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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.

Ted Lorch

Full name:
Theodore Andrew Lorch

1879 or 1880 - 1947

Note the longish nose, protruding chin, and the slicked back hair. No question that he's a slick, slippery no-good.

(Courtesy of Jack Tillmany)

Hollywood biographies on Theodore Lorch are confusing: the 1929 and 1930 editions of the Motion Picture News Blue Book have him born in Elgin, Illinois, and attending Springfield High School, Illinois and Imperial University, Russia. The 1929 Motion Picture Almanac has him born in Springfield, Illinois and parents were Katherine Girard and Andrew Lorch. Based on census data, draft registrations, and military records, Lorch was born in Elgin, Illinois on September 29, 1879 or 1880 ... or November, 1879.

Prior to his movie days, he did a significant amount of theater and stage work. And he owned and operated the Theodore Lorch Players/Theodore Lorch Stock Company. Circa 1906-1921, there are many reports in newspapers as well as the New York Clipper and Variety tradepapers on Lorch's stock company doing lengthy engagements in Spokane, Washington, San Jose, California, Salt Lake City, Utah, Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado, Little Rock, Arkansas, Passaic, New Jersey, Phoenix, Arizona, Reno, Nevada, New Orleans, Louisiana, more. During this period, he had the lead in plays based on Sherlock Holmes and Jekyl and Hyde.

The February 8, 1910 edition of The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah) had a blurb about Lorch. Excerpts from the article:

"Theodore Lorch, well known to Salt Lake theater goers for his work in stock for a number of years, on Monday purchased a half interest in the Grand theater ..."
"Mr. Lorch will have a capable company. Mrs. Lorch, known to the stage as Miss Cecil Fay, will be the leading lady ..."

His cinema career began circa 1920, and in that decade, Ted appeared in a mix of A and B grade features. There were a few silent oaters: a Buck Jones at Fox; two Ken Maynards for Grand National; and one at Universal with Jack Perrin and Rex, the Wonder Horse. One of his earliest film roles was in the 1920 version of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS - see below.

The screen capture on the left shows Harry Lorraine (as "Hawkeye") and Theodore Lorch (as "Chingachgook") in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (Maurice Tourneur Prods./Associated Exhibitors, 1920).

Yes - that bald-headed guy without a mustache is Ted Lorch. He's about forty years old and MOHICANS was one of his early movie jobs.

Playing "Magua", War Chief of the Hurons, was a youngish Wallace Beery.

From the April 9, 1921 issue of Camera! magazine, available at the Internet Archive.

Lorch successfully handled the transition to talking pictures. Les Adams has him in 80+ sound era films, and that includes 26 westerns and 8 chapterplays.

He worked frequently in B westerns starring Rex Bell (Lorch did five) and Tom Tyler (Lorch did six). And he showed up in cowboy adventures starring Tim McCoy, Ken Maynard, Kermit Maynard, Fred Scott, Hoot Gibson, Dick Foran, Bob Steele, Bill Cody, Harry Carey Sr., John Wayne, and Tom Mix. Interestingly, he did none with Gene Autry or William Boyd (as Hopalong Cassidy). He does show up in minor townsman roles in a pair of 1941 Roy Rogers Republics.

Occasionally, he was the boss baddie and a great example of Theodore Lorch at his nastiest occurs in one of Tom Tyler's best, CHEYENNE RIDES AGAIN (Victory, 1937).

Among his cliffhangers: he's escaped convict "Pierre LaFarge", one of many people thought to be the "Wolf Man", in THE LIGHTNING WARRIOR (Mascot, 1931); and he was the "mysterious cripple" in the Red Grange chapterplay THE GALLOPING GHOST (Mascot, 1931). Of his eight sound serials, Lorch (sans mustache) is probably best remembered as the High Priest in FLASH GORDON (Universal, 1936).

And lastly, who can forget Ted trying to outwit the Three Stooges in about a dozen two-reel comedy shorts beginning in 1935.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Ted Lorch, Charlie King, Rex Bell, Lex Lindsay and James Marcus in a lobby card from Bell's THE MAN FROM ARIZONA (Monogram, 1932) which is among the lost/missing westerns. Ted worked with Bell in five oaters: (FROM) BROADWAY TO CHEYENNE (Monogram, 1932), THE MAN FROM ARIZONA (Monogram, 1932), THE FUGITIVE (Monogram, 1933), THE TONTO KID (Resolute, 1935), and GUNFIRE (Resolute, 1935).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Charles 'Slim' Whitaker (without his normal moustache), Tom Tyler, Jeanne Martel (who would become Tyler's real life wife), Ted Lorch, and on the ground is Forrest Taylor in a still from Tyler's ORPHAN OF THE PECOS (Victory, 1937). In this, Taylor was the brains heavy and Lorch portrayed good guy "Professor Jeremiah Mathews" a "snake-oil salesman" and ventriloquist who helps clear Tom of a murder charge. Tyler starred in eight for Sam Katzman's Victory Pictures company and Lorch appeared in four: RIP ROARIN' BUCKAROO (Victory, 1936), CHEYENNE RIDES AGAIN (Victory, 1937), ORPHAN OF THE PECOS (Victory, 1937) and LOST RANCH (Victory, 1937). A few years earlier, Ted did a couple other Tylers - SINGLE-HANDED SANDERS (Monogram, 1932) and HONOR OF THE MOUNTED (Monogram, 1932).

His long 'stache and tall, thin build may have been fine for stage plays, silent films and early talkies. But his time as a main heavy was over by the mid 1930s. He had been displaced by guys that were more menacing, surly, and had more bulk. From that mid 1930s period through his passing in 1947, Ted's film work consisted of Columbia comedy shorts with the Three Stooges, Charley Chase, Roscoe Karns and Andy Clyde, and a mix of A and B grade features in which he picked up a days pay as a townsman, juror, etc. Following are a few examples from that later period:

In STAGECOACH (United Artists, 1939), the stage arrives in Lordsburg with John Wayne handling the reins. You may be able to make out Ted Lorch in the crowd - he has a couple lines of dialog as the uncredited express agent for the stageline.

He does a fabulous job in one of my favorite Stooge shorts, HALF-WITS HOLIDAY (Columbia, 1946). In that, he's "Professor Sedletz" who bets Vernon Dent (as "Professor Quackenbush") that he can turn the boys into gentlemen. Chaos ensues. And in the Stooges wacky western GOOFS AND SADDLES (Columbia, 1937), Ted - with his trademarked handlebar mustache - is outfitted in a cavalry hat and buckskin jacket as "General Muster" (an obvious play on the real life Custer).

Take a quick look at Ted's film listing at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). He was a busy man in the 1930s. Beginning in 1940 - when he was about sixty years old - there is a noticeable decline in his movie appearances. Was that caused by his advancing age ... or loss of popularity ... or illness ... or perhaps, he just opted to slow down?

Lorch was one of the directors of the Screen Extras Guild which was formed in 1945.

California Death Index has a record for Theodore Lorch, born September 29, 1880 in Illinois and he passed away November 11, 1947 in the Ventura, California area. Newspaper reports indicate that he died from a heart ailment.

From the November 19, 1947 issue of Variety: "Theodore A. Lorch, 74, stage and screen actor and member of the Screen Extras Guild board of directors, died Nov. 12 in Hollywood, after a long illness." ; "A native of Springfield, Ill. ..." ; "Widow survives."

He always struck me as a pretty "hammy" actor and the pattern for "Snidely Whiplash", the caped and mustached arch enemy of Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties in the Rocky and Bullwinkle animated TV series.

Theodore "Ted" Lorch is another of the familiar faces in the B western and serial.


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

THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (Maurice Tourneur Productions, 1920) is public domain and available to download or stream from YouTube and the Internet Archive:
     Internet Archive:

Can't remember ol' "Snidely Whiplash", the caped and mustached arch enemy of Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties. Go to Wikipedia:

The Three Stooges Net website includes a listing of the various cast members in the Stooges' shorts, and here's the appearances for Lorch:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has a writeup on THE GALLOPING GHOST, including some comments on Lorch who "manages to steal every scene he appears in":

Photo of Lorch and Helen Foster from the exploitation film THE ROAD TO RUIN (Willis Kent, 1934). Lorch has an uncredited role as an abortion doctor:

On the trail of Ted Lorch.

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), California Death Index, and newspaper and Hollywood tradepaper sources have information on Ted Lorch. Pay particular attention to:

1) the several wives that are listed.
2) confusion on whether he served in the military.
3) the various ages and birth dates for Lorch.

Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Lorch at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California:

For those of you with a subscription to, there are several Family trees with early photos of Ted Lorch (including posters advertising his stock company). Go to Ancestry, enter "Theodore Andrew Lorch" in the name search boxes, and then look for family trees for the Gunter-Maisenbacher-Hopkins family, the Yoggerst/Mabrey family, the Eggleston family, and the Larsen family.

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