|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 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)
18 with Roy Rogers
15 with Bob Steele (solo oaters as well as Steele in the Three Mesquiteers and Trail Blazers)
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 Patrica 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 unidentifed 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 Library of Congress, Chronicling America website has the September 1, 1921 Omaha (Nebraska) Daily Bee newspaper which has an article on the Frontier Celebration in Seward, Nebraska. Chick Hannon was a contestant in bulldogging. This link will open in a separate window / tab: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1921-09-01/ed-1/seq-1/
- May 7, 1922 issue of the Wichita Falls (Texas) Daily Times reported on the recent Wichita Falls, Texas Round-up. Kenneth Cooper got $40 for first place in steer riding and Chick Hannan won $30 for second place.
- September 9, 1923 New York Times newspapaper article headlines and excerpts: "RODEO RIDER WEDS. Chorus Girl Becomes the Bride of Chick Hannon." ; "Five weeks ago, Chick Hannon, who came from Miles City, Mont., to compete in Tex Austin's Rodeo at the Yankee Stadium, met Peggy Taylor, who confesses that she is just a chorus girl in 'The Talk of the Town' burlesque now playing at the Columbia Theater." ; "Hannon is 22 and his bride, who comes from Baltimore, is 21."
- In June-July, 1924, Chick (and Peggy) went to England and performed at the Imperial Rodeo at London's Wembley Stadium. Among Chick's winnings was second place and he split third place prize money in steer riding. And he was third in bareback bronc riding.
- The October 22, 1924 issue of Variety carried results from Tex Austin's Rodeo at Madison Square Garden. Chick Hannon took second place in wild steer riding, first place in bareback bronc riding, and first place in the wild horse race.
- June 30, 1926 Variety had an article on Joe Greer's Wild West Show at Coney Island, New York and one of the featured performers was Chick Hannon, bulldogger.
- May 7, 1927 issue of Billboard - "The Stampede and Rodeo to be held at Atlanta, Ga., May 14 to 21 (1927) will be under the direction of (Jack) Ault and (Chick) Hannan ..." ; "All live stock ... is in charge of Chick Hannan."
- Google newspaper archive has an article from January 23, 1927 Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune - Chick Hannan, rodeo performer and champion, will be performing with the Greer Circus in Sarasota, Florida. This link will open in a separate window / tab: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=bBseAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EGQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1407,6425495&dq=chick-hannan+rodeo&hl=en
- March 20, 1929 Variety - Chick and Peggy Hannan are 'trick riders' in a play about rodeos titled "Buckaroo". Reviews were poor and the show had a brief run, opening and closing after nine performances in March, 1929 at Erlanger's Theater in New York City. (Among the cast are several folks who did B westerns - Morris Ankrum (Hoppy movies) and Augie Gomez (henchman in many films)).
- January 25, 1931 Brooklyn (New York) Daily Eagle paper had a large article on real cowboys in the play "Green Grow The Lilacs". Hank Worden is mentioned along with Chick Hannan and wife Peggy: "Peggy Hannan is his wife and she has traveled and competed in many of the rodeos where he has entered. She also holds the women's world's championship for steer riding."
- October, 1968 syndicated newspaper blurb - "The Hollywood office of the American Humane Association has assigned Chick Hannan to the Warner Bros - Seven Arts motion picture production of 'The Good Guys and the Bad Guys', starring Robert Mitchum ..." ; "Hannan will supervise working conditions for over 200 head of cattle, 100 horses ... now before the cameras on location at Chama, N. M."
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 the 30 year old Chick Hannan: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-3d12-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Hank Worden, Tex Cooper, Peggy Hannan, and others: 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), 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":
- New York City marriage record - 22 year old Chick W. Hannan (born ? River, Michigan) married 21 year old Peggy F. Taylor (born Virginia) on September 8, 1923 in Manhattan, New York City: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:248S-BV9
- April, 1924 passpost application is a bit confusing as the several pages include variations in his surname and birth date. Chester William Hannon / Chester William Hannan was born May 12, 1901 / May 24, 1901 in Iron River, Michigan and is 5 feet, 7 inches tall. His father was Arthur George Hannon, (born Wisconsin) and he lives in Muskegon, Michigan. Chick is accompanied by wife Sarah Elizabeth Hannon, born October 13, 1901 in Crumpton, Maryland. They live in New York City and are sailing on/about May 4, 1924 to England for the Imperial Rodeo. There's a notation that they married September 8, 1923 and passports should be sent to rodeo promoter Tex Austin in New York City. The application also includes an affidavit on his wife which was provided by her mother Lillie M. Taylor - his wife's full maiden name was Sarah Frances Elizabeth Taylor. This link will take you to the first page - use the arrows to move to subsequent pages: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-37920-100298-39?cc=2185145
Passport photo of Chick and his wife: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-37920-100359-47?cc=2185145
- 23 year old Chester Hannan (born Iron River, Michigan) and wife Sarah Hannan (born Chester Town, Maryland) are on the passenger list of the ship Menominee, which sailed July, 1924 from London to New York City: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9PT-XCT6?i=493&cc=1368704
- Nebraska marriage record - 32 year old Chick Hannan married 22 year old Thecla Hansley on August 11, 1933 in Burwell, Garfield County, Nebraska: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2ZL-SMZV
- Ancestry.com had the 1938 Los Angeles Voter Registration for: Chester W. Hannan, 12027 Runnymede Street, occupation "rancher".
- Ancestry.com had the 1940 Newhall, Los Angeles County, Voter Registration for: Chester W. Hannan, 1131 Newhall Avenue, occupation "stockman".
- 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 39 year old Chick Hannan (born Michigan), 28 year old wife Thecla (born Nebraska) and 1 year old daughter Patrica (born California) are renting at 1131 Newhall Avenue, Newhall, California, and they lived in Newhall in 1935. He completed school through 4th grade; occupation is "Cowboy actor - Motion Pictures"; and in 1939, he worked 26 weeks and earned $2000.00: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9WG-DJ3
- Fold3 Military Records had the World War II draft registration for 40 year old Chester William Hannan, born May 24, 1901 in Iron River, Michigan. Employer is "Central Casting" He lives at 314 Arch Street, Newhall, Los Angeles County, California and contact is Tex Cline, also living at 314 Arch Street, Newhall, California. Hannan is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 155 pounds.
- Ancestry.com had 1942 and 1944 Newhall, Los Angeles County, Voter Registrations for: Chester W. Hannan, 314 Arch Street, occupation "pool hall operator", and Thecla C. Hannan, 314 Arch Street, occupation "housewife".
- Ancestry.com had 1946, 1950, and 1952 Newhall, Los Angeles County, Voter Registrations for: Chester W. Hannan, 314 Arch Street.
- Ancestry.com had the 1966-1984 California Divorce Index - Chester W. Hannan (born 1901) and Delia L. Larson (born 1906) were divorced in 1977. Family trees on Ancestry.com indicate they married in 1957.
- California Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records for Chester William Hannan, born 5/24/1901 in Michigan, Mother's maiden name of Smith, and he passed away on 8/14/1980 in Sylmar, Los Angeles County, California:
|(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).