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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, barflies, deputies, wagon drivers, ranch hands, etc. We tend to recognize some of their faces, but have no clue as to their real names.


Tom Smith

Birth name: Albert Longe

1893 - 1976

appeared in about 150+ westerns and serials as well as dozens of TV westerns, and his film and television career spanned about fifty years, from about 1924 - 1975.

Right - Tom Smith and his high topped hat ... and facial hair variations including his usual handlebar 'stache.

And he's wearing the same neckerchief slides.


1933


1947


Tom Smith was a "face-in-the-crowd" background player in B westerns and TV westerns and his specialty was portraying a townsman, barfly, or an occasional henchman. He also appeared in a few serials and A grade movies. Most all of his work was unbilled / uncredited, and he rarely had any dialog. Smith is easy to spot with that high top hat and big handlebar mustache.

In January, 2013, I chatted with Dorothy Hack Babcock (Herman Hack's daughter) and asked if she or her dad knew Tom Smith. She did remember him, but only knew him as Tom Smith. And Dorothy didn't recall if he was married.

Tom's cinema career began in the mid 1920s, and his first film MAY have been playing a cowhand in George O'Brien's THE IRON HORSE (Fox, 1924).

In the 1930s, he did B westerns with Tom Mix, Tim McCoy, Ken Maynard, Buck Jones, Tom Keene, Hoot Gibson, George O'Brien, Dick Foran, others.

In the 1940s, Tom was employed at Republic Pictures in oaters with Autry, Rogers, the Three Mesquiteers, Don Barry, Bill Elliott, Sunset Carson, Monte Hale, more. He was at Universal in their series with Johnnny Mack Brown and Rod Cameron. He also shows up in a few of the Range Busters trio series at Monogram well as Buster Crabbe, Bob Livingston, Bob Steele, Frontier Marshal, and Texas Rangers adventures at Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC).

Tom also did some Hopalong Cassidy films as well as the Hoppy TV show. And you may recognize him in uncredited roles in Gene Autry's post World War II features for Columbia Pictures.

As the B western faded away in the early 1950s, Tom picked up work in many television westerns including CISCO KID, THE RANGE RIDER, THE RIFLEMAN, DEATH VALLEY DAYS, BONANZA, more.

Jump ahead to the 1970s and Smith was still doing occasional movie and TV jobs ... and he was about eighty or so years of age. Examples from those later years:

In the Yul Brynner WESTWORLD (MGM, 1973), Tom appears in two scenes. Around 13 minutes in the film, he's wearing his tall hat and sitting in a rocking chair in the front of the hotel on the western town set. And around the 21 minute mark, he's prone on a table at the robot repair facility ... and his hat is laying on his chest.

Old Corral contributor Phil Arnold is a fan of the TV western and has Smith identified in many television programs including episodes from THE VIRGINIAN in 1970 and BARBARY COAST from 1975. In those TV shows, he was still wearing that high top hat, has a bushy mustache which was very grey ... and his grey hair was long, similar to that of Buffalo Bill Cody.

Viewing Tom's work at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), his busiest period was 1935 - 1947 and totaled about 110 films.

Smith's death notice in the Variety tradepaper noted that he was an expert with horses and trained many for movie performers. That explains the epitaph on his gravestone which reads "He Loved Peace and Horses". He certainly wasn't getting big paydays from all those unbilled "face in the crowd" parts. Good possibility that hoss training may have been his primary source of income.

So who was Tom Smith and what about his early years, parents, etc. Alas - that "Tom Smith" name is too durn generic. Without additional information, you wind up overwhelmed with gazillions of search matches.

Got lucky in December, 2020, when Linda Calvert Jacobson contacted ye Old Corral webmeister about her great uncle Tom Smith. His birth name was Albert Longe, and his parents were Henry and Christina Longe, and both were born in Germany.

Searching the census and other records for a surname of "Longe" revealed that the family - and two year old son Albert - were in Logan, Decatur County, Kansas for the 1895 Kansas census. In the 1900 U. S. census, they - and seven year old son Albert - resided in Judkins Township, Woodward County, Oklahoma Territory. Father Henry was a farmer.

Thanks Linda! Below are images and family info compiled from her e-mails:

From Linda Calvert Jacobson:


(Courtesy of Linda Calvert Jacobson)

Linda was about 19 years old and taking painting lessons. She painted this about a year after Tom passed away. Check the neckerchief slides.



(Courtesy of Linda Calvert Jacobson)

Tom Smith standing next to a truck belonging to Harry Sherman's production company. Sherman is best remembered as the producer of many of the William Boyd / Hopalong Cassidy adventures.


Tom Smith was my father's mother's brother, making him my great uncle. I have bits and pieces of the story and since my father is gone and was an only child, it's been difficult to find any living relatives to verify any of the information.

My dad always told us that Uncle Tom was running from the sheriff in Oklahoma where they lived (do not know the town) after being accused of being a horse thief. In the middle of the night my dad's father helped Uncle Tom jump a train headed west to escape the law. As we understand it, once he was in California, he changed his name to Tom Smith and got into acting.

Tom Smith was born Albert Longe on April 3, 1896 in Zephyr, Texas (and that information was from a cousin many years ago). Tom died on February 23, 1976 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in California.

His parents were Henry and Christina Longe, both of whom were born in Germany and came to the United States.

He had three sisters and a brother. His siblings (surnames Longe) were Emma, Katie, Carl and Marguerite.

Marguerite married a Pierce, and she was the only living sibling at the time of Uncle Tom's death in 1976. Marguerite died in 1978.

His sister Katie married John Calvert and that would be my grandparents.

My father, Charles W. Calvert was the only child they had. My grandparents died long before I was born so I never met them. Uncle Tom, however, was living and we wrote letters to each other for a few years when I was a teenager. I might have a few of the letters somewhere but I'll have to look for them. Also, somewhere I may still have a cover to a Western magazine that Uncle Tom sent to me. He had posed for the artist who did a painting for the cover.

Linda Calvert Jacobson
December, 2020

Ye Old Corral webmaster did contact Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles, and they responded that Bryce L. McCabe (nephew) was the informant for Tom Smith's interment. Records below indicate that Bryce was the son of Tom's sister Emma. Linda replied "I do recognize the name Bryce McCabe but had not thought about him in years. I believe he was the person who dealt with settling Uncle Tom's estate."


On the (confusing) trail of Albert Longe / Tom Smith:

  The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) needs fixing. The current IMDb bio has him incorrectly identified as Thomas Tyler Smith and born in 1892 in Okfuskee, Oklahoma: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0810180

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), death certificate, newspapers, and other sources have information on Tom Smith and the Longe family.

There's lots of inconsistencies with Albert's birth info - records below have him born in Texas, Kansas, or Oklahoma, and birth year is 1886, 1887, 1892, and 1893. However, the 1895 Kansas census and the 1900 U. S. census confirms his 1893 Kansas birth.

In that 1895 Kansas census, the Longe family was living in Logan, Decatur County, Kansas. In the 1900 census, they were in Judkins Township (west half), Woodward County, Oklahoma Territory. Father Henry was a farmer.

There's a common thread in the info below - Tom's parents were born in Germany, and I've highlighted that in this color.

  • 1890 census is unavailable - it was lost in a 1921 fire (and water damage) at the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.
  • 1895 Kansas census was available on Ancestry.com - living in Logan, Decatur County, Kansas are 24 year old Henry Long [sic] (born Germany; occupation "Farmer"), his 30 year old wife Christina (born Germany), 4 year old daughter Catherina (born Germany), 2 year old son Albert (born Kansas about 1893), and 1 year old daughter with an unreadable name (born Kansas; and that daughter is probably Emma).
  • 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Judkins Township (west half), Woodward County, Oklahoma Territory are 30 year old Hen? Longe (born Germany; occcupation "Farming"), his 36 year old wife Cristine [sic] (born Germany), 9 year old daughter Katie (born Germany), 7 year old son Albert (born September, 1893 in Kansas), and 2 year old daughter Margoretta [sic] (born Oklahoma): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMG5-492
  • U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management - Henry Longe's filing for a 160 acre homestead in Woodward, Oklahoma Territory was granted on February 28, 1903: https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=OK0850__.478&docClass=STA&sid=pighd4b5.g12#patentDetailsTabIndex=0
  • June 16, 1905 Woodward, Oklahoma News had a blurb on Henry and Christina Longe selling some real estate (which appears to be the 160 acres from the 1903 homestead above): https://www.newspapers.com/clip/66311473/the-woodward-news/
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - working in Venita Ward 4, Craig County, Oklahoma is 55 year old Christina Longe (born Germany; married). The census sheet lists many patients and a few workers at the Eastern Oklahoma Hospital. Christina is listed as "Cook - Insane Asylum": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MJ9H-4CQ
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in the home of Linder Stafford and his wife Marjorie at 6057 El Centro, Los Angeles is 44 year old Tom Smith. He is single; born in Texas circa 1886; both parents were born in Germany; he was not a veteran; and occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures". Also living there is 37 year old Floyd Ames, occupation "Actor - Motion Pictures": https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCJB-RFS
  • 1940 census - and THIS MAY OR MAY NOT BE OUR GUY. 53 year old Tom Smith is living alone and renting at 1135 Lodi Place, unit 4, Los Angeles, California. He is single; born in Texas circa 1887; occupation is "Actor - Motion Picture Studio"; and in 1939, he worked 13? weeks and earned $1100.00. The reason this is questionable is because the birth location of his parents is blank: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9CX-HWS
  • February 27, 1976 Los Angeles Times had a funeral notice for "SMITH, Tom, of Hollywood. Brother of Margaret Pierce of Kansas." No wife or children are listed nor is there any mention of him being an actor. Survivors were his sister Margaret Pierce of Kansas and seven nieces and nephews. Services were scheduled at Kiefer and Eyerick Mortuary, Glendale, California on Monday, March 1, 1976.
  • Death certificate: 83 year old Tom Smith was born September 10, 1892 in Oklahoma. Parents were Henry Long [sic] (born Germany) and Christina Finkernal (born Germany). He was never married; occupation was "Actor"; and last employer was Universal Studios. He lived at 1564 North Western Avenue, Apartment E, Los Angeles. He passed away on February 23, 1976 at the USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, and cause of death was cardiac arrest, bronchopneumonia, peritonitis, and perforated duodenal ulcer. Bryce L. McCabe, Long Beach, California was the death certificate informant. Funeral director was Kiefer and Eyerick Mortuary and burial at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.
  • California Death Index mirrors the death certificate and has a 1892 birth year - Tom Smith was born September 10, 1892 in Oklahoma and passed away February 23, 1976 in the Los Angeles area: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP6M-WFR
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has a 1893 birth year - 83 year old Tom Smith was born September 10, 1893 and passed away February, 1976 in the Los Angeles area: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V9Y3-7NY
  • Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Tom Smith at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles. He was born September 10, 1892 and died February 23, 1976. Epitaph reads "He Loved Peace and Horses": https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/85942298/tom-smith
  • Sent an e-mail to Forest Lawn Memorial Park asking for any information on the Tom Smith interment. Their reply: "In regards to your inquiry for Tom Smith I was able to find out that our Informant was Bryce L. McCabe (Nephew). Being that the interment was back in 1976 we would not have any records as to whom paid for the services."
  • February 27, 1976 issue of Variety carried a death notice on 84 year old Tom Smith - excerpts: "Smith started his career in 1930, and was known in the industry for his ability with horses. He broke many of the horses for oater stars and had been active until recently. He was a member of Chuck Wagon Trailers ..." ; "Surviving is a sister, who flew in from her home in Wichita, Kan., for services."


What I haven't found are World War I and World War II draft registrations on Albert Longe / Tom Smith. I've searched both Ancestry.com and Family Search using various surnames including Longe, Lange, Lang, Long, Lunge, etc.


Below are a few selected records on Tom Smith's siblings Emma, Katie, Carl and Marguerite as well as Bryce L. McCabe, the informant on Tom's death certificate:

  • Sister Marguerite in the 1930 census - living in Lindsey Township, Benton County, Missouri are 32 year old Harley Pierce (born Kansas), his 32 year old wife Marguerite (born Oklahoma), and daughters June and Fern. Marguerite lists both parents as born in Germany: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHX3-J1L
  • Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Marguerite Pierce (1898 - 1978) and her husband Harley J. Pierce (1897 - 1954) who are interred at Enid Cemetery, Enid, Garfield County, Oklahoma: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/88418278/marguerite-pierce

  • Sister Emma - May 29, 1918 marriage license of 39 year old Bryce F. McCabe and 29 year old Emma Long [sic] in Tulsa, Oklahoma: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q29M-M9NS
  • Brother Carl is living with married sister Emma in the 1920 census - living in Osage, Oklahoma are 40 year old Bryce F. McCabe, his 35 year old wife Emma (born Kansas), 5 year old son Bryce (born Oklahoma), daughters Olive and Lavera, father John McCabe, and 18 year old brother-in-law Carl Longe. Both Emma and Carl list the birth place of their parents as Germany: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN15-8L6
  • Sister Emma's son Bryce L. McCabe - Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Bryce Lee McCabe (1914 - 1994) who is interred at Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Los Angeles County, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/141738588/bryce-lee-mccabe

  • Sister Katie in the 1930 census - living in Corpus Christi, Texas are 56 year old J. T. Calvert (born Kansas), his 40 year old wife Katie (born Kansas), and 16 year old son Charles (born Oklahoma). Katie lists Germany as the birth place of both parents: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:HN7R-46Z




(Courtesy of Joel Towler)

In the photo left are Glenn Strange and Joel Towler at the annual Chuck Wagon Trailers barbeque in Hansen Dam Park in Pacoima, California, circa 1964. Buddy Roosevelt was behind the camera. And the man wearing the tan jacket on the far left is B western henchie Tom Smith with his trademark handlebar mustache and that tall, round top hat (crop / blowup below). I asked Joel Towler for his remembrances of Smith from those Chuck Wagon Trailers meetups:

"I talked with Tom a couple of different times. One thing he did tell me was his heavy mustache got him a lot of work as a bad guy because he looked the part of the real outlaws back in the day. He started in silents and progressed into talkies with most of the western heroes of the early westerns. He liked Buck Jones on a personal level because he was kind to everyone on the set and Buck considered himself as a paid actor and not some overblown movie star. He worked with Ken Maynard, so naturally I quizzed him about Ken's attitude and behavior on the various sets. He liked Ken in that Ken was a rough-and-tumble kind of guy. What he didn't care for was Ken's aloofness to other actors on the sets, and the instantaneous temper when he didn't agree with direction. Tom was very low-key whenever he came to the western reunions. He spent a lot of time talking with some of the stunt people and other lesser players. This isn't of much help, but at least it is a thumbnail sketch of Tom, a very pleasant man."





Stagecoach guard Tom Smith has his hands in the air in a screen capture from IN OLD ARIZONA (Fox, 1928), an early sound film and Cisco Kid adventure. The guy with the whip may be Bill Gillis. (Warner Baxter portrayed the Cisco Kid, and he won the Best Actor Oscar at the second Academy Awards ceremony held April 3, 1930.)



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are an unidentified player, Barney Beasley, unidentified barkeep, an un-mustached Tom Smith, and Ken Maynard is 'rassling with Ed Brady in a still from GUN JUSTICE (Universal, 1933). The bartender is Olin Francis.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are William Desmond, Tom Smith, Charles Starrett and Lew Morphy in DOWN RIO GRANDE WAY (Columbia, 1942).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Johnny Mack Brown, Tom Smith and Virginia Belmont in PRAIRIE EXPRESS (Monogram, 1947). Check Tom's neckerchief slides.



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