|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.|
Above and below - Roger Williams in the 1930s, with and without a moustache.
Above - 1920 Roger Grimes Williams passport photo with signature.
Full name: Roger Grimes Williams
1898 - 1964
|May 27, 2020: added info from Williams' death certificate. Scroll down to the bottom of this webpage and the death certificate is highlighted in THIS COLOR.|
May 30, 2020: the Internet Movie Database bio on actor Roger Williams has been corrected. Find A Grave bio is still incorrect.
Roger Williams was a man of many careers, one of which was portraying heavies in a hundred plus B westerns, serials and a other features during the years 1933 - 1939. At Republic Pictures, he did westerns with the Three Mesquiteers, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry. But his usual employers were Poverty Row production companies churning out sagebrushers starring Fred Scott, Tom Tyler, Jack Perrin, Kermit Maynard, Harry Carey, Bob Custer, Rex Bell, Rex Lease, Reb Russell, others.
Roger Grimes Williams was born in Denver, Colorado on February 8, 1898 to Charles H. Williams and Eva / Evangeline Lloyd. Circa 1910, the family had re-located to Los Angeles.
Fudging his birth date as February 8, 1893, he joined the Army during World War I, became a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery, and served from June 23, 1917 - January 8, 1919.
Before and after his brief time in Hollywood, Williams had many jobs. In the census and other records, he was a "Paper Maker", "General utility - Iron works", "Ox Welder", "Mechanic", "Designer - Ornamental Iron", "Stage Manager", and " Engineer" for Douglas Aircraft, McDonnell Aircraft and Northrop Aircraft.
Appears he also did four years of college, probably after his World War I military service.
Circa 1939 - 1940, Williams exited the movie business and began work in the airplane industry. In the 1940 census, he's with Douglas Aircraft in California and when he registered for the World War II draft in late 1942, he was in St. Louis, Missouri and employed by McDonnell Aircraft ... and he still had the "acting bug". California and St. Louis newspapers had more about Roger Williams at Douglas Aircraft and McDonnell Aircraft:
May 7, 1940 San Fernando, California Valley Times had a marriage announcement for his oldest child, daughter Juanita - excerpts: "... Miss Juanita Gertrude Williams, lovely daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roger Williams of 6157 Morella street, and Leonard Raymond Hunter ... on Saturday, May 4 (1940), at the home of the bride ..." ; "... bridegroom is associated with ... the Douglas Aircraft company, where the bride's father is a designer."
Articles in the August 7 and August 20, 1943 editions of the St. Louis Star - Times newspaper - excerpts: "The MAC Players, dramatics organization sponsored by ... McDonnell Aircraft Corp., will present a play, 'The Haunted Hour,' ... at the St. Louis University law school auditorium ..." ; "Production will be under the direction of Roger Williams, erstwhile professional actor, director and writer, now aeronautical engineer for the plane plant." ; "Roger Williams, who spent several years with Republic Pictures, as an actor, and who is now in the engineering department of McDonnell, will direct the production." (Links to the full articles is toward the bottom of this webpage.)
Circa late 1940s, Roger and family returned to California and he was employed as an engineer with Northrop Aircraft Corporation.
Roger was married three times. His first was to (purported) actress Vera Paloma Bennett in 1916 and that ended in a 1919 divorce. Marriage number two was in 1920 to Ruby Bell Noe in Utah and daughter Juanita was born in 1921. Ruby passed away from tuberculosis in December, 1922. Ellen was his third wife and they had two sons and a daughter: Dolores Evangeline was born in 1928; Roger Lincoln in 1930; and Arthur Francis in 1932.
In their later years, Roger and Ellen resided in Paramount, Los Angeles County, California. He passed on December 18, 1964 at St. Helens Hospital, Bellflower, California and cause of death was arteriosclerotic heart disease. Roger and Ellen are interred at Westminster Memorial Park, Westminster, Orange County, California.
Current biographies on Roger Williams are chock full of misinformation. He did not graduate from the Colorado School of Mines in Denver. And he was not the Roger Williams who died in 1939 at the Wildyrie Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains. That Roger Williams was born in 1889 in Dayton, Ohio, is interred in Dayton, and was an auditor for the Los Angeles Biltmore hotel.
|Hollywood's "enhanced" biographies on Roger Williams ... and lots of misinformation and confusion.|
(From the Kermit Maynard SONG OF THE TRAIL pressbook, courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is a bio on Williams from the pressbook to the Kermit Maynard SONG OF THE TRAIL (Ambassador-Conn, 1936). In that film, Williams was a member of the gang bossed by Wheeler Oakman. If the above is correct - and Williams had earned college degrees and was in Hollywood in 1915, then his birth year would be around 1890 or so.
Jack Tillmany e-mailed about an error in the above bio mention of the film THE WHITE FATHER and directed by Rupert Julian. There was a two-reeler titled A WHITE FEATHER VOLUNTEER (Universal, 1915) which was directed by Rupert Julian.
Note the mention of Williams having four children, his hobby was farming, and he loved to fish and hunt. At least his four children is correct - in the 1930 census Roger and wife Ellen have two daughters. And in the 1940 census, they have two daughters and two sons. Also correct is his service in the Field Artillery during World War I.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is a 1934-35 trade paper bio on a Roger Williams who was born in Germany and attended the School of Mines in Denver. Conjecture is that this Roger Williams is a technical/production person - not our Roger Williams, B western actor. As to the biography similarities, that may be just confusion by the person who authored the above and mixed the bios and background of the two Roger Williams' together. Incorrect and inflated biographies were not uncommon.
(From the Sunset pressbook for HEROES OF THE ALAMO, courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is a blurb from the pressbook to HEROES OF THE ALAMO (1937). Originally released by Anthony J. Xydias as a Sunset Productions, Inc. film, Columbia Pictures purchased it in 1938 and sent it back out as one of their own. Williams' role was Alamo defender Jim Bowie, and the biographical info is the same as the above SONG OF THE TRAIL pressbook from a year earlier.
In those pressbook biographies above, there's mention of Williams attending and graduating from the Colorado School of Mines. In mid August, 2004, I connected with Janet Blair of their Alumni Association and we exchanged several e-mails on the elusive Mr. Williams. I asked Janet about a "Roger Williams" as well as any Williams that had a first or middle name/initial of "Roger" or "R". Result of her search: no Roger Williams. Excerpts/quotes from her e-mails follow:
The last film work that Les Adams has for Williams is with Harry Webb's Metropolitan Pictures company in 1939. Les adds:
"Harry S. Webb made two Rin-Tin-Tin films films back-to-back in the San Bernardino Mountains in 1939 with virtually the same cast on both: FANGS OF THE WILD and LAW OF THE WOLF. Some sources think they are the same film, but they aren't. Dennis Moore and Luana Walters star in both, and the two casts are virtually identical, with a couple of exceptions. A main exception is Roger Williams, who is in LAW OF THE WOLF but not in FANGS OF THE WILD. My guess is that Roger Williams, the actor, may have died on location while working on these two films."
|Didn't Roger Williams pass away at the Wildyrie Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains in 1939? Yes!|
But the Roger Williams who died wasn't our actor Roger Williams.
|Biographies on Roger Williams at the the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and Find A Grave websites were incorrect as both were based on a Roger Williams who passed away at Wildyrie Camp in 1939. That guy was born 1889 in Dayton, Ohio, was a World War I Army veteran, and a public accountant and hotel auditor for the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Definitely not actor Roger Williams:
Find A Grave was sent several fix requests in 2020 and 2021 and it appears they have corrected their info on the Dayton, Ohio Roger Williams as of July, 2021: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/13282644/roger-williams
Below are more details on the Roger Williams who passed away at Wildyrie Camp in 1939:
July 8, 1939 funeral notice in the Los Angeles Times archives:
"WILLIAMS. Suddenly at Wildyrie, Cal., Roger Williams, beloved husband of Mrs. Ethel Moore Williams of 214 North Oakhurst street, Beverly Hills. Funeral services today at 2:30 p.m. from the chapel of W. A. Brown, 1815 South Flower street."
From the Bridgeport, Mono County, California library, March, 2005:
The following appears on page 1 of the July 13, 1939 Bridgeport Chronicle Union, a weekly paper. Unfortunately we are unable to make a physical copy of the microfiche, but this is the verbatum text:
Death certificate from Mono County, California: Roger Williams was nearly 50 years of age when he passed away on July 6, 1939 from Angina Pectoris at Wildyrie Camp, Mammoth Lakes, Mono County, California. He and wife Ethel Moore Williams lived at 214 North Oakhurst Drive, Beverly Hills, California. Roger's occupation was "Public Accountant - Hotel Auditor"; he was born July 13, 1889 in Dayton, Ohio; and his father was C. I. Williams and mother's maiden name was Boyer. (If anyone wants a copy of the death certificate for Accountant / auditor Roger Williams, send an e-mail to ye Old Corral webmeister.)
There were death notices in the July 7, 1939 issues of the Dayton, Ohio Daily News and Dayton, Ohio Herald newspapers. A few excerpts:
Was this Roger Williams, accountant / auditor, also our movie actor Roger Williams?
ACTOR Roger Williams:
Roger Grimes Williams (1898 - 1964)
This is our guy!
Above - screen capture of Williams from Reb Russell's CHEYENNE TORNADO (Kent, 1935).
(Image courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Above - a production still of Roger Williams circa 1937. Blowup/crop of this image shown below.
Above - photo and signature of Roger Grimes Williams from his 1920 passport. That certainly looks like our B western and serial Roger Williams ... including the cleft on his chin and the high forehead.
More on Roger Grimes Williams
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above - 1936 trade publication ad for "Roger Williams, Featured Heavy".
Links to the articles in the August 7 and August 20, 1943 editions of the St. Louis Star - Times newspaper about Roger working for McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis: