|The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.|
Real name was probably:
Alfred Morton Bridge
Many name variations:
Alfred Morton Bridge
Alford Morton Bridge
Alan Morton Bridge
Alan L. Bridge
1890 or 1891 - 1957
(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
I've always enjoyed the performances of Al Bridge - the scowl, the growl, and that mean, cantankerous voice.
He served in the infantry during World War I. Before and after his military stint, he and sister Loie Bridge toured the U. S. doing musical/comedy stock. In the 1920s, Chill Wills and future Hollywood leading lady Joan Crawford were members of the Bridge company. Al and Loie worked together for over fifteen years and in the early 1920s, they went out on their own. Following are a few highlights from issues of Variety at the Internet Archive website:
- July 26, 1907 Variety - excerpts: "Meyers & Free are also sending on tour three companies of the new musical production 'Toyland' ... Among those engaged are ... Loie Bridge, Alfred Bridge ..."
- January 21, 1921 Variety has an article about the Hi Jinks Musical Comedy Co. in Kansas City. Excerpt: "The Hi Jinks company is headed by Al and Loie Bridge and has proven that musical stock at popular prices can be made a winner here."
- May 6, 1921 Variety has another article about the Hi Jinks Musical Comedy Co. in Kansas City. Excerpts: "The Hi Jinks Musical Comedy Company, headed by Al and Loie Bridge, which has been the attraction at the Empress for 81 weeks, will conclude it engagement May 8. ... longest continuous run ever made by a theatrical organization in this city ... The company will go intact to the Burbank, Los Angeles, where it will open May 15 ..."
- October 13, 1922 Variety about Kansas City and the Loew's Garden theater. Excerpts: "With the opening of .... the Garden with the Al and Loie Bridge Musical Stock Co. ..."
- October 20, 1922 Variety. Headline: "Bridge Company at 50c Top Returns to Kansas City at Loew's Garden". Article excerpt: "The Al and Loie Bridge Musical Stock Co., which closed an 85 week run at the Empress a year and a half ago, started Sunday for another indefinite run ...."
- May 24, 1923 Variety - excerpt: "The Al and Loie Bridge company, musical stock at the Garden this season, will close June 6, going to Oklahoma City for a summer run in the Orpheum."
- December 10, 1924 Variety - excerpt: "H. W. McCall, manager of Al Bridge, musical stock, has leased the Garden (Theater), Kansas City and will install the company on December 21."
- March 4, 1925 Variety - the "Al Bridge Musical Co." is at the Garden Theater in Kansas City.
- October 6, 1926 Variety - announcement of the birth of a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Chill Wills. Excerpt: "The parents are of the McCall-Bridge Players at the Palace, Minneapolis. Mother and child are at home ... (in) Columbus, O (Ohio)."
- November 24, 1926 Variety has an article about a breach of contract lawsuit in Minnesota against former members of the McCall-Bridge Players by co-partners H. W. McCall and Al Bridge.
Above is a 1919 theater ad for Al and Loie Bridge when they worked for the Hi Jinks Musical Comedy Company. That's Al on the left and Loie on the right.
| |(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)
Above is Al Bridge's sister Loie Bridge in a crop/snapshot from an unidentified film.
Al began doing films circa 1931 and continued working into the early 1950s.
(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)
His earliest westerns were with Tom Tyler, Bob Steele and Rex Bell for various Poverty Row companies including Syndicate, Tiffany, Monogram, Sono Art-World Wide and Monarch.
Then came more sagebrush adventures - and Al often portrayed the brains / dress heavy or second-in-command. You can spot him doing villainy against Ken Maynard, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Johnny Mack Brown, Bill Elliott, John Wayne, William ' Hoppy' Boyd, lots more. And he shows up in about a dozen of the Columbia Charles Starrett oaters.
Mascot Pictures boss / owner Nat Levine had a "stable of dependables" and Al was a member. For Mascot, Al worked in a couple non-western features as well as a half dozen cliffhangers (THE HURRICANE EXPRESS (1932), THE DEVIL HORSE (1932), FIGHTING WITH KIT CARSON (1933), BURN 'EM UP BARNES (1934), MYSTERY MOUNTAIN (1934), and THE ADVENTURES OF REX AND RINTY (1935)).
He did other serials - examples include meaty roles in ACE DRUMMOND (Universal, 1936), JUNGLE JIM (Universal, 1936), WILD WEST DAYS (Universal, 1937), and THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF WILD BILL HICKOK (Columbia, 1938).
Al shows up in bit parts and minor supporting roles in dozens of higher grade features. He was the veterinarian tending to the injured THUNDERHEAD, SON OF FLICKA (20th Century Fox, 1945) which starred Roddy McDowell and Preston Foster. In the screwball comedy THE AWFUL TRUTH (Columbia, 1937), Bridge (and Edgar Dearing) are motorcycle cops who unluckily get involved with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Other A grade films with Bridge include: Frank Capra's MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (Columbia, 1939), Alfred Hitchcock's SABOTEUR (Universal, 1942), Rene Clair's I MARRIED A WITCH (Paramount, 1944), Elia Kazan's A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (20th Century Fox, 1945), John Ford's THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (MGM, 1945), and William Wyler's THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (Goldwyn/RKO, 1946).
There's a nice, minor role for Bridge in Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (RKO, 1946). At the end of film, the townsfolk drop off money to Jimmy Stewart. Bridge plays the sheriff, tears up the warrant for Stewart's arrest, and then smiles, laughs, and fades into the crowd.
Bridge seems to have been friendly with director Preston Sturges - or a member of Sturges' production team - for he appears in most all of the Sturges movies including SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (Paramount, 1941), THE PALM BEACH STORY (Paramount, 1942), THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK (Paramount, 1944) and HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO (Paramount, 1944). A good example of Bridge in a Sturges production is THE LADY EVE (Paramount, 1941) with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. In the opening minutes, Al has several lines of dialog as a ship's steward in the bar and restaurant.
In the early 1950s, Al does some television work and appears in episodes of THE RANGE RIDER, GENE AUTRY SHOW, ANNIE OAKLEY, WILD BILL HICKOK, a few others.
Al was also buddies with several B western players. Charles 'Slim' Whitaker's daughter Leota Whitaker Gandrau recalled that "Wally Wales, Charlie King and Al Bridge were like her uncles. They spent so much time at her house that it was as if they lived there."
Les Adams' database shows Bridge in 250+ films, of which 113 are westerns and 17 are serials. During the period 1935 - 1954, Bridge worked occasionally for Republic Pictures, appearing in about three dozen westerns and other features ... but no Republic cliffhangers.
Suffering from heart disease and emphysema, Al Bridge passed away at his Los Angeles home on December 27, 1957.
There is confusion over Bridge's first and middle names as well as his birth year. The death certificate and California Death Index have him as Alan Morton Bridge, born February 26, 1891 in Pennsylvania, mother's maiden name of Blackburn, and he passed away on December 27, 1957 in the Los Angeles area. However, the grave marker (photo below) shows his first name as 'Alford' and an 1890 birth year. Various production encyclopedias, casting directories, etc. are of no help in clearing up the confusion with his name - he's listed as Allen Bridge, Al Bridge, Al Bridges, Alan Bridge, more.
(Courtesy of Dale Crawford & Jim Sorensen)
|Army veteran Alford M. Bridge is interred at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California, Lot 1, Section 11348, Block I.|
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), death certificate, California Death Index, and military veteran headstone application provide more on Bridge (with many conflicting name variations for he and sister Loie):
- If the 1890 census was available, we'd probably learn more about Bridge. That 1890 census was lost in a 1921 fire (and water damage) at the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.
- 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - Al is listed as Alfred M. Bridge (born Pennsylvania) and was the nine year old stepson of 32 year old Wilmer Shinn. The family was living in Philadephia and other family members include Shinn's 32 year old wife Louie C. Shinn and 68 year old mother-in-law Louisia Blackburn. Al's twelve year old sister Loie (born Pennsylvania) was listed as stepdaughter with the spelling of her first name as "Louie". Both Al and sister are "at school": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M3WB-NTY
- 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - 41 year old Louie C. Bridge (divorced; born Pennsylvania), 21 year old daughter Louie [sic] E. Bridge (this is Al's sister Loie Bridge; born Pennsylvania), 19 year old son Charles A. Bridge (born Pennsylvania), and 89 year old mother Louise D. Blackburne (born England) reside in Philadelphia: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MGHQ-1PH
- World War I draft registration dated May 30, 1917 - 27 year old Al L. Bridge was living in Dallas, Texas and reported his birth date and location as February 26, 1890 and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was married; was the support of his mother; occupation was "Theatrical Producer" and he worked for the Dalton Bros. in Dallas: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-25131-15103-29?cc=1968530&wc=MM18-XBB:1065624234
- 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - living at a rooming house/hotel at 815 East Ninth Street, Kansas City, Missouri are 24 year old Francis C. Weldon (divorced; born California), his 22 year old sister Marion Davis (widowed; born California), and 28 year old uncle Alfred Bridge (married; born Pennsylvania). The occupation for all three is "Actor or Actress - Theatrical Company".: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8HX-YW5
- 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 46 year old Alan Bridge (born Pennsylvania), 35 year old wife Blanche (born Colorado), and 58 year old mother-in-law Sadie Soule (born Colorado) owned their home at 4150 Bellingham Avenue in Los Angeles, and they lived in the Los Angeles area in 1935. Bridge completed school through the eighth grade; his occupation was "Actor - free lance", and in 1939, he worked 21 weeks and earned $3680.00: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9H2-TBM
- Death certificate: 66 year old Alan Morton Bridge was born February 26, 1891 in Pennsylvania and parents were Charles Bridge and Louise Blackburn (both born Pennsylvania). He was divorced; a World War I veteran; and occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures". He passed away at his home at 345 S. Gramercy Place, Los Angeles on December 27, 1957. There was a coroner's investigation and cause of death was heart disease and emphysema. Death certificate informant was Loie Barnett (Al's sister Loie Bridge). Funeral director was Pierce Bros. Hollywood and burial at Valhalla Memorial Park.
- California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - Alan Morton Bridge was born 2/26/1891 in Pennsylvania, mother's maiden name of Blackburn, and he passed away on 12/27/1957 in the Los Angeles area: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPXM-JL6
- Ancestry.com had the July 28, 1959 Application for Headstone or Marker for military vet Alford Morton Bridge, and it was requested by his sister, Mrs. Loie Barnett. He was born February 26, 1890 in Pennsylvania; Bridge enlisted June 24, 1918 and was discharged as a Corporal on November 26, 1918; served in the U. S. Army Infantry and was stationed at Camp MacArthur, Texas. Gravestone to be shipped to Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Al Bridge and his sister Loie Bridge:
Al Bridge: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0108653/
Loie Bridge (1889 - 1974): https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0108665/
Find A Grave has both Al and Loie interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California:
Alford M. Bridge (1890 - 1957): https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7993173/al-bridge
Loie Bridge (1889 - 1974): https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7993189/loie-bridge
Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has a webpage on Al Bridge doing cliffhangers: https://filesofjerryblake.com/serial-henchmen/al-bridge/
Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website has a profile on Al Bridge: http://www.westernclippings.com/heavies/albridge_charactersheavies.shtml
In the 1920s, a future Hollywood A movie player was a dancer in the chorus of the Bridge Company - she became Joan Crawford: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=cxZWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=e-MDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6971,1970369&dq=loie-bridge+joan-crawford&hl=en
|(From Old Corral collection)
Left to right are Al Bridge, Harry Carey Sr., and Yakima Canutt in a duotone lobby card from chapter 3 of THE DEVIL HORSE (Mascot, 1932).
(From Old Corral collection)
Above - Al Bridge menacing Johnny Mack Brown in the cliffhanger, FIGHTING WITH KIT CARSON (Mascot, 1933).
(From Old Corral collection)
Left to right are Syd Saylor, Verna Hillie, Wally Wales/Hal Taliaferro, Ken Maynard, Jack Cheatham, Al Bridge and Jack Rockwell in the chapterplay, MYSTERY MOUNTAIN (Mascot, 1934). This is somewhat typical of scene stills which are staged for the photographer. Thus, a photo is often different than what appears in the actual film. And that's the case with this photo. This occurs at the beginning of Chapter 6 and Al Bridge is killed with a dart from the Rattler. While Wales/Taliaferro and Cheatham are in this still, they are not in the actual film scene.
(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)
Above from left to right are Roy Bucko, Al Bridge, Marion Weldon, Art Mix (George Kesterson) and Blackie Whiteford in a scene from DODGE CITY TRAIL (Columbia, 1936), which starred Charles Starrett.