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(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
James Warren

Real name: James Whittlig

1913 - 2001

(Courtesy of Boyd & Donna Magers)

Above, Donna Magers and James Warren in Hawaii, 1984.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Special thanks to guest commentator Boyd Magers for authoring the biography on James Warren.

James Warren's true ambitions were always as an artist.

Born James Whittlig in 1913 in Marietta, Ohio, Jim studied at the Pratt Institute of Art in N.Y.  It was an MGM talent scout that spotted him and brought him to Hollywood in 1942.

Some two years and 20 odd pictures later, Jim's career had not progressed much. MGM didn't pick up his option in '44 but a talent scout at RKO spotted him and Jim was signed to replace Robert Mitchum in the studio's Zane Grey westerns. (Mitchum had replaced Tim Holt who'd entered WWII, but was elevated to bigger pictures with STORY OF G.I. JOE).

Warren starred in WANDERER OF THE WASTELAND, SUNSET PASS and CODE OF THE WEST in '45, '46 and '47 respectively. Warren, tall, lean and handsome in the Gary Cooper mold, may have made it bigger in westerns had RKO not scaled back production on their westerns during that period to one a year, but offered James Warren the same opportunity they did Tim Holt. When Holt returned from the service, he re-signed with RKO and Warren was out of the Zane Grey leads.

Approved by Randolph Scott, Jim played Randy's brother in BADMAN'S TERRITORY (1946) and played western movie star 'Steve Moore' in the showbiz comedy, DING DONG WILLIAMS (which also featured the Sons of the Pioneers). No more westerns until 1950 when producer Louis Weiss signed Jim for the lead in the unsold TV pilot of TRIGGER TALES. Entitled 'Gun Blazers', as directed by B-western vet Harry Fraser with old hands Frank Yaconelli and Milburn Morante as Jim's saddle pals opposing Fred Kohler Jr. and Glenn Strange, the pilot is no better, no worse than other early TV westerns. It's unfortunate for us (and Jim) that it did not sell.

Before the films, Jim had worked as an illustrator in New York with his art appearing in Life, Cosmopolitan and Saturday Evening Post. Even during his film tenure, Jim continued to paint. Vincent Price gave Jim his first one-man show in 1942, stating, "Warren's work has always seemed to me to have the spontaneity so essential to good watercolor painting. Added to that he has a freshness of vision and draughtmanship that make for serious consideration of these pictures." Katherine Hepburn bought seven large watercolors at that show.

In 1968, a commission by Ford Motor Company brought Warren to Maui and he remained, quickly establishing himself on the island creating whimsical paintings of local images, including the layer upon layer Kula onion (grown only on Maui). It became the 'in' thing to own a Warren Kula onion original. Warren's watercolors of Hawaiian Tutus (grandmothers) and Kikis (grandchildren) exhibit a happiness and lightheartedness that forces one to smile. Always with typical candor Jim would chuckle, "All the good paintings I paint belong to the world. All the bad ones belong to me."

James Warren, 88, died on Maui, Hawaii, on March 28, 2001.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on James Warren:

(Courtesy of Lee Flippin)

Above are James Warren and Nan Leslie in a quiet moment from SUNSET PASS (RKO, 1946).  Warren's hoss is "Steel" which had a large face blaze and three white socks. Steel was from "Fat" Jones' stable, and was ridden in the late 1940s and 50s by Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Tim Holt, and others. Ben Johnson used Steel in WAGONMASTER and he also rode him in his escape from the Indian war party across Monument Valley in RIO GRANDE.

(Courtesy of Boyd & Donna Magers)

Above from L-to-R are Warren, Nan Leslie and Robert Clarke in SUNSET PASS (RKO, 1946).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Raymond Burr, Carol Forman, and Warren in Warren's last for RKO, CODE OF THE WEST (1947). Does Carol Forman's name strike a bell with you - she was the evil villainess "Sombra" in the cliffhanger THE BLACK WIDOW (Republic, 1947).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Warren, John Laurenz and Harry Harvey.

(From Old Corral collection)

Tim Holt wound up in the Air Force as a bombadier during World War II.  Above is the title lobby card for THUNDER MOUNTAIN (RKO, 1947), which was the first of Holt's post-war series ... and the end of Warren's run in the RKO Zane Grey films.  Note the blurb on the lobby card proclaiming Tim's return to westerns.

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