|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.|
(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)
Ethan Allen Laidlaw
Allen Ethan Laidlaw
1899 - 1963
Left - Laidlaw with his normal mustache and beard stubble.
Ethan Allen Laidlaw was born in 1899 in Butte, Montana to Charles Porter Laidlaw and Nellie Olis. When Ethan registered for the World War I draft in 1918, he was employed by the Burroughs Adding Machine Company in Butte. In the 1920 census, he was working as a Auto Repair shop machinist in Butte. In the 1940 census, he reported three years of college attendance.
How and why he wound up in Hollywoodland is a mystery. His movie career began in the mid 1920s, and he did silent westerns with Tom Mix, Bob Custer, Tom Tyler, Buzz Barton and many others. In sound films, Laidlaw was a busy guy in westerns and other movies. He was rarely credited and found his niche portraying criminals, gang members and B western henchmen.
Laidlaw successfully transitioned to television work and received many paychecks doing minor background roles in THE RIFLEMAN, HAVE GUN - WILL TRAVEL, GUNSMOKE, DEATH VALLEY DAYS, lots more ... including several dozen episodes of the Hugh O'Brian THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP.
He had 500 film and TV appearances during a lengthy career that ran from about 1923 - 1963. Les Adams has him working in about 300 sound films, of which 134 are westerns and 16 are serials. His work for Republic Pictures amounts to about two dozen films during the period from 1937 - 1947, and that number includes one serial and 18 westerns.
I couldn't recall seeing Laidlaw without his usual mustache. But I spotted him clean shaven and without his 'stache in "The Buntline Special", an episode from season 5 of TV's THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP.
Based on census and death certificate information, Laidlaw was married three times and there were no children.
He passed away on May 25, 1963 from a heart attack/coronary blockage at the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital.
His military service is a question mark. At the Find A Grave website link below, the marker for Laidlaw has him as a World War II veteran in the U. S. Navy reserve. He may have served reserve time in California, but doubtful that he was on overseas duty due to his age and the significant quantity of his film roles during World War II years. The information might be incorrect and Laidlaw may have done Navy duty during or after World War I. But in the 1930 census, he answered "No" to the are you a military veteran question.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Ethan Laidlaw: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0481756/
Boyd Magers has a biography of Ethan Laidlaw on his Western Clippings website: http://www.westernclippings.com/heavies/ethanlaidlaw_charactersheavies.shtml
Laidlaw did appear in about a half dozen of the Three Stooges comedies: http://www.threestooges.net/cast/actor/246/
(From Old Corral collection)
Above is a copy of a lobby card from FUGITIVE FROM SONORA (Republic, 1943) showing Lynn Merrick, star Don Barry and baddie Ethan Laidlaw (with his mustache, but no beard stubble).
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com, ProQuest obituaries, California Death Index, and the death certificate provide more information on Ethan Laidlaw and family:
- Initial and a follow-up Montana birth records for Allen Ethan Laidlaw, born November 28, 1899 in Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. Parents were 36 year old Charles P. Laidlaw (born Minnesota; occupation Engineer) and 28 year old Nellie Olis (born Minnesota). The second record shows "Given name added from a supplemental report dated January 30, 1958.":
Male child with a last name of Laidlaw: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GB2L-8B3?i=630&wc=M6F3-VZ3%3A227326901%2C227410201%3Fcc%3D1930397&cc=1930397
Secondary record adding full name of Allen Ethan Laidlaw: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-8B2K-3NH?i=1839&wc=M6F3-6WL%3A227326901%2C227384701%3Fcc%3D1930397&cc=1930397
- 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - 36 year old Charles P. Laidlaw (born Minnesota; occupation "Engineer"), 29 year old wife Nellie L. (born Minnesota), 4 year old son Byron E. (born Montana) and newborn son Ethan (born Montana) are living in Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. Ethan is listed as 6/12 months old (meaning a half year old): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MM5D-HJ3
- 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - 46 year old Charles P. Laidlaw (born Minnesota; occupation "Engineer-Laundry"), 36 year old wife Nellie L. (born Minnesota), 13 year old son Byron E. (born Montana) and 10 year old son Ethan (born Montana) are living in Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MLC6-P4Q
- World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918: 18 year old Ethan Allen Laidlaw was born November 25, 1899 and is living with his parents at 825 Highland Avenue, Butte, Montana. Laidlaw's occupation is "Mechanical Inspector" for the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, Butte, Montana. Father Charles Porter Laidlaw is his contact: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-26272-43103-93?cc=1968530
- 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 23 year old E. A. Laidlaw (born Montana) is living in Butte, Montana with his 50 year old widowed father and 10 year old brother C. P. Laidlaw. Ethan's occupation is "Machinist - Auto Repair Shop": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8Q7-JP5
- Ancestry had the Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index (not the marriage license) for the October 4, 1922 marriage of Esthan [sic] A. Laidlaw to Mildred Carter.
- 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 29 year old Ethean [sic] A. Laidlaw (born Montana) and 29 year old wife Mildred A. (born Illinois) are renting at unit 526, Sun Ray Apartments, 4829 Lexington Avenue, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor - Motion Pictures"; and his response is "No" to the are you a military veteran question. No occupation listed for wife Mildred: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCJY-24G
- 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 39 year old Ethan Laidlay [sic] (born Montana) and his 40 year old wife Mildred Laidlay [sic] (born Illinois) own their home at 6767 Wedgewood Place, Hollywood, California. His occupation is "Actor - Motion Picture Studio", and in 1939, he worked 39 weeks and earned $3690.00. Mildred's occupation is "Stenographer - Realty Tax", and in 1939, she worked 45 weeks and earned $1650.00. He completed three years of college and Mildred four years of college: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9CD-D7N
- Ancestry.com had Ethan's World War II draft registration dated February 14, 1942 - 42 year old Ethan A. Laidlaw was born November 25, 1899 in Butte, Montana. He and wife Mildred live at 6767 Wedgewood Place, Los Angeles, California, and his employer is "Various Studios". He's 6 feet, 1 inches in height and weighs 187 pounds.
- 1942 World War II draft registration for Ethan's brother Byron who lives in New York City. It notes that Ethan A. Laidlaw is his contact and resides at 6767 Wedgewood Place, Hollywood, California: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11602-139284-10?cc=1861144
- The March 27, 1947 Los Angeles (California) Times newspaper had a (very brief) obituary for: "LAIDLAW, Mildred Carter. Forest Lawn Mortuary in charge."
- January 4, 1948 Los Angeles marriage license of 47 year old Ethan Allen Laidlaw (born Butte, Montana; his 2nd marriage) to Mabelle Anne Ward / AKA Noma Ward (born Arkansas; her 1st marriage). Laidlaw's address is still 6767 Wedgewood Place, Hollywood, California; occupation is "Actor - M. P. Studios"; and his parents were Charles P. Laidlaw (born Minnesota) and Velia Olis (born Ireland). Wife Noma's occupation is difficult to read - looks like "Counselor Humanity ???":
- Death certificate: 63 year old Ethan Allen Laidlaw was born November 25, 1899 in Montana; parents were Charles P. Laidlaw and Mary Olas [sic]; occupation was "Actor - Free Lance - Motion Pictures & TV"; he was a World War II veteran; and wife was Marie V. Laidlaw, occupation "Registered Nurse"; and they lived at 6767 Wedgewood Place, Los Angeles. Laidlaw died May 25, 1963 at the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital and cause of death was coronary occlusion (which, according to Wikipedia, is an obstruction of blood flow in a coronary artery). Pierce Bros. Hollywood was the funeral director and burial at Forest Lawn.
- California Death Index mirrors the death certificate - Ethan A. Laidlaw was born 11/25/1899 in Missouri (incorrect), mother's maiden name of Olas [sic], and he passed away in the Los Angeles area on 5/25/1963: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPL9-D8V
- The Los Angeles (California) Times newspaper had a funeral notice in their May 27, 1963 issue. Excerpt: "LAIDLAW, Ethan A., beloved husband of Mrs. Marie V. Laidlaw, brother of Byron and Charles Laidlaw and Helen Beakey ..."
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the marker for Ethan A. Laidlaw at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California. His marker shows S1 USNR, WORLD WAR II (which appears to be Seaman First Class, Naval Reserve): https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/11473/ethan-laidlaw
His first wife Mildred Carter Laidlaw passed away on March 25, 1947, and she is also interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/71575002/mildred-laidlaw
|(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above are Ethan Laidlaw and Jack Perrin in a lobby card for RAINBOW RIDERS (Reliable, 1934), one of the Bud 'n' Ben featurettes/shorts which co-starred rotund Benny Corbett (photo inset, upper left). Standing between Laidlaw and Perrin is Mack V. Wright. In addition to some acting jobs, Wright spent time behind the camera as the director of oaters such as the Three Mesquiteers' ROARIN' LEAD and RIDERS OF THE WHISTLING SKULL, and was co-director/assistant director/second unit director on THE VIGILANTES ARE COMING and THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF WILD BILL HICKOK serials, several of the Rough Riders films, and more.
(From Old Corral collection)
Left to right are 'Big Boy' Williams, Ethan Laidlaw, Harry Carey and Hoot Gibson in a lobby card from POWDERSMOKE RANGE (RKO, 1935). In this, Laidlaw had a credited role as no-good 'Fin Sharkey'.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from left to right are bartender Ethan Laidlaw, Charles Starrett, Forbes Murray, Edward LeSaint, Edmund Cobb and Edward Peil in Starrett's SPOILERS OF THE RANGE (Columbia, 1939).
(From Old Corral collection)
Above is a 1953 re-release lobby card from the Three Mesquiteers THE NIGHT RIDERS (Republic, 1939). From left to right are Max Terhune, Ray Corrigan, John Wayne, Kermit Maynard, Ethan Laidlaw (kneeling), and grounded on the far right is Tom Tyler. Crop/blowup below showing Kermit Maynard, Ethan Laidlaw and Tom Tyler.
(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)
Above is a still from the Don Barry THE TULSA KID (Republic, 1940). From left to right are Matty Roubert, Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, Luana Walters, Ethan Laidlaw, George Douglas, Noah Beery Sr., John Beach and Jack Kirk.
(Courtesy of Ken Jones)
L-to-R are Charles Soldani (AKA Chief Soldani), Emile Avery and Ethan Laidlaw in a scene from the Charles Starrett oater, HORSEMEN OF THE SIERRAS (Columbia, 1949).