|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.|
(Courtesy of May Bopp, Bob Burns' daughter)
Robert Frank McElroy
1890 - 1976
|Some time back, several of us thought this older gent might be Robert O'Byrne. But he isn't. Jack Tillmany found a photo of O'Byrne in a 1945 casting directory and he's much younger.
Current speculation is that he's Bob McElroy, and he and wife Hazel were restaurant owners/operators.
Born 1890 in Kentucky, McElroy was a senior citizen when he started film work in the 1940s. He found a home at Monogram Pictures doing uncredited roles as a henchman, townsman, barfly, etc. in westerns with Johnny Mack Brown, Jimmy Wakely, Whip Wilson and the Cisco Kid adventures with Gilbert Roland. He also shows up in a few Buster Crabbe and Eddie Dean oaters at Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) as well as a couple Wild Bill Elliotts for Monogram/Allied Artists. Examples:
As the B western faded away, McElroy did uncredited work in television shows CISCO KID, WILD BILL HICKOK, GENE AUTRY, a few others.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above - McElroy in a crop from a still from the Johnny Mack Brown WESTERN RENEGADES (Monogram, 1949).
Right - McElroy in a crop from a lobby card from Johnny Mack Brown's VALLEY OF FEAR (Monogram, 1947). All roped up on the left is Tris Coffin. And wearing the green shirt is Ted Adams.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Johnny Mack Brown, John Merton and McElroy in a crop from a lobby card from MAN FROM SONORA (Monogram, 1951).
|Family Search (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), and the California Death Index have more on Bob McElroy / Robert F. McElroy. The common threads in the information below are:|
his Vanceburg, Kentucky birth location
his October 3, 1890 birth date
home address of 3961 Pennsylvania Avenue
And I've highlighted those in this color.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on:
Harris L. Whittenberg
1895 - 1946
Middle name variations:
|Another of the western movie riders and background performers was Harris Laffete Whittenberg, AKA 'Vinegar Roan', and he was born on February 6, 1895 in Pontotoc, Mason County, Texas.
Census and other tidbits show him as a rider in the World's Fair Show, a rodeo performer and a movie cowboy and stunt man.
The Newspaper Archive (subscription) and trade papers had a few articles on 'Vinegar Roan' doing rodeos:
Republic Pictures expert Jack Mathis has a section on stunt and specialty performers in his Republic Confidential, Volume 1, The Studio (Jack Mathis Advertising, 1999). Vinegar Roan is among the scores of names on page 219. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has Vinegar Roan doing mostly uncredited acting jobs - primarily as a henchman or rider - in about twenty films during the years 1924-1944. We don't have a good number on his stunting or riding extra work.
There were two marriages - his first was to Mattie Harris in 1915. And in 1929, he married Cressy Jane Fowler (nee Shelton) and they were together through his passing in 1946.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Vinegar Roan: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0730107
Arizona's Little Hollywood: Sedona and Northern Arizona's Forgotten Film History 1923-1973 by Joe McNeill is a wonderful, super researched book that documents the movies and filming done in Arizona. Joe's online blog has info on the Sedona Lodge location which was used in many films including John Wayne's ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (Republic, 1947): http://arizonaslittlehollywood.blogspot.com/2010/10/touched-by-angel.html
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), death certificate, and newspapers have information on Harris Laffete Whittenberg / Harry L. Whittenberg, AKA 'Vinegar Roan':
Find A Grave website notes that Harris L. 'Vinegar Roan' Whittenberg is interred in an unmarked grave at Roosevelt Memorial Park, Gardena, Los Angeles County, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/74271404/harris-l.-whittenberg
Find A Grave also has information on Cressy Jane Shelton Whittenberg (1891-1948) who is also interred at Roosevelt Memorial Park, Gardena, Los Angeles County, California. She is "Buried next to her first husband, Arthur Fowler, and their daughter, Vivian. Her 2nd husband, Harris Whittenberg, is buried in an unmarked grave on the other side of her.": https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60247706/cressy-jane-whittenberg