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Joe De La Cruz

Full name: Joseph De La Cruz

Last name variations: Delacruz, de la Cruz, Delacruze



Joe De La Cruz specialized in playing natives, Indians and Mexicans in a movie career that spanned about twenty five years, from about 1916-1942. The earliest trade mention that I found was the August 5, 1916 issue of The Moving Picture World magazine (available at the Internet Archive): "The following changes have been made in the personnel of the Universal companies and general stock: On July 1 ... Joe de la Cruz, to play Mexican parts."

De La Cruz was born in Mexico.

One of his few credited roles is in the William Wyler directed HELL'S HEROES (Universal, 1929) which was re-made several times including John Wayne's THREE GODFATHERS. Joe plays a gang member, and after staging a robbery, baddies Charles Bickford, Fred Kohler Sr., Raymond Hatton and De La Cruz gallop out of town. But Joe is shot off his horse and dies at about 14 minutes into the film.

You can spot him as one of Francis McDonald's henchmen in the Bob Steele HIDDEN VALLEY (Monogram, 1932). And there's good close-ups of a near fifty year old De La Cruz in the saloon gunfight near the end of Chapter 1 of THE ADVENTURES OF RED RYDER (Republic, 1940). De La Cruz, as the "Apache Kid", gets shot by Don Barry.

Suffering from cancer, Joe De La Cruz passed away on December 14, 1961.

The Family Search website (free), ProQuest obituaries, and the death certificate provide more on Joe De La Cruz:

  • World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917 - 26 year old Joe De La Cruz was born March 19, 1891 in Sonora, Mexico and he lists himself as "Alien" and citzen of Mexico. He was single; lived at 1232 East 9th Street, Los Angeles; occupation was "Moving Picture actor" and employer was Universal:
  • 1940 census - 48 year old Joe Delacruz (born Mexico), his 39 year old wife Mary (born Mexico), three sons and two daughters were living in Los Angeles:
    1940 census takers worksheet - the Delacruz family was renting at 1160 East 10 Street, Los Angeles. Joe shows 0 under years of schooling; his occupation was "Actor - Motion Picture", and in 1939, he worked 20 weeks and earned $400.00. One of the sons was 11 year old Joe Delacruz (born California), and he was the informant on the 1961 death certificate for his father (see below):
  • Death certificate - 69 year old Joseph De La Cruz was born March 19, 1892 in Mexico, and his parents were Manuel De La Cruz (born Mexico) and Carmen Peralta (born Mexico). Joe and wife Maria lived at 237 North Rampart Boulevard, Los Angeles. Suffering from lung cancer and metastasis, he was hospitalized at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles and passed away there on December 14, 1961. His occupation was "Actor - Republic Studios - Motion Pictures". Death certificate informant was son Joseph De La Cruz. Funeral director was Cunningham and O'Connor, Los Angeles, and burial at Calvary Cemetery.
  • California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - Joseph Delacruz was born March 19, 1892 in Mexico, Mother's maiden name was Peralta, and he passed away December 14, 1961 in the Los Angeles area:
  • ProQuest obituaries had a funeral notice for Joseph De La Cruz in the December 16, 1961 issue of the Los Angeles (California) Times newspaper. Excerpts: "... interment at Calvary Cemetery. He leaves his widow, Maria, and five children."

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Joe De La Cruz:

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from L-to-R are Joe De La Cruz, Jayne Regan, Jack Perrin, Slim Whitaker and Tom London in a lobby card from CACTUS KID (Reliable, 1935). De La Cruz was credited as Slim Whitaker's henchman 'Cheyenne' and kills Fred Humes who plays Perrin's partner.

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

De La Cruz, Whitaker and Perrin doin' battle in another lobby card from CACTUS KID (Reliable, 1935).

(From Old Corral collection)

Far left background are Kit Guard and Gordon DeMain.  Around the table are George Morrell, unidentified player, Perrin, Joe de la Cruz. Behind the table are Fred Humes (blue jacket ) beating up Slim Whitaker.


Steve Clemento
Steve Clemente

Real name:
Steve C. Morro


On the left is Steve with a handful of his throwing knives. Crop/blowup from the TEX TAKES A HOLIDAY (Argosy, 1932) lobby card shown further down on this webpage.

Steve Clemento / Steve Clemente was born in Mexico, and was cast in silent and sound films as a native, a Mexican or an Indian. There are mentions in trade publications and newspapers that he was Native American, perhaps of Yaqui ancestry. And on his World War II draft registration, he lists his real name as "Steve C. Morro".

His few movie roles were mostly unbilled. Clemento's claim to fame - and main source of income - was his prowess throwing knives, axes, etc. He took his knife throwing act on the road to other countries, toured with circuses, played rodeos, etc. And his his knife throwing skills got him lots of behind the scenes work in A and B grade films at many production companies. A newspaper biography referenced further down this webpage has Clemento as "Champion Knife Thrower of the Motion Picture Lots". Newspaper articles indicate that he invested in Los Angeles area homes which he would build or rehab and rent.

He gets a lot of screen time in the Technicolor short THE SUNDAY ROUND-UP (Warners, 1938) with Dick Foran. Foran plays a preacher who arranges a stage show to collect money for the poor and needy. Clemente is one of the acts and shows off his knife and axe throwing skills - and his target is a very nervous Glenn Strange. And Clemente has credited roles in the serial THE VIGILANTES ARE COMING (Republic, 1936) and playing the no good "Lone Eagle" in the Hopalong Cassidy HILLS OF OLD WYOMING (Paramount, 1937).

He was a patient at Rancho Los Amigos medical facility in Los Angeles for about five months, and passed away there on May 7, 1950 from cerebral hemorrhage, arteriosclerosis and hypertension.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Steve Clemento / Clemente:

The Family Search website (free), ProQuest obituaries, and the death certificate provide more about Steve Clemento / Clemente:

(Rancho Los Amigos is a medical care / rehab facility near Hondo and Downey, California. Originally, it was "The County Poor Farm" but in the 1930s, was upgraded to a medical facility. B western baddie Lew Meehan passed away there. Info on Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center at Wikipedia:

Trade mentions of Clemento:

  • May 18, 1930 Film Daily: "John Wayne, who plays the leading male role in Fox's 'The Big Time,' is being taught the art of knife throwing by Steve Clemento, Mexican actor who has been soldier, cowpuncher, railroader and circus performer." (Note Fox's 'The Big Time'. Gotta be a reporting error - should be Wayne's 'The Big Trail'.)
  • March 16, 1935 Billboard in the Circuses section: "... the following ... will be with Col. Tim McCoy in the Wild West contingent of the Ringling-Barnum Circus this coming season: Fred Burns (foreman), Tex Cooper, Steve Clemento ..."
  • February 1, 1936 Motion Picture Daily: "Hollywood, Jan. 31 (1936) --- Ronald Colman is recovering from the impact of a knife which was thrown at him by Steve Clemente during the taking of a scene for 'Under Two Flags.' He was treated on the Twentieth Century-Fox lot. Physicians said the injury was not serious."
  • May 24, 1939 Variety on the John Ringling North/Ringling-Barnum Circus acts at the New York World's Fair: "... specialties includes Steve Clemento with his socko Mexican knifes and axes ..."
  • August, 1939 issue of Hollywood Screen Life magazine has some blurbs about Gary Cooper: "Last summer, on location, we saw him (Cooper) utilizing his spare time trying to learn how to hurl a knife at a target. Steve Clemento, a Yaqui knife thrower, was his teacher."

Lots of articles on Steve Clemento at the Newspaper Archive (subscription) and (subscription). Highlights below:

  • 1928 syndicated story - headline reads: "HE KNIFES STARS FOR A LIVING. Hurling Daggers and Battle Axes at Film Heroes Pleasant Work for Steve Clemento."
    Excerpt from the article: "Steve makes a good living throwing daggers ... at motion-picture actors. In appreciation for his faultless aim the various producers for whom he has worked have paid him enough to invest heavily in Hollywood real estate ..."
  • 1932 syndicated story - headline reads: "THERE'S MONEY THROWING KNIVES. Steve Clemento Charges More For Narrowly Missing the Greater Stars."
    Article excerpt: "After fifteen years Steve Clemento is still the sharpest blade in pictures. He still gets anywhere from $50 to $100 for a job, according to whether the 'job' is for a star or a lesser actor. This sturdy Mexican Indian ... about 15 years ago brought to pictures his skill with the knife ..."
  • 1936 syndicated column by Erskine Johnson - headline reads: "Hurling Knives at Stars Made Clemento Rich."
    Article excerpts: "Whenever a film scene requires a knife to whiz through the air ... Mr. Steve Clemento is the gent who does the throwing - at $150 a throw. For 15 years this dark, high-cheekboned Mexican Indian has been tossing knives, tomahawks, etc. at film stars and their doubles." ; "Mr. Clemento ... lives in a little white house with his wife and three Pekingese dogs ..." and "He owns houses all over Los Angeles and Hollywood --- houses that his knives and his throwing arm have built. When he isn't working in the movies, Mr. Clemento travels around the country and to China and Australia with a regular act."
  • August 15 1937 issue of the Oakland (California) Tribune has a full page article on Clemento with many photos. Included are blurbs on his knife and axe throwing skills with Jean Arthur, Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy, Wallace Beery, others. Sub-headline reads: "The Story of Steve Clemento, Champion Knife Thrower of the Motion Picture Lots - He's One Man in Hollywood Who Can't Afford to Make Mistakes."
    Article excerpt: "He owns many houses in both Los Angeles and Hollywood, houses he has bought from the earnings of his good right arm. Supervising their repair and interviewing prospective tenants take up quite a bit of his time."
  • August, 1946 newspaper article on the Eureka, California Rodeo: "Specialties at the rodeo include Monty [sic] Montana and his family of trick riders and ropers, Steve Clemento, talented knife thrower, 'Slim' Pickens, clown and bullfighter ..."

(Courtesy of Duane Harlow)

Above from left to right are Steve Clemento/Clemente (seated at table), Dick Cramer and Jack Perrin. Unidentified still from either LARIATS AND SIX-SHOOTERS (Robert J. Horner, 1931) or 45 CALIBRE ECHO (Robert J. Horner, 1932). Both starred Jack Perrin and both films are among the lost and missing.

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

TEX TAKES A HOLIDAY (Argosy, 1932) was shot in "Multicolor", an early two-strip color process. The star was Wallace MacDonald (with light blue shirt and moustache above), and he had a brief fling in front of the camera before becoming a B film producer at Columbia Pictures. He also worked for Multicolor. The player with the handful of knives is Steve Clemento / Clemente. On the far right with the brown suit is George Chesebro. TEX TAKES A HOLIDAY (Argosy, 1932) is one of the lost/missing westerns.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above L-to-R: William Boyd, George Hayes and Russell Hayden have Steve Clemento / Clemente (as 'Lone Eagle') under wraps in this crop from a lobby card from the Hopalong Cassidy adventure HILLS OF OLD WYOMING (Paramount, 1937).

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