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Grant Withers

Grant Withers

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Grant Withers was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 film actor. With early beginnings in the silent era, Withers moved into talkies establishing himself with a list of headlined features as a young and handsome male lead. As his career progressed, his importance diminished, but he did manage a 10-year contract at Republic Pictures
Republic Pictures
Republic Pictures was an independent film production-distribution corporation with studio facilities, operating from 1934 through 1959, and was best known for specializing in westerns, movie serials and B films emphasizing mystery and action....

.

His friendships with both John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

 and John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

 secured him a spot in nine of Wayne's films, but later roles dwindled to supporting parts, mainly as villains in B-movie
B-movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

s, serials, and finally television.

Early life and career


Born Granville G. Withers in Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County, Colorado, United States. The population was 106,595 in 2010 census, making it the 246th most populous city in the United States....

, Wither worked as an oil company salesman and newspaper reporter before breaking into movies near the end of the silent era. His more than 30-year acting career took off in the late 1920s, while in his 20s, when his hairy-chested rugged good looks made him the leading man over such rising talent as James Cagney
James Cagney
James Francis Cagney, Jr. was an American actor, first on stage, then in film, where he had his greatest impact. Although he won acclaim and major awards for a wide variety of performances, he is best remembered for playing "tough guys." In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him eighth...

, who made his film debut in the Withers feature Sinners' Holiday
Sinners' Holiday
Sinners' Holiday is a 1930 crime drama film starring Grant Withers, Evalyn Knapp, James Cagney , Lucille La Verne, and Joan Blondell. It is based on the play Penny Arcade by Marie Baumer. Both Cagney and Blondell reprised their Broadway roles...

(1930) also starring Joan Blondell
Joan Blondell
Rose Joan Blondell was an American actress who performed in movies and on television for five decades as Joan Blondell.After winning a beauty pageant, Blondell embarked upon a film career...

 and released by Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...



Taller than John Wayne and just as tough, yet capable of sensitivity, it was his early roles for Warner Bros. that brought him his highest accolades. Withers' early work had him opposite such major talent as W. C. Fields
W. C. Fields
William Claude Dukenfield , better known as W. C. Fields, was an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer...

, Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton
Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was an American comic actor, filmmaker, producer and writer. He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".Keaton was recognized as the...

, Boris Karloff
Boris Karloff
William Henry Pratt , better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was an English actor.Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein , Bride of Frankenstein , and Son of Frankenstein...

, Mae West
Mae West
Mae West was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades....

, and Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple Black , born Shirley Jane Temple, is an American film and television actress, singer, dancer, autobiographer, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia...

.

Starring roles in major pictures later dwindled to supporting parts, mainly as villains in B-movie
B-movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

s and serials. Notable exceptions included a 12-part Jungle Jim
Jungle Jim
Jungle Jim is the fictional hero of a series of jungle adventures in various media. The series began in 1934 as an American newspaper comic strip chronicling the adventures of Asia-based hunter Jim Bradley, who was nicknamed Jungle Jim...

 movie serial (1937), starring Withers and released by Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
-1920:* White Youth* The Flaming Disc* Am I Dreaming?* The Dragon's Net* The Adorable Savage* Putting It Over* The Line Runners-1921:* The Fire Eater* A Battle of Wits* Dream Girl* The Millionaire...

, and the recurring role of the brash police Captain Bill Street in the Monogram Pictures
Monogram Pictures
Monogram Pictures Corporation is a Hollywood studio that produced and released films, most on low budgets, between 1931 and 1953, when the firm completed a transition to the name Allied Artists Pictures Corporation. Monogram is considered a leader among the smaller studios sometimes referred to...

 series Mr. Wong, starring Boris Karloff, beginning in 1938. He was under a Republic Pictures
Republic Pictures
Republic Pictures was an independent film production-distribution corporation with studio facilities, operating from 1934 through 1959, and was best known for specializing in westerns, movie serials and B films emphasizing mystery and action....

 contract from February 1944 through April 1954. Withers' film credits at Republic total about 60 films from 1937 to 1957. From 1940, he was pretty much a character actor
Character actor
A character actor is one who predominantly plays unusual or eccentric characters. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a character actor as "an actor who specializes in character parts", defining character part in turn as "an acting role displaying pronounced or unusual characteristics or...

 as a popular Western
Western (genre)
The Western is a genre of various visual arts, such as film, television, radio, literature, painting and others. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, hence the name. Some Westerns are set as early as the Battle of...

 tough guy taking numerous supporting roles in television as his demand in film work waned.

In total, he appeared in more than two hundred films.

Personal life


In 1930, at twenty-six, he eloped to Yuma, Arizona
Yuma, Arizona
Yuma is a city in and the county seat of Yuma County, Arizona, United States. It is located in the southwestern corner of the state, and the population of the city was 77,515 at the 2000 census, with a 2008 Census Bureau estimated population of 90,041....

, with 17-year-old actress Loretta Young
Loretta Young
Loretta Young was an American actress. Starting as a child actress, she had a long and varied career in film from 1917 to 1953...

. The marriage was widely reported and ended in annulment in 1931. The annulment took place just as their second movie together, ironically titled Too Young to Marry, was released. He was also married to Gladys Joyce Walsh.

Some of Withers' later screen appearances were arranged through the auspices of his friends John Ford and John Wayne. He appeared in nine movies with John Wayne, including Fort Apache
Fort Apache (film)
Fort Apache is a 1948 Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda. The film was the first of the director's "cavalry trilogy" and was followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande , both also starring Wayne...

(1948) and Rio Grande
Rio Grande (film)
Rio Grande is a 1950 Western film. It is the third installment of John Ford's "cavalry trilogy," following two RKO Pictures releases: Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon ....

(1950).

Wayne was best man at Withers' fifth marriage, to 24-year-old Cuban-born actress Estelita Rodriguez (Rio Bravo
Rio Bravo (1959 film)
Rio Bravo is a 1959 American Western film, directed by Howard Hawks. The script was written by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, based on a short story by B.H. McCampbell...

) in January 1953 in Reno, Nevada
Reno, Nevada
Reno is the county seat of Washoe County, Nevada, United States. The city has a population of about 220,500 and is the most populous Nevada city outside of the Las Vegas metropolitan area...

. They too resided in the San Fernando Valley
San Fernando Valley
The San Fernando Valley is an urbanized valley located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area of southern California, United States, defined by the dramatic mountains of the Transverse Ranges circling it...

 on Woodcliff Avenue in Sherman Oaks, California. Estelita began a nightclub singing career at the end of her Republic contract. The marriage was not a happy one. They divorced in 1955.

A noticeable weight gain is apparent in his films as his career progresses. In later years, back problems were one of his health issues.

Death


With failing health, Withers committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates on March 27, 1959. Withers left a suicide note that read:

Selected filmography

Year Title Role
1931 Other Men's Women
Other Men's Women
Other Men's Women is a 1931 American film directed by William A. Wellman and written by Maude Fulton. The film is about Bill , a railroad engineer, who falls in love with Lily , the wife of his co-worker Jack . When the two men fight over Lily, Jack is blinded. He dies in a violent storm saving...

Bill White
1935 The Fighting Marines
The Fighting Marines
The Fighting Marines is a Mascot movie serial. This was the last serial ever produced by Mascot. The studio was bought out and merged with others to become Republic Pictures...

Cpl. Larry Lawrence
1936 The Arizona Raiders
The Arizona Raiders
The Arizona Raiders is a 1936 American film directed by James P. Hogan.The film is also known as Bad Men of Arizona .- Cast :*Buster Crabbe as "Laramie" Nelson*Raymond Hatton as "Tracks" Williams...

Monroe Adams
1937 Jungle Jim
Jungle Jim
Jungle Jim is the fictional hero of a series of jungle adventures in various media. The series began in 1934 as an American newspaper comic strip chronicling the adventures of Asia-based hunter Jim Bradley, who was nicknamed Jungle Jim...

- Serial
Jim 'Jungle Jim' Bradley
1937 Bill Cracks Down
Bill Cracks Down
Bill Cracks Down is a 1937 American film directed by William Nigh. The film is also known as Men of Steel in the UK.- Cast :*Grant Withers as "Tons" Walker*Beatrice Roberts as Susan Bailey*Ranny Weeks as Bill Reardon Jr., aka Bill Hall...

"Tons" Walker
1938 Mr. Wong - Mr. Wong, Detective
Mr. Wong, Detective
Mr. Wong, Detective is a 1938 crime film directed by William Nigh and starring Boris Karloff.-Cast:* Boris Karloff - Mr. James Lee Wong* Grant Withers - Captain Sam Street* Maxine Jennings - Myra Ross, Dayton's Secretary...

Capt. William 'Bill' Street
1939 Boy's Reformatory Doctor Owens
1939 Mr. Wong - Mr. Wong in Chinatown
Mr. Wong in Chinatown
Mr. Wong in Chinatown is a 1939 American mystery film directed by William Nigh and starring Boris Karloff.-Cast:* Boris Karloff - Mr. James Lee Wong* Marjorie Reynolds - Roberta 'Bobbie' Logan * Grant Withers - Police Capt. Bill Street...

Capt. William 'Bill' Street
1939 Daughter of the Tong
Daughter of the Tong
Daughter of the Tong is a 1939 crime film about a detective that goes against a female leader of an Oriental crime ring.-Plot:Ralph Dickson is an FBI agent assigned to investigate the killing of a colleague. He is chosen to investigate due to an uncanny likeness to the presumed killer...

Ralph Dickson
1940 Mr. Wong - Fatal Hour
The Fatal Hour
The Fatal Hour is a 1940 American thriller/ crime drama film. It was directed by William Nigh, and starred Boris Karloff, Grant Withers, and Marjorie Reynolds.The film is also known as Mr. Wong at Headquarters in the United Kingdom.-Cast:...

Capt. William 'Bill' Street
1940 Mr. Wong - Doomed to Die
Doomed to Die
Doomed to Die is a 1940 horror-mystery film directed by William Nigh and starring Boris Karloff.-Cast:* Boris Karloff - James Lee Wong* Marjorie Reynolds - Roberta 'Bobbie' Logan* Grant Withers - Capt...

Capt. William 'Bill' Street
1940 Mr. Wong - Phantom of Chinatown
Phantom of Chinatown
Phantom of Chinatown is a 1940 Chinese American mystery film directed by Phil Rosen starring Keye Luke.-Plot:In the middle of a pictorial lecture on his recent expedition to the Mongolian Desert, Dr. John Benton the famous explorer, drinks from the water bottle on his lecture table, collapses and...


Capt. William 'Bill' Street
1944 The Fighting Seabees
The Fighting Seabees
The Fighting Seabees is a 1944 war film starring John Wayne and Susan Hayward. The picture portrays a heavily fictionalized account of the dilemma that led to the creation of the U.S. Navy's "Seabees" in World War II...

Whanger Spreckles
1944 The Yellow Rose of Texas
The Yellow Rose of Texas (film)
- Cast :*Roy Rogers as Roy Rogers*Trigger as Trigger Smartest Horse in the Movies*Dale Evans as Betty Weston*Grant Withers as Express Agent Lucas*Harry Shannon as Sam Weston*George Cleveland as Captain "Cap" Joe*William Haade as Buster, Roy's Sidekick...

Express Agent Lucas
1946 My Darling Clementine
My Darling Clementine
My Darling Clementine is a 1946 western movie. It was directed by John Ford, and based on the story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Earp brothers and the Clanton gang. It features an ensemble cast including Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Ward Bond, Walter Brennan, and others.The movie...

Ike Clanton
1948 Fort Apache
Fort Apache (film)
Fort Apache is a 1948 Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda. The film was the first of the director's "cavalry trilogy" and was followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande , both also starring Wayne...

Silas Meacham
1948 Wake of the Red Witch
Wake of the Red Witch
Wake of the Red Witch is a 1948 drama film from Republic Pictures starring John Wayne and Gail Russell, produced by Edmund Grainger, and based upon the novel by Garland Roark...

Capt. Wilde Youngeur
1950 Bells of Coronado
Bells of Coronado
Bells of Coronado is a 1950 American film directed by William Witney and starring Roy Rogers.- Cast :*Roy Rogers as Roy Rogers*Trigger as Roy's Horse*Dale Evans as Pam Reynolds*Pat Brady as Sparrow Biffle*Grant Withers as Craig Bennett...

Craig Bennett
1950 Rio Grande
Rio Grande (film)
Rio Grande is a 1950 Western film. It is the third installment of John Ford's "cavalry trilogy," following two RKO Pictures releases: Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon ....

Deputy Marshal

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