photo was during their work in Republic's THE FIGHTING CHANCE (1955), a horse racing film directed by William Witney and Cameron in the lead.

1954 newspaper ad with Cameron as
"Lieutenant Bart Grant" in CITY DETECTIVE.

Cameron was a busy TV performer. He starred in over 200 half-hour shows in three different series:
    CITY DETECTIVE (1953 - 1955; 64 episodes)
    STATE TROOPER (1956 - 1959; 105 episodes)
    CORONADO 9 (1960 - 1961; 39 episodes)
(For comparison - there were about 180 half-hour I LOVE LUCY shows with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and over 200 half-hour adventures in the Clayton Moore / John Hart LONE RANGER TV series.)


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

YouTube has a great 20 minute video of Rob Word interviewing Tony Cameron, Rod Cameron's son. Around 16 minutes in the video, Tony talks about Rod's marriage to his mother-in-law:

Death notices and records:

The Google newspaper archive has an article noting that Cameron exited his B western series at Universal when his agent found him a "better deal". Cameron's replacement at Universal was Kirby 'Sky King' Grant:,1494370&hl=en

Cameron has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

The Northern Stars website is dedicated to Canadian born film personalities and performers, and their page on Rod Cameron is at:

Boyd Magers Western Clippings website has reviews of Cameron's A and B grade westerns:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has writeups on Cameron's two Republic cliffhangers:
G-MEN VS. THE BLACK DRAGON (Republic, 1943; 15 Chapters):
SECRET SERVICE IN DARKEST AFRICA (Republic, 1943; 15 Chapters):

Grand Comics Database has info on Rod Cameron comics:
Fawcett series in 1950 - 1953 had photo covers:
Other Cameron comics:

The Internet Archive and YouTube have some Rod Cameron westerns, serial chapters, and TV shows to view or download:
Internet Archive:

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