Wild Bill Elliott (1904 – 1965) specialized in playing the rugged heroes of B-Westerns, particularly in the Red Ryder series of films.
Elliott began to be noticed in some minor B-Westerns, enough so that Columbia Pictures offered him the title role in a serial, The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1938)[see serial below], which was successful enough that Columbia offered him a contract as a leading man. Within two years, Elliott, whom Columbia president Harry Cohn had renamed Bill Elliott, was among the Motion Picture Herald's Top Ten Western Stars, where he would remain for the next fifteen years.
In 1943, Elliott signed with Republic Pictures, which cast him in a series of Westerns alongside George 'Gabby' Hayes. The first of these, Calling Wild Bill Elliott, gave Elliott the name by which he would best be 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," the actor took over the role for which he would be best remembered, that of Red Ryder [see movie below] in a series of sixteen movies about the famous comic strip cowboy and his young Indian companion Little Beaver (played in Elliott's films by Bobby 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.
Elliott's career thrived during and after the Red Ryder films, and he continued making B-Westerns into the early 1950s. He also had his own radio show during the late 1940s. His final contract as a Western star was with Monogram Pictures, where budgets declined as the B-Western lost its audience to television. When Monogram became Allied Artists Pictures Corporation in 1953, it phased out its Western productions, and Elliott finished out his contract with a series of modern police dramas, his first non-Westerns since 1938.
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1. The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok - Bill Elliott (1938)
The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1938) is a Columbia 15 Chapter movie serial. It was their first western serial. Bill (or Gordon) Elliott got his movie nick name “Wild Bill Elliott“, from this serial and in several movies after that. For a while, though, he became William Elliott when Republic moved him up from B-westerns to its higher-budgeted films.
Wild Bill Hickok (Bill Elliott) , U.S. Marshal in Abilene, Kansas, is sent to stop the mysterious "Phantom Riders" from disrupting the cattle drives across the Chisholm Trail and construction of a new railroad. The Phantom Raiders is a gang of renegades raiding the cattle drives over the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Abilene. Hickok organizes the boys of the town into the "Flaming Arrows" to assist him. Finally, in the 15th chapter, Hickok, the "Flaming Arrows" and army scout Kit Lawson (Kermit Maynard) combine to put an end to the Phantom Raiders.
2. Overland with Kit Carson - Bill Elliott (1939)
A 15 Chapter Movie Serial from Columbia Pictures.
Western settlers are being driven off their homesteads and ranches by a combination of Indian raids and attacks by bands of mysterious outlaws. The government sends out famed Indian scout Kit Carson (Bill Elliott) and army officer David Brent (Richard Fiske) to investigate, and Carson discovers that a villain named Pegleg controls an outlaw gang called the Black Raiders, and is using them and the Indians to drive out the settlers so he can establish his own empire. He determines to set a trap to expose the identity of Pegleg while avoiding traps and ambushes that Pegleg is setting for him.
3. Valley of Vanishing Men - Bill Elliott (1942)
A 15 Chapter Movie Serial from Columbia Pictures
Wild Bill Tolliver (Bill Elliott) and Missouri Benson (Slim Summerville) are a pair of adventurers who ride into the vast territory of New Mexico in search of Bill's father, Henry Tolliver (Rick Anderson), who mysteriously disappeared while prospecting for gold. They soon discover that a ruthless outlaw leader, Jonathan Kincaid (Ken MacDonald), owns an immense mine of gold in which he uses captured Mexican patriots, between others, to work as slaves in the mine. They also learn that Kincaid has joined forces with Carl Engler, a renegade European general, to carry out his cruel intentions. Then, Bill and Missouri meet with Consuelo Ramirez (Carmen Morales), a diligent Mexican agent, who informs them that Bill's father is among the prisoners in the mine. After that, the heroes find themselves in a conflict with the outlaws in the middle of incessant fights, chases and action. After freeing his father, Bill sets out to smash both the slave-mine operation and Engler's attempts to overthrow Benito Juarez, the legal president of Mexico.
1a. Red Ryder in The San Antonio Kid - Wild Bill Elliott (1944)
A geologist has found oil on the neighboring ranches and teams up with Ace Hanlon (Glenn Strange) who has his gang create a reign of terror to get the ranchers to sell out. But to get rid of Red Ryder (Wild Bill Elliott), Ace sends for the San Antonio Kid (Duncan Renaldo). Arriving, the Kid has a freak accident and Red comes along to save his life. When the Kid later meets with Ace he learns that Red is the man he has been paid to kill. Robert Blake plays Little Beaver.
1b. Red Ryder in Conquest of Cheyenne (1946) - Bill Elliott - Red Ryder has to help bring in an oil well on Jackson's ranch. Tom Dean found the oil and has started a well. But banker Tuttle hopes to foreclose on the Jackson ranch and has the oil rig burned down.
2. The Last Bandit (1949) - Bill Elliott [Color] - About to marry Jim Plummer (Forest Tucker), Kate Foley (Lorna Grey) runs off to Nevada when Ed Bagley (Grant Withers) convinces her a quick fortune can be made robbing gold shipments that are being transported by the railroad. In Bannock City she meets reformed-bandit Frank Plummer (Bill Elliott), posing as Frank Norris, brother of Jim Plummer, who has being going straight and working as an express shipment guard. Jim also shows up and plans a robbery by stealing a train and hiding it in an abandoned tunnel. The two brothers are on opposite sides of the law with the now-reformed Kate caught in the middle.
3. Hellfire (1949) - Bill Elliott [Color] - Zeb Smith (Bill Elliott) is a gambler with a larcenous streak, but when an itinerant preacher takes a bullet meant for him, Zeb vows to fulfill the preacher's mission of building a church. Frustrated in his attempts to get donations, Zeb attempts to capture fugitive Doll Brown (Marie Windsor) in order to obtain the reward. But he finds that there's more to Doll than meets the eye. When his old friend Bucky McLean (Forrest Tucker) shows up gunning for Doll, Zeb sees a chance to redeem them all... one way or another.
4. Savage Horde (1950) - Bill Elliott - John "Ringo" Baker (Bill Elliott) shoots an Army Captain in New Mexico in self defense and his brother, Lieutenant Mike Baker (Jim Davis) is charged with bringing him in. Ringo is on his way to Utah to see Livvy Weston (Adrian Booth) and has an encounter with the U.S.Cavalry patrol led by his brother, and wounds Mike in making his escape. He arrives in the town of Gunlock and befriends Glenn Larrabee (Noah Beery Jr). , owner of a small ranch whose property, and that of the other ranchers, is coveted by Wade Proctor (Grant Withers). Ringo becomes Glenn's partner and organizes the small ranchers to fight against Proctor, who sends a fast-draw, hired gunman, Dancer (Bob Steele), gunning for Ringo, who also has his brother and the Army closing in on him.
5. Plainsman and the Lady (1946) -William Elliott - St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1859, is divided by a railroad track that separates the richer and poorer classes of people. From the richer side comes Ann Arnesen (Vera Ralston), daughter of Michael Arnesen, owner of the Pony Express. Michael hires Sam Colton (Bill Elliot) to protect his pony line from hostile Indians and the attacks of the gang of Peter Marquette, owner of a stagecoach line who fears losing his contracts to the pony riders. Sam finds himself in a difficult position because Michael's wife, Cathy, is in love with Marquette. [Added]
6. Bitter Creek (1954) Bill Elliott - As Clay Tindall (Bill Elliott as Wild Bill Elliott), comes to a town in a search for the killer of his brother and quickly becomes unpopular with the townspeople who are unwillingly but submissive subjects to the whims of local cattleman Quentin Allen (Carleton Young) and his motley gang of hired hands and henchies. At the end, Elliott is given a typical line from his Columbia and Republic days that indicates that killing for revenge isn't admirable or the right thing to do, although he has just finished a rather thorough job of doing just that. [Added]
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