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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.

Earl Dwire

Full name:
Earl Dean Dwire

1883 - 1940

Above left is Dwire with his grey hair and grey mustache persona.

In most of his westerns, his hair and 'stache were dyed black.

According to Bob Nareau, the author of several books on Bob Steele, Earl Dwire was a personal friend of Steele and his father, Robert North Bradbury ... and they would often go fishing and hunting together.

That close relationship carried over to the film business with Dwire working in many oaters helmed by Bradbury:

Prior to Hollywood, Dwire acted - and even did some directing - in traveling repertory companies and stock theater. He was married at least twice - his first wife was named Ruth. In 1923, he married Elizabeth Alice Maddeaux in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (and 'Beth' was a stage actress).

Earl was pencil thin, and had a distinct and easily recognizable drone to his voice. In one film, he'd play a typical henchman, with dark hair and moustache ... and he even did roles as an Indian, Mexican bandido or French Canadian. Examples: in the John Wayne THE LAWLESS FRONTIER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), Dwire is the half Apache "Zanti", the killer of Wayne's parents; and in Wayne's northwoodsy adventure THE TRAIL BEYOND (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), Earl is a henchman with a (terrible) French Canadian accent.

In some sagebrushers - such as Steele's SUNDOWN SAUNDERS (A. W. Hackel/Supreme, 1935) and Wayne's PARADISE CANYON (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935) - he wears a suit, plays a lawman, and his hair and mustache are grey. In a few such as the Harry Carey Sr. GHOST TOWN (Commodore, 1936), Earl took out his teeth and played an old codger.

My favorite Dwire role: RIDERS OF DESTINY (Lone Star/Monogram, 1933) was John Wayne's first in a string of sixteen Lone Star oaters which were released through Monogram. The youthful Wayne plays an undercover lawman named "Singing Sandy", and Robert North Bradbury wrote the story and directed. Dwire is Forrest Taylor's gunslingin' henchman "Slip Morgan", and in the street shootout near the end of the film, Wayne plugs Earl through both wrists (and there's even lots of fake blood oozing from Dwire's wounds). (Bradbury used that "shoot-em through both wrists" gunfight a year earlier when he wrote and directed THE MAN FROM HELL'S EDGES (Sono-Art/World Wide, 1932). That one starred Bob Steele, and he plugs baddie Julian Rivero (as "Lobo") through both wrists during a saloon duel. And blood drips down Rivero's wrists.)

In Les Adams' Prolific Performers listing on the Old Corral, you'll find that Dwire has about 165 sound era credits, and of that number, 116 were B westerns and 6 were serials. Pretty hefty numbers considering most all of these roles occurred in the 1930s. His work at Republic consisted of about two dozen films during the period 1935 - 1939. And about half were the A. W. Hackel/Supreme westerns which were released by Republic Pictures during its first couple of years in existence.

One of the most recognized bad guys of the 1930s, Dwire passed away on January 16, 1940 at the Los Angeles Veterans Hospital. Prior to that hospital stay, he lived at the Military Veterans Home in Los Angeles.

Spelling errors were fairly common in the opening or closing credits in the ol' B western. Occasionally, Earl Dwire's first or last name got mangled.

On the left is the cast list / opening title credits from the Rin-Tin-Tin Jr. adventure, CARYL OF THE MOUNTAINS (Reliable, 1936) ... with Earl as "Dwyer".

In a few other films, Earl was "Earle".

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

You can view/download a bunch of public domain films with Dwire from:
Internet Archive:

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), the California Death Records database, Internet Broadway Database, newspapers, and other sources have information on Earl Dwire and family:

Find A Grave website has a photo of the military headstone for Private Earl D. Dwire who is interred at Los Angeles National Cemetery, Los Angeles, California. The headstone has Dwire's military unit as the 343rd Battalion, Tank Corps:

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Index, and issues of the Variety and Clipper tradepapers on the Internet Archive have a few tidbits on the Dwire Family. Appears that Earl had at least one brother and one sister, and his father was a doctor. If the 1890 census was available, we'd probably learn more about the Dwire family, but that census was lost in a 1921 fire (and water damage) at the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.:

It's always interesting to click through newspaper headlines and clippings at the Google newspaper archives. The following links will take you to free articles on Earl Dwire's stage career:

Earl Dwire - with dark hair and a dark mustache.

(From Old Corral collection)

There's four unidentified players seated and standing on the left. Then there's Bill Cody (red shirt), Earl Dwire (behind Cody), Gilbert Pratt (lawman) and William L. Thorne (seated at table, wearing suit). Lobby card and crop/blowup from Cody's LAW OF THE NORTH (Monogram, 1932).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Fred Kohler, Jr., Ed Cassidy (minus his usual moustache) and Dwire in THE PECOS KID (Commodore, 1935), one of two starring oaters for Kohler Jr. In PECOS, Earl was billed as "Dwyer". Fred Kohler, Jr. was the real life son of movie bad guy Fred Kohler, Sr. He drifted into playing baddies - just like his father - and was in many of the later Roy Rogers films.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - a young John Wayne has collared a young and thin Eddie Parker, and on horseback, Yakima Canutt has Earl Dwire under wraps. This re-release lobby card is from THE STAR PACKER (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934), one of eleven 1930s Wayne westerns directed by Bob Steele's father, Robert North Bradbury.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

L-to-R are Sonny Chorre, William Gould, Jack Perrin, Charles 'Slim' Whitaker, and Earl Dwire (as 'Red Wolf') in Perrin's WOLF RIDERS (Reliable, 1935).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Tex Ritter has the drop on Earl Dwire in a lobby card from HITTIN' THE TRAIL (Grand National, 1937), which was helmed by Bob Steele's father, Robert North Bradbury.

(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Above from L-to-R are Earl Dwire, Steve Clark, Tom Keene, Oscar Gahan, Charles B. Murphy (wearing the badge) and Denver Dixon (Victor Adamson) in a scene from Keene's ROMANCE OF THE ROCKIES (Monogram, 1937), another oater helmed by Robert North Bradbury.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above, Bob Steele has the drop on Earl Dwire in this blue duotone 1950 re-release lobby card from THE GUN RANGER (A. W. Hackel/Republic, 1937), one of the A. W. Hackel produced Supreme westerns which were released by Republic Pictures. Robert North Bradbury directed.

Earl Dwire - with grey hair and a grey mustache.

(Courtesy of Dorothy Hack)

Above from left to right are lawman Earl Dwire (standing), Gordon Clifford, Perry Murdock, John Wayne, Herman Hack (as a Deputy) and Reed Howes in a scene from PARADISE CANYON (Lone Star/Monogram, 1935).

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - Earl Dwire is given an assist by Harry Carey Sr. in GHOST TOWN (Ajax, 1936), one of the half-dozen B grade oaters Carey did for Ajax and Commodore in the mid 1930s. Dwire portrayed a toothless old codger and miner who gets ambushed by no-goods Lee Shumway, Chuck Morrison and Roger Williams. Carey saves Dwire's life ... and his stack of greenbacks.

(Courtesy of Carol Murray and her "Jack Hendricks Photo Album")

From left to right are Robert Walker, Earl Dwire, Roger Williams and Richard Talmadge with the wounded Jack Hendricks. Scene from STEP ON IT (Reliable, 1936). In this, Dwire was the father of heroine Lois Wilde.

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