|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.|
Charles B. Murphy
Charles Bernard Murphy
1881 - 1942
(Courtesy of Fabian Cepeda)
Ken Jones, co-author of Heroes, Heavies and Sagebrush provides some biographical info on Charles B. Murphy: he was born in Independence, Missouri on December 12, 1881 and began his film career about 1920. He appeared in many western and non-western films, and rarely received billing. He was killed while working in a Hopalong Cassidy film, reportedly LOST CANYON (United Artists, 1942). He was driving a wagon and was thrown from the seat when the front wheel hit a rock and the vehicle overturned. He died from his injuries on June 11, 1942 in a Bakersfield, California hospital.
Les Adams has Murphy in 60+ sound era films, and that includes 29 westerns and 16 chapterplays. That's not a large quantity of film work considering his career ran from circa 1920 through his 1942 death.
Information from the 1930 census, newspapers, trades and movie fan magazines provide more on Charles Bernard Murphy's other career. Prior to Hollywood, he was 'Carlo Bernardi' / 'Carlos Bernardo', animal trainer and lion tamer in vaudeville and circuses. From about 1924 through the early 1930s, Murphy was in charge of the Universal Pictures' zoo (and his titles included curator, superintendent, more). During this period, Murphy and wife Lillian lived at Universal City. Following are a few blurbs on Charles B. Murphy, animal trainer, keeper of Universal's zoo, and movie actor:
- October 25, 1924 issue of Universal Weekly had a large article on the Joe Bonomo and Louise Lorraine circus serial THE LEOPARD'S LAIR: "Carlo Bernardi, the famous lion tamer is there, of course. For years he has been famous in circus circles, but now is known by his own name, as Charles Bernard Murphy, superintendent of the Universal City Zoo. He has charge of the lion, leopard and elephant acts that will be featured ..." (Note: the release title of this cliffhanger was THE GREAT CIRCUS MYSTERY (Universal, 1925) ).
- February 1, 1927 Film Daily: "Universal City witnessed its first wedding ceremony when Justice of the Peace Charles Bernard Murphy, who is an animal trainer ... married ..."
- February 8, 1930 Hollywood Filmograph: "... Charlie Murphy, keeper of the Universal Zoo. Murphy, who formerly was known as 'Carlos Bernardo,' one of the most famous animal trainers of stage and circus, was on 'The King of Jazz' set ..."
- September 29, 1934 Hollywood Filmograph: "Senor Carlos Bernardo, America's premiere subjugator of wild and ferocious beasts of the jungle, is now Charles Bernard Murphy, who played 'Grease Rowley' in Universal's 'Tailspin Tommy.' "
- In the mid 1930s, Ken Maynard formed his Diamond K Wild West Circus and Indian Congress, but it was a financial disaster and short-lived. In the August, 1936 issue of Movie Classic magazine: "Maynard has hired Charles B. Murphy, veteran trainer, to manage his many wild beasts."
The Family Search website (free), California Death Index and newspaper obituaries provide more on Charles Bernard Murphy and family:
- World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 - 37 year old Charles Bernard Murphy was born December 12, 1881, and his occupation is "Picture Actor - Vitagraph Film Co." He and Olga Celest Murphy reside at 1231 Beachwood Drive, Los Angeles. Unsure if Olga is his wife, mother, sister, etc.: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZVN-VMZ
- October 22, 1919 marriage license of 36 year old Charles B. Murphy to 26 year old Lillian L. Myrick in Santa Ana, Orange County, California. He is divorced and this is his second marriage; was born in Kansas City, Missouri; occupation is "Showman"; parents were John P. Murphy and Mary Ann Buth, both born in Ireland. Lillian was single; born in Illinois; occupation was "Musician": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8DV-HPJ
- 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 38 year old Charles B. Murphy (born Missouri) and 27 year old wife Lillian (born Illinois), and they are renting at 1421 Bales (?) Avenue, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor - Stage": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHQV-89K
- 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 49 year old Charles B. Murphy (born Missouri), 38 year old wife Lillian (born Illinois), 7 year old son Charles Murphy Jr. (born California), along with Lillian's mother and brother are living in Los Angeles at the Universal Picture facilities. They reside on Laemmle Boulevard, Universal Township, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Superintendent of Zoo - Picture Studio", and he was a veteran of the Spanish-American War: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCD7-RLB
- 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 59 year old Charles Murphy (born Missouri), 49 year old wife Lillian (born Illinois), 16 year old son Charles Murphy (born California), and 13 year old daughter Maryann (born California). They are renting at 10715 Woodbridge, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor - Motion Picture Studio", and in 1939, he worked 26 weeks and earned $1500.00: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9HL-RH4
- The California Death Index has a record for Charles Bernard Murphy, born December 12, 1881 in Missouri, and he passed away on June 11, 1942 in Kern County, California: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPQQ-ZZF
- June 14, 1942 Los Angeles (California) Times newspaper had a funeral notice - excerpts: "Charles B. Murphy ... husband of Lillian ... father of Mary Anne and Charles B. Murphy, Jr. ... Forest Lawn Mortuary in charge."
- June 17, 1942 issue of Variety: "Charles B. Murphy, 58, western actor, died June 11 (1942) in Bakersfield, Cal. as a result of injuries sustained during the filming of Paramount's 'Lost Canyon' on location. He was crushed under an overturned wagon."
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Murphy: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0614146/
Find A Grave website confirms that Charles Bernard Murphy is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/85474958/charles-bernard-murphy
Above photo clipped from a multi-page article on Universal's zoo and animal trainer Charles B. Murphy titled "Baby Animal Stars of 1925" in the August, 1925 Picture Play magazine (available at the Internet Archive).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from left to right are Murphy, Buck Jones pummeling Le Roy Mason, and Syd Saylor in a scene from WHEN A MAN SEES RED (Universal, 1934).
(Courtesy of Ken Jones)
Above from left to right are Earl Dwire, Steve Clark, Tom Keene, Oscar Gahan, lawman Charles B. Murphy, and Denver Dixon (Victor Adamson) in Tom Keene's ROMANCE OF THE ROCKIES (Monogram, 1937).