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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.

Jack Tornek

Birth name: Issy Targownik/Targownick

1887 or 1888 - 1974


Born in Minsk, Russia, Issy Targownik/Targownick emigrated to the U.S. around 1903 and did two hitches in the U.S. Army circa 1908 and 1918. And according to citizenship/naturalization paperwork dated 1918, he also did a name change to "Jack Tornek". When he filed his World War I draft registration in 1917, Tornek was just starting his movie career, employed as an actor for Universal.

Fifty years later, he was still working and you can spot him (and his mustache and hat) in 1950s-1960s episodes of THE RIFLEMAN, CHEYENNE, GUNSMOKE, BONANZA, WILD WILD WEST, WAGON TRAIN, DEATH VALLEY DAYS, RAWHIDE, lots more. Never a main heavy or principal player, Tornek was a prolific "face in the crowd", mostly in westerns of the A and B grade variety. He generally portrayed a barfly or townsman ... and occasionally hit the saddle as a henchman, ranch hand or posse rider.

I don't recall him ever having much dialog. I do remember a few times when he responded with a nod, a grunt, a laugh, or a one or two word reply. Perhaps he had a Russian or European accent which limited his speaking roles.

Jack Tornek did films prior to 1940 and after 1956. But 1940-1956 was his busiest movie making period. Below are his FILM quantity totals by year of release. TV program appearances are NOT included.
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956

  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Jack Tornek:

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), ProQuest obituaries, California Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have information on Jack Tornek and family:

  • Military enlistment record for Issy Targownik. He enlisted January 10, 1908 in New York; he was 21 years old and birth place was Mirsk [sic], Russia; he's about 5' 4" tall; and his unit is the C Company, 4th Cavalry Regiment:
  • 1910 census - living at Fort Meade, Meade County, South Dakota was Issy Targownik, about 22 years old and born about 1888 in Russia. He was single and immigrated to the U.S. about 1902:
    Ancestry had the 1910 census takers worksheet: Issy Targownik was one of many soldiers at the Fort Meade Military Reservation in South Dakota. His unit was Troop C, 4th Cavalry Regiment.
  • World War I draft registration dated June, 1917 - 29 year old Issy Targownik was single and born January 2, 1887 in Minsk, Russia. He's listed as an alien but the registration has a notation that he "claims to be a citizen". Has three years of military experience in the U. S. Army at Fort Meade, South Dakota. Home address was 6514 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. His occupation is "Actor Moving Pictures" and employer is Universal Film Co.:
  • Ancestry had a Petition for Naturalization (including a name change) for Issy Targownick, born January 2, 1887 in Mansk [sic], Russia. He was single and a soldier at Camp Lewis, Washington. He emigrated to the U.S. in May, 1903 from Liverpool, England to New York, New York. Quote from that petiton: "Wherefore your petitioner prays that he may be admitted a citizen of the United States of America. And that his name be changed to Jack Tornek." Witnesses were a Captain and a Second Lieutenant at Camp Lewis, Washington, and they signed the document on September 11, 1918.
  • 1930 census - 36 year old Jock [sic] Tornek (born New York), his 29 year old wife Anna (born Illinois) and 1 year old son R. Norman Tornek (born California) lived in Los Angeles:
    Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet: the Torneks were one of many families renting at the Elcosty (???) Apartments on South New Hampshire Street, Los Angeles. Nothing is listed under the occupation and employer columns. Jack answered "Yes" and "World War I" to the military veteran question.
  • California Birth Index has a record for Norman Robert Tornek, born February 4, 1929 in the Los Angeles area. His mother's maiden name was Rosenberg:
  • 1940 census - 39 year old Jack Tornek (born New York), his 35 year old wife Anna (born Illinois), and 11 year old son Norman (born California) were living in Los Angeles, California:
    1940 census takers worksheet - the Tornek family was renting at 823 1/2 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, and they lived in that same house in 1935. Jack's occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures", and in 1939, he worked 32 weeks and earned $1500.00. Wife Anna's occupation was "Manager - Bungalow Court":
  • World War II draft registration - 50 year old Jack Tornek was born January 2, 1892 in Russia. His occupation was "Actor - free lance", and was living at 2921 Bellevue Avenue, Los Angeles:
  • April 20, 1952 Los Angeles county marriage license of Jack's son, 23 year old Norman Robert Tornek, 2921 Bellevue, Los Angeles, to 21 year old Donna Mae Green. Norman's parents were Jack Tornek (born New York) and Anna Rosenberg (born Illinois):
  • California Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records on Jack Tornek who passed away February 18, 1974 in the Los Angeles area. One record has a January 2, 1887 birth date and the other has a January 2, 1888 date.
  • The Los Angeles Times newspaper had funeral notices in their February 19 and 20, 1974 editions. Excerpt: "TORNEK, Jack, beloved husband of Anna ... father of Norman Robert Tornek ... service (at) Home of Peace Mausoleum Chapel, Mallnow and Silverman Mortuary, directors.":
  • California Death Index has a record for Anna Tornek, born July 4, 1898 in Illinois, maiden name of Rosenberg, and she passed away August 12, 1985 in the Los Angeles, California area.

Find A Grave website notes that "Jack (Issy) Targownik Tornek" had a non cemetery burial somewhere in California:


Tex 'Squint' Palmer

Real name: Luther W. Palmer

1904 - 1982

appeared in at least 240 westerns and 10 serials.

Right is a crop/blowup of a young Tex 'Squint' Palmer from a still from the John Wayne THE LUCKY TEXAN (Lone Star/Monogram, 1933).

There's a genealogical website with info on Tex Palmer (links below). In summary, he was one of four children born to Frank Perle Palmer and Bertha Alice Perrine Palmer, and the family lived in Xenia, Greene County, Ohio. Luther left home at around 15 years of age and headed west, winding up at the LaSalle Ranch near Newhall, California. There he met the owners daughter, Francine Marie La Salle. They married in 1934, and circa 1940, they adopted daughter Saundra.

Tex Palmer's Hollywood career lasted about thirty years, from approximately 1930 through TV shows in the late 1950s - early 1960s. His movie and television work was mostly uncredited roles as a henchman, posse rider, barfly, townsman, etc. And he frequently drove a stagecoach or wagon.

On television, you can spot Palmer in background roles in many programs churned out by Gene Autry's Flying A production company (THE GENE AUTRY SHOW, BUFFALO BILL JR., ANNIE OAKLEY, ADVENTURES OF CHAMPION). And while Tex only appeared in one Hopalong Cassidy film, he turns up in about two dozen of the half hour Hoppy television programs.

As to his B western career - Palmer can be seen in oaters with Tim McCoy, Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Tim Holt, Bill Elliott, Charles Starrett, George O'Brien, Bob Allen, Eddie Dean and Lash LaRue. But roughly half of Tex's work occurred in films starring the following:

Palmer worked most often in films with these heroes and series: Film
Bob Steele 31
John Wayne 1930s Lone Star/Monogram and early Republic westerns 19
Tex Ritter at Grand National and Monogram 18
Johnny Mack Brown at Supreme, Republic, Universal and Monogram 17
Range Busters at Monogram 16
Jack Randall at Monogram 13
Tom Keene at RKO and Monogram 10
George Houston / Bob Livingston Lone Riders at PRC 10

He retired from movie and TV work in the early 1960s. Next came some ranching in Fallon, Nevada and wife Francine passed away in Nevada in 1971. Tex later moved to Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania to live near or with his daughter Saundra and family.

Luther 'Tex' Palmer passed away March 22, 1982, and his last residence was Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. His remains were transported to California and interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, Los Angeles County, California.

  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Tex Palmer:

SCTV History website has more on the La Salle / Lassalle's vineyard in the Wiley Canyon area west of the town of Newhall:

The Family Search website, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), and newspapers provide more on Tex Palmer and family:

  • 1910 census: Frank and Bertha Palmer, 7 year old daughter Leona and 5 year old son Luther were all born in Ohio and the family resided in Dayton, Ohio:
  • Orange County, California marriage license for 28 year old Luther W. Palmer and 20 year old Francine Lassalle on December 28, 1934 in Santa Ana, Orange County, California. First marriage for both. Tex fibbed, reporting he was born in Texas. His occupation was "Cowboy" and parents were Frank Palmer and Bertha Perrin. Her parents were Francois Lassalle and Nathalie Jouglard:
  • 1940 census: 34 year old Luther Palmer, 26 year old wife Francine, and one year old daughter Saundra owned their home at 1120 Cherry Street, Newhall, California, and they were living in the Newhall area in 1935. Palmer was born in Ohio; occupation was "Cowboy Actor - Motion Pictures", and in 1939, he worked 40 weeks and earned $2500.00:
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has a record for Luther Palmer. He was born July 31, 1904; Social Security number was issued in California; he passed away March, 1982 at age 78; and last residence was Cumberland County, Pennsylvania:
  • Death and funeral notice for Luther W. 'Tex' Palmer at the Santa Clarita, California The Signal newspaper:

Find A Grave website confirms that Palmer and wife Francine are interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, Los Angeles County, California:

Genealogy website on the Palmer family:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Chief Thunder Cloud, Harry Carey, Tex Palmer and Roger Williams in a crop from a lobby card from Carey's RUSTLERS' PARADISE (Ajax, 1935).

(From Old Corral collection)

In the above lobby card from ROGUE OF THE RANGE (A. W. Hackel/Supreme, 1936), a two-gunned Johnny Mack Brown points an accusing finger at Jack Rockwell.  Thx to Les Adams for help in identifying several of the players - from L-to-R are Tex Palmer, Jack Rockwell, Blackie Whiteford (in purple shirt), Art Felix, unidentified face (behind Brown), Brown and George Ball.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above is a crop/blowup from the ROGUE OF THE RANGE lobby card shown above. From L-to-R are Tex Palmer, Jack Rockwell, 'Blackie' Whiteford, and (maybe) Art Felix.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

From L-to-R are Tex Palmer, Oscar Gahan, Merrill McCormick, Charlie King and Denver Dixon in a scene from the Jack Randall DANGER VALLEY (Monogram, 1937).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Jack Randall, Tex Palmer and Frank Yaconelli in a crop from a lobby card from Randall's THE CHEYENNE KID (Monogram, 1940).

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