|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.|
James Blaine Kratz
(Image courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
James Blaine was a lost/missing player.
For a brief period in the late 1930s - early 1940s, James Blaine found a niche and regular paydays at Universal. Examples: he was the scheming boss or co-brains heavy in FLAMING FRONTIERS (Universal serial, 1938), OREGON TRAIL (Universal serial, 1939), RIDERS OF DEATH VALLEY (Universal serial, 1941) and Johnny Mack Brown adventures such as OKLAHOMA FRONTIER (Universal, 1939), FIGHTING BILL FARGO (Universal, 1941) and MAN FROM MONTANA (Universal, 1941).
The Internet Movie Database shows Blaine in about 75 films during the period 1936 - 1944, and many of his roles were bit/minor support jobs as a detective or police officer. He was a busy guy through 1941. Then there were a few 1942 appearances ... and one unconfirmed 1944 film. And then he disappears from the movie business.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on James Blaine: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0086151/
Some reports indicate that Blaine may have passed away on March 18, 1967 at the age of 69, but that info is suspect/incorrect. Recent information indicates that our James Blaine was James Blaine Kratz, born in Missouri in 1897, and his early career was actor and manager of a traveling repertory company. Two boxes of information below - one with a variety of James Blaine possibles and the second box with the latest find.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Eleanor Hansen, Tom Steele, Johnny Mack Brown, Ed Cassidy, William Royle, Charles Stevens and James Blaine (as "Bart Eaton") in a scene from the cliffhanger FLAMING FRONTIERS (Universal, 1938).
Crop/blowup of James Blaine from the above image. Charlie Stevens on the left.
|In search of ... James Blaine|
|Jack Tillmany had done research on the lost/missing James Blaine:
I believe Blaine's ONE MYSTERIOUS NIGHT (1944) credit on IMDb is bogus, added by some well-meaning, but incorrect contributor when the Boston Blackie series was resurrected on TCM. AFI, using the Call Bureau Cast Sheet, has a pretty healthy list of uncredited names for that one, including Dick Jensen, George Magrill, Cy Malis, Ed Allen as "Policemen" and Ben Taggart as "Traffic Officer". I can't imagine Blaine's role could have been so unimportant that he didn't even make the Call Bureau Cast Sheet list.
This now leaves us with 1942 as his last year of active film work, with only two titles actually filmed and released that year, after more than a dozen in 1941. (Actually TWO YANKS IN TRINIDAD was filmed late in 1941, and released in 1942) so his final films seem to be FLIGHT LIEUTENANT (filmed March-April 1942) and BABY FACE MORGAN, which seems to have been filmed around July 1942.
Could he have gone into military service and never returned? He looks too old for combat, but may have been involved in some other kind of duty.
He does not appear in my 1943 Players Directory or any later ones, implying he was no longer "in the business" by this time.
AFI lists "James G. Blaine" as an AKA so he must have been so credited at some time.
JAMES GIBSON BLAINE (born Oakland, California) born 28 February 1895. residence: Santa Barbara, California, is listed in the WWI draft registrations as a 22 year old out of work delivery clerk.
JAMES GILLESPIE BLAINE born 25 July 1881 residence: Long Beach, California; occupation: "automobile". I think this guy is too old. So let's focus on the other one.
1930 Census Records:
James G. Blaine: age 34, living in Santa Barbara with his mother, occupation: grocery store clerk, looks like same guy as above.
James G. Blaine: age 33, (born Colorado), living in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters, occupation: some kind of plant superintendent;
James G. Blaine: age 43, (born Maine), living in Coronado, California
James G. Blaine: age 47, (born Kansas), living in National City (San Diego County), California, occupaton: paper hanger.
Of course, these are just the James G. Blaines LIVING IN CALIFORNIA in 1930.
Since there's no record of any film work prior to 1936, at which time he looks like he was at least 40 years old, this may be another case of someone migrating to Hollywood late in life, and connecting, not unusual in the 1930s.
Regarding the James Blaine who passed away on March 18, 1967: This info seems to have come from the obit in Variety, published 22 March 1967. I only have the index, not all the obits themselves, but in the index, it's listed as "Blaine, Jimmy (James William Bunn)". The Internet Movie Database link for Jimmy Blaine (1924-1967; real name: James Bunn) is at: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0086155/
|James Blaine Kratz - this looks like our guy.|
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), ProQuest obituaries, California Death Records database, and the death certificate provide more information:
- 1910 census: 55 year old Edwin B. Kratz (born Pennsylvania), his 55 year old wife Margaret (born Pennsylvania), 3 daughters and 4 sons are living in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri. Son James is 15 years old and born in Mirrouri: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M2YC-BXC
- World War I draft registration dated June 1, 1918: 21 year old James Blaine Kratz was born March 28, 1897 in Kansas City, Missouri, and is living in Kansas City. He is single; is the support of his mother; and his occupation is "Actor & Manager" and employer is "John Hazza, Hippodrome Theater". Looks like he registered through the American Consular Agent, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on June 1, 1918 (see Consular Registration Application below): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-25077-11831-65?cc=1968530
- Ancestry had a U.S., Consular Registration Application for James Kratz, "Actor & Manager on behalf of John Hazza Theatrical Co." doing 1917-1918 shows in Canada with plans to do more shows. July 23, 1918 is stamped at the top of the document. (This is an application for US citizens to stay in a foreign country for an extended period of time.)
- April 2, 1926 marriage record (not the marriage license) of 29 year old James Blaine Kratz (born Kansas City, Mo.) to Julia Belle Thompson (born about 1905 in Kansas) in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Kratz's parents were Edward B. Kratz and Margaret Kennedy: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XJ6R-S6Q
- 1930 census: 75 year old Margaret Kratz (born Pennsylvania; widowed), 50 year old son Edward (born Pennsylvania; widowed), 18 year old grandson Robert (born Missouri), and 33 year old son James (born Mirrouri) reside in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHF7-V1F
Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet: the Kratz family owns their home at 2629 Campbell Street, Kansas City, Missouri. The occupation of James is "Actor - Theatre" and he is married though his wife is not shown on the census sheet.
- 1930 census: 25 year old wife Julia B. Kratz (born Kansas) is married but she is living in Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas with her parents and brother: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X77F-7N2
- Ancestry had several Los Angeles voter registrations as well as a city directory from the early 1940s and Kratz is listed as an actor.
1940 and 1942 Los Angeles voter registrations:
Kratz, James Blaine, 1851 N Argyle av ....actor
1941 Los Angeles city directory:
Kratz, Jas B actor r1851 Argyle av
- Death certificate: James Blaine Kratz was born March 28, 1897 in Kansas City, Missouri and his parents were Edwin E. Kratz and Margaret A. Kennedy, both born in Pennsylvania. Kratz had resided in California for 15 years; occupation was "Actor-Motion Picture"; he was widowed; a World War II veteran; and home address was 1310 Ingraham St., Los Angeles. He passed away at his home on April 16, 1948. There was an autopsy and cause of death was congestive heart failure and heart disease. Funeral director was Alhambra Funeral Home and burial at San Gabriel Cemetery. Death certificate informant was Mrs. Alberta Cameron, San Gabriel, California.
- The April 18, 1948 edition of the Los Angeles Times newspaper had a funeral notice. Excerpt: "KRATZ, James Blaine, professionally known as James Blaine. Funeral ... at Alhambra Funeral Home." There were no mentions of relatives, wife, etc.