|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.|
Lots of name variations:
Fox O. Callahan
Maxwell Joseph Holcomb
1900 - 1976
Some B western players performed on the rodeo circuit prior to Hollywood, and names that come to mind include Yakima Canutt, Frank McCarroll and Chick Hannon. Another was Maxwell Joseph Holcomb, the subject of this profile.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)Fox O'Callahan - 1944
He was born January 13, 1900 in Yankton, South Dakota and his father was a farmer. As a teenager, Maxwell also did farming.
He did a hitch in the U. S. Army from 1918 - 1919.
Around 1930, Maxwell Joseph Holcomb was living in Los Angeles. And he was now "Max Callahan", one of the rodeo performers appearing in the dreadful Tom Keene PARDON MY GUN (RKO, 1930). In the early 1930s, professional rodeo performer Max did another name change to "Fox O'Callahan". And from 1930s and 1940s newspaper clippings, Fox O'Callahan won some events and was an officer in the RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association). He also settled down in Newhall, California.
His sporadic film work spanned many decades and he did appear in silents. The earliest tradepaper mention that I found was in the January 30, 1926 issue of Motion Picture News - Max Holcomb was in the cast of Bob Custer's BEYOND THE ROCKIES (FBO, 1926).
He's a "Calf Roper-Rodeo" in the 1940 census, and in the rodeo business in several 1940s Newhall, Los Angeles County voter registrations. This leads me to believe that he considered rodeoing as his primary occupation and movie roles were to supplement his income.
The bulk of his movie work begins in the early 1940s when he was over forty years of age. Perhaps the quantity of rodeos had been negatively impacted during the World War II years. Or Holcomb decided that he could eliminate lots of travel, lots of bruises, and make a decent living in B westerns as a stunt man as well as playing uncredited roles as a henchman, townsman, barfly, posse rider, etc. He was still active in films - as well as television programs - into the mid 1960s.
There were several marriages. In 1924, Maxwell Joseph Holcomb tied the knot with Clarance Frances Sullivan in Montana. But she was underage and the marriage ended in a messy 1925 divorce. In the 1930 census, he and wife Eva Blanche McCoy are in Los Angeles and Maxwell's occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures". Marriage number three was to Sybeal Oralee Albertson in 1938 in Utah (and ancestry.com family trees list "Sally" as Sybeal's nickname).
Les Adams has him pegged in about ninety B westerns.
The SCVHistory.com website (Santa Clarita Valley) has a 2006 article by Linda Tarnoff about noted rodeo performer Phil Rawlins and Fox O'Callahan is praised. An excerpt follows and the link to the full article is further down on this webpage:
Phil Rawlins "... learned about the Canyon from local Newhall pioneer Fox O'Callahan, a famous rodeo cowboy who also worked in the motion picture business. To this day, Phil maintains that Fox should have a star on Newhall's Western Walk of Stars. It was from Fox that he purchased 10 acres behind his current home ..."
Longtime Newhall, California resident Fox O'Callahan / Maxwell Joseph Holcomb passed away on April 14, 1976 and survivors were his wife Sally, five brothers, and a sister. He was 76 years old.
Sources have several variations of Holcomb's rodeo and movie names - there's Fox O'Callahan, Fox Callahan, more. However, it appears that "Fox O'Callahan" was the name chosen by Holcomb ... and "Fox O'Callahan" is the name most often mentioned in rodeo clippings in newspapers.
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Callahan: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0130192
The SCVHistory.com website (Santa Clarita Valley) has that 2006 article by Linda Tarnoff about noted rodeo performer Phil Rawlins and Fox O'Callahan is mentioned: http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/pcpoa1206-philrawlins.htm
Above - Bob Steele has the drop on Fox O'Callahan in this screen capture from LIGHTNIN' CRANDALL (A. W. Hackel/Republic, 1937).
Ancestry.com has several family trees created by Holcomb family members. However, the information below has the same or more detail than those family trees.
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), newspapers, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), and California Death Index have information on Fox O'Callahan / Maxwell Joseph Holcomb:
- 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - Maxwell Holcomb was born January, 1900 in South Dakota to 28 year old Charles Holcomb (born Iowa; occupation "Farmer") and 23 year old Katie Holcomb (born South Dakota). They are living in Yankton, South Dakota at the home of her parents, M. J. and Ellen McLarin: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMRF-HFY
- 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Kadoka, Stanley County, South Dakota are 36 year old Chales Halcomb [sic] (born South Dakota; occupation "Farmer"), his 31 year old wife Catherine M. (born South Dakota) and six children ages ten through a newborn. The oldest is ten year old son Maxwell J. Halcomb [sic] (born South Dakota): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MPXV-1DV
- Ancestry had a record from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File for: Maxwell Holcomb, born January 13, 1900. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 5, 1918 and was discharged August 12, 1919.
- 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Township 41, Washabaugh County, South Dakota are 48 year old Charles Holcomb (born South Dakota; occupation "Farmer - Livestock"), his 41 year old wife Katherine (born South Dakota), and their nine children, ages 19 to newborn. The oldest child is 19 year old son Maxwell J. Holcomb (born South Dakota; occupation "Laborer - home farm"): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6J3-DXS
- Ancestry had the July 12, 1924 marriage record of 24 year old Maxwell Joseph Holcomb to Clarance Frances Sullivan in Wolf Point, Roosevelt County, Montana.
- Newspaper Archive had October and December, 1925 articles from the Anaconda (Montana) Standard and Helena (Montana) Daily Independent newspapers on the (messy) divorce of Clara Frances Holcomb from Maxwell Joseph Holcomb. They were married July 12, 1924 in Poplar, Montana, but she was only 15 years of age and did not have parental consent. She also claimed that Holcomb deserted her. Clara was granted a divorce in December, 1925, and Holcomb did not contest the divorce.
- July 7, 1928 Montana marriage license of 28 year old Maxwell Joseph Holcomb (born Yankton, South Dakota; previously married) to 22 year old Eva Blanche McCoy (born Oregon) in Great Falls, Cascade County, Montana. His parents were Charles Holcomb and Katherine McLain: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11778-99120-24?cc=1609797
- 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Los Angeles, California are 30 year old Maxwell J. Holcomb (born South Dakota), his 24 year old wife Eva B. (born Oregon), brother-in-law Lenthal L. McCoy (born Oregon), and a boarder. The occupations of Maxwell, wife Eva, and brother-in-law Lenthal L. McCoy are "Actress or Actor Motion Pictures". Maxwell indicates he was a World War I veteran: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XC8C-DZQ
- There's a passenger list from a ship that sailed from Sydney, Australia to Honolulu in 1937 - Maxwell Joseph Holcomb is single and was born January 13, 1900 in Yankton, South Dakota. Other rodeo professionals are also on the list including Floyd Stillings, Johnie Schneider and Oral Harris Zumwalt. They were returning from a rodeo tour in Australia: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-36724-24448-46?cc=2141044
- September 17, 1938 marriage record (not the license) of Sybeal Oralee Albertson to Maxwell Joseph Holcomb in Latah, Idaho: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-9727-15146-5?cc=1662500
- 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - renting in Soledad Township, Los Angeles County, California are 40 year old Maxwell Halcomb [sic] (born South Dakota) and his 27 year old wife Sybeal (born Nebraska). His occupation is "Calf Roper - Rodeo": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9WP-RCP
- Ancestry.com had the World War II draft registration dated February 14, 1942 for 42 year old Maxwell Joseph Holcomb. He was born January 13, 1900 in Yankton, South Dakota; lives in Newhall, California with wife Sybeal; he's 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 152 pounds. His employer/location is "Self", "Ranching and Rodeo, Newhall, California".
- Ancestry.com had Los Angeles County voter registrations for Maxwell and wife Sybeal and some list an occupation. Note the confusing address variations for he and Sybeal. Were they living apart ... or did they have several properties?:
1942 Los Angeles voter registration for Newhall Precinct No. 2 has Maxwell J. Holcomb (occupation rodeo) living at Placerita canyon. Mrs. Sybeal O. Holcomb (housewife) is at Sec 36, T 3 N, R 16 W, and Philip L. Holcomb (laborer) is at Sec 1, T 3 N, R 16 W. (Philip is his brother, born about 1920 and is the youngest of the Holcomb children in the 1920 census.)
1944 Los Angeles voter registration for Newhall Precinct No. 2 has Maxwell J. Holcomb (occupation rodeo), living at Placerita canyon while Mrs. Sybeal O. Holcomb (housewife) has Quigley Canyon.
1954 Los Angeles voter registration for Newhall Precinct No. 2 has Maxwell J. Holcomb at Placerita Canyon and Mrs. Sybeal Holcomb at Tuigley [sic] Canyon.
- The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and California Death Index have records for Maxwell J. Holcomb, born in South Dakota, last residence was Newhall, California, and he passed away April 14, 1976 in the Los Angeles area. The SSDI has his birth date as January 13, 1900 while the California Death Index has January 13, 1901:
California Death Index: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VGT7-9HQ
Social Security Death Index (SSDI): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JG7Z-5PB
- Death notice for Fox O'Callahan in the April 16, 1976 Santa Clarita, California Signal newspaper: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/77259463/the-signal/
- The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and California Death Index have records for Sybeal Oralee Holcomb, born November 15, 1912 in Nebraska, father's last name was Albertson, mother's maiden name was Easton, and she passed away April 10, 1993 in the Los Angeles area.
|Tex Ritter's TROUBLE IN TEXAS (Grand National, 1937) was about rodeo racketeers and had extensive rodeo footage.|
Excerpt from one of the pressbook ads:
"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."
Google, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, the TROVE (Australia) newspaper archive, and the Newspaper Archive (subscription) have articles on rodeo professional Fox O'Callahan:
1946 - Fox O'Callahan is an officer in the RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association): http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=336&dat=19460924&id=g2RSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vXwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6754,2417810
1945 - Fox O'Callahan is one of the judges at the Leo Carillo Rodeo in Los Angeles: https://books.google.com/books?id=thEEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PT45&lpg=PT45&dq=%22fox+o.+callahan%22+%2B%22rodeo%22&source=bl&ots=TTigQH0rj2&sig=vAlB4VtFTxJ5l-eGXzuDovjkeB8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5Lf0VOP3NK6asQSUooGoCg&ved=0CDEQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=%22fox%20o.%20callahan%22%20%2B%22rodeo%22&f=false
1943 - Fox O'Callahan is one of the stars of the Hoot Gibson Rodeo in Lodi, California (article begins on first page in the center, and continues onto page three): http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=dXBh7-90p_YC&dat=19430528&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
1938 - Fox Callahan wins calf roping at Colfax, Washington: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19380911&id=9xxWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0eMDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6635,3114060
1937: Fox O'Callahan is rodeoing in Australia: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/17292937 and http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/36869621
1935 - Fox O'Callahan is a contestant at the Heppner Rodeo in Heppner, Oregon: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1025&dat=19350829&id=kyYlAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UxEGAAAAIBAJ&pg=3891,805337
1932: Fox O'Callahan takes first place in bareback riding at the Livermore Rodeo in Livermore, California: http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SN19320527.2.50#
There were more articles on Fox O'Callahan doing rodeos at the Newspaper Archive (subscription). Examples: he was third in calf roping at a July, 1935 rodeo in Reno, Nevada; he took first place in bareback riding at an August, 1937 rodeo in Centralia, Washington; was in fourth place in team roping at an April, 1947 rodeo in Long Beach, California.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
|Wasn't he called "Foxy"?|
Newspaper clippings have him as Fox O'Callahan ... never "Foxy" O'Callahan.
Les Adams had a copy of Dell's Summer, 1950 Western Stars comic book, and there's an article and several photos about Allan 'Rocky' Lane, his ranch, and Foxy O'Callahan helpin' with the chores. One of the images is shown on the left.
Perhaps he was called "Foxy" by his close friends.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above - production still from the first Trail Blazers' adventure, WILD HORSE STAMPEDE (Monogram, 1943) with Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson. Brains heavy Ian Keith is on the right in the suit. Lots of faces in this photo, and below is a crop/blowup:
L to R are Ken Maynard, three unidentified players, Bob Baker, Reed Howes (mustache), and Hoot Gibson. Looks like onetime child star Buzz Barton in the background with hands in the air.
L to R are unidentified player, Tex Palmer, Tom London, and Ian Keith. On the stairs is Fox O'Callahan.