|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.|
(sometimes spelled Hannon)
Chester William Hannan
1901 - 1980
appeared in at least 210 westerns and 14 serials and his film and television career ran from about 1935 - 1966.
Born in Iron River, Michigan in 1901 to Arthur George Hannon and Emma Smith, Chick Hannan / Hannon was another of the rodeo performers who capitalized on their ridin' and ropin' talents and became an actor and rider in B westerns, serials, and television.
Not a large or imposing figure, Hannan was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 155 pounds according to his World War II draft registration.
His film and television career spanned about thirty years, and he did mostly uncredited roles as a henchman, townsman, barfly, etc. as well as some stunting. His couple hundred westerns were with Autry, Starrett, McCoy, Holt, Lane, Lash, Crabbe, Wakely, more. Reviewing his film listing, roughly half of his oater appearances were with these heroes:
29 with Johnny Mack Brown (includes THE OREGON TRAIL serial)
26 with Tex Ritter (solo westerns as well as one with Tex and Johnny Mack Brown at Universal and one with Tex in PRC's Texas Rangers series)
18 with Roy Rogers
15 with Bob Steele (solo oaters as well as Steele in the Three Mesquiteers and Trail Blazers trio series)
11 with Wild Bill Elliott (includes the Columbia THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF WILD BILL HICKOK serial)
11 with Jack Randall at Monogram
In the 1950s and 1960s, he shows up in scores of unbilled background roles in various TV programs. And in the 1960s, Chick worked for the American Humane Association, watching out for livestock used in movie productions.
Hannan and tall, lanky Hank Worden were close friends from the rodeo circuit. They left Utah for New York City in early 1931 to appear as background cowboys in the play "Green Grow The Lilacs". Franchot Tone was the star and Woodward Ritter (Tex Ritter) was another of the cowboys. After the play ended, Hannan and Worden went to California and movie jobs.
Broadway wasn't new to Chick. He and other riders were in the play "Buckaroo" which had a brief run in March, 1929 at Erlanger's Theater in New York City.
Appears that Chick was married three times. His first was to Sarah Frances Elizabeth Taylor (Peggy Taylor) in 1923 in New York City. Peggy had minor roles in the "Buckaroo" and "Green Grow The Lilacs" plays, and there are newspaper and trade articles on her as a rodeo performer. There was a 1933 marriage in Nebraska to Thecla Hansley and daughter Patricia was born circa 1939 in California. And family trees on Ancestry.com and the California Divorce Index have a 1957 marriage and 1977 divorce from Delia L. Larson.
Hannan passed away August 14, 1980 in Sylmar, Los Angeles County, California.
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Chick Hannan: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0360468/
The IMDb has a People Working Together search function - Hannan met Tex Ritter when they did that 1931 "Green Grow the Lilacs" play. Appears they became friendly as Chick worked in over two dozen of Tex's B westerns during the years 1937 - 1945: https://www.imdb.com/search/title?title_type=feature&roles=nm0728811,nm0360468&sort=release_date,asc&view=advanced
|Tex Ritter's TROUBLE IN TEXAS (Grand National, 1937) was about rodeo racketeers and had extensive rodeo footage.|
Excerpt from a pressbook ad:
"The world champion cowboys in this exciting musical western include: Yakima Canutt, Chick Hannon, Fox O'Callahan, Harry Knight and many other equally well known, and their reckless feats of daring in the great rodeo sequences have never been equalled on the screen."
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Jack Randall is on the piano and behind him from L-to-R are Frank Hagney, unidentified player (black hat), Oscar Gahan, Chick Hannan/Hannon, unidentified blonde saloon gal, Archie Ricks, and an unidentified tall galoot in a scene from RIDERS OF THE DAWN (Monogram, 1937), Randall's first starring oater. Hagney was a henchman working for Warner Richmond. The blonde isn't Peggy Keys, who was the heroine in this western - the saloon gal may be Ella McKenzie.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from left to right are Earl Dwire (face hidden), Hal Price (with beard), Lois Wilde, Jack Randall, a bearded Chick Hannan and Ernie Adams in a crop from a lobby card from DANGER VALLEY (Monogram, 1937), Randall's third starring western. Handling both producer and director duties was Bob Steele's father, Robert North Bradbury. Hal Price was Randall's sidekick.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Chick Hannan, Hank Worden, Lew Morphy, Bob Baker, Wally West and Bob Card in a still from Baker's THE SINGING OUTLAW (Universal, 1938). That's Herman Hack in the back row center with his hand in the air. High in the upper right corner is Art Mix (George Kesterson).
Rodeos ... and Broadway plays.
Mentions of rodeo performer "Chick Hannan" (spelled with an A) and "Chick Hannon" (spelled with an O) can be found in many tradepaper and newspaper articles. A few examples and quotes:
The Internet Broadway Database has Chick Hannan as one of the background cowboys in the 1931 stage production of "Green Grow The Lilacs" at the Guild Theater in New York City. Chick's wife Peggy, Hank Worden, Tex Cooper, and Tex Ritter were also in the cast: https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/green-grow-the-lilacs-11308#OpeningNightCast
The New York Public Library Digital collections has photos from the 1931 Broadway play "Green Grow The Lilacs":
Actress Ruth Chorpenning and 30 year old Chick Hannan: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-3d12-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Hank Worden, Tex Cooper, Peggy Hannan, and others. Peggy Hannan was Chick's wife: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-3d0a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
On the trail of Chick Hannan / Hannon
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), Fold3 Military Records (subscription), newspapers, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), and the California Death Index have information on Chick Hannan and family. Note the voter registration records with Chick being a "rancher", "stockman" ... and "pool hall operator":
Death and funeral notice for Chick Hannan in the August 17, 1980 Santa Clara, California The Signal newspaper. Survivors included his wife Delia, daughter Patricia, several stepsons, a stepdaughter, and many grand children and great grand children: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/94007005/the-signal/
Find A Grave notes that Chester William 'Chick' Hannan is interred at Eternal Valley Memorial Park, Newhall, Los Angeles County, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/225221090/chester-william-hannan
(Courtesy of Pat LaRosa)
Above from left to right are George Chesebro, Chick Hannan, Charles Starrett and a very old looking Bob Kortman in a lobby card from GUNNING FOR VENGEANCE (Columbia, 1946), one of the Starrett/Durango Kid series.
(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)
Above - Ken Curtis attends to Gene Roth (Gene Stutenroth) while Roy Barcroft looks on. There are several unidentified players in the background - in the center, with checkerboard shirt and hands hanging at his side is Chick Hannan at about 50 years of age. From the chapterplay, DON DAREDEVIL RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1951).