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Wild Bill Elliott

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posted by Truus, Bob & Jan too! alias Truus, Bob & Jan too! on Sunday 24th of March 2019 08:06:57 AM

German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 196.. Photo: Glortia Filmverleih / Republic Pictures. Wild Bill Elliott (1904-1965) was an American film actor. He specialised in playing the rugged heroes of B Westerns, particularly the Red Ryder series of films. Wild Bill Elliott or William Elliott was born Gordon Nance on a ranch near Pattonsburg, Missouri, in 1904. He was the son of Leroy Whitfield Nance and his wife, Maude Myrtle Auldridge. The young Nance grew up within twenty miles of his birthplace; he spent most of his youth on a ranch near King City, Missouri. His father was a cattle rancher and commissioner buyer for the Kansas City stockyards. Riding and roping were part of Nance's upbringing. He won first place in a rodeo event in the 1920 American Royal livestock show. He briefly attended Rockhurst College, a Jesuit school in Kansas City, but soon left for California with hopes of becoming an actor. By 1925, he was getting occasional extra work in films. He took classes at the Pasadena Playhouse and appeared in a few stage roles there. By 1927, he had made his first Western, The Arizona Wildcat, playing his first featured role. Several co-starring roles followed, and he renamed himself Gordon Elliott. But as the studios made the transition to sound films, he slipped back into roles as an extra and bit parts, as in Broadway Scandals, in 1929. For the next eight years, he appeared in over a hundred films for various studios, but almost always in unbilled parts as an extra. William Elliott began to be noticed in some minor B Westerns, enough so that Columbia Pictures offered him the title role in a 15-part serial, The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (Sam Nelson, Mack V. Wright, 1938). The serial was so successful, that Columbia promoted Elliot to starring in his own series of Western features, replacing Columbia's number-two cowboy star Robert "Tex" Allen. Henceforth Elliott would be known as Bill Elliott. Within two years, he was among the Motion Picture Herald's Top Ten Western Stars, where he would remain for the next 15 years. He became famous for using the line, "I'm a peaceable man ... ", which was inevitably followed by an outburst of violence. Elliott reached his peak of popularity at Columbia when he was teamed with Tex Ritter for a series of films. In 1943, Elliott signed with Republic Pictures, where his Westerns had somewhat larger budgets. Republic cast him in a series of Westerns alongside George 'Gabby' Hayes. The first of these, Calling Wild Bill Elliott (Spencer Gordon Bennet, 1943), gave Elliott the name by which he would be best known and by which he would be billed almost exclusively for the rest of his career. Following several films in which both actor and character shared the name Wild Bill Elliott, he took the role for which he would be best remembered, that of Red Ryder in Tucson Raiders (Spencer Gordon Bennet, 1944). A series of fifteen films about the famous comic strip cowboy and his young Indian companion, Little Beaver (Robert Blake). Elliott played the role for only two years but would forever be associated with it. Elliott's trademark was a pair of six guns worn butt-forward in their holsters. Wild Bill Elliott's career thrived during and after the Red Ryder films. He also had his own radio show during the late 1940s. In 1951. he moved to Monogram. He was now back in low-budget productions, as the B Western lost its audience to television. When Monogram became Allied Artists Pictures Corporation in 1953, it phased out its Western productions. Bill's last Western premiered in 1954. Elliott finished out his contract playing a homicide detective in a series of five modern police dramas, his first non-Westerns since 1938. His final film was Footsteps in the Night (Jean Yarbrough, 1957). Elliott made two TV Western pilots, Marshal of Trail City and Parson of the West, which were not picked up. Elliott worked for a time as a spokesman for Viceroy cigarettes and hosted a local TV program in Las Vegas, Nevada, which featured many of his Western films. Elliott was a breeder of Appaloosa horses and showed them in breeder contests. In 1927, Elliott had married Helen Josephine Meyers. Their daughter, Barbara Helen Nance, was born in, 1927. Following his retirement in 1957, he moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he bought a ranch. Elliott and his wife were divorced in 1961. He married Dolly Moore that same year. Wild Bill Elliott died there from lung cancer in 1965, aged 61. He is interred at Palm Downtown Mortuary/Cemetery in Las Vegas. Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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  • Published 10.27.21
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