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