Grant Withers

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Grant Withers

Withers circa 1930
BornGranville G. Withers
(1905-01-17)January 17, 1905
Pueblo, Colorado, U.S.
DiedMarch 27, 1959(1959-03-27) (aged 54)
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of deathSuicide
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
OccupationActor
Years active1925–1959
Spouse(s)Shirley Paschal (? - ?)
Loretta Young (1930-1931) (annulled)
Gladys Joyce Walsh (1933-?)
Estelita Rodriguez (1953-1955)
 
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Grant Withers

Withers circa 1930
BornGranville G. Withers
(1905-01-17)January 17, 1905
Pueblo, Colorado, U.S.
DiedMarch 27, 1959(1959-03-27) (aged 54)
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of deathSuicide
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
OccupationActor
Years active1925–1959
Spouse(s)Shirley Paschal (? - ?)
Loretta Young (1930-1931) (annulled)
Gladys Joyce Walsh (1933-?)
Estelita Rodriguez (1953-1955)

Grant Withers (January 17, 1905 – March 27, 1959) was an American 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.

His friendships with both John Ford and John Wayne secured him a spot in nine of Wayne's films, but later roles dwindled to supporting parts, mainly as villains in B-movies, serials, and finally television.

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Early life and career

Born Granville G. Withers in Pueblo, Colorado, 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, who made his film debut in the Withers feature Sinners' Holiday (1930) also starring Joan Blondell and released by Warner Bros.

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, Buster Keaton, Boris Karloff, Mae West, and Shirley Temple.

Starring roles in major pictures later dwindled to supporting parts, mainly as villains in B-movies and serials. Notable exceptions included a 12-part Jungle Jim movie serial (1937), starring Withers and released by Universal Pictures, and the recurring role of the brash police Captain Bill Street in the Monogram Pictures series Mr. Wong, starring Boris Karloff, beginning in 1938. He was under a Republic Pictures contract from February 1944 through April 1954. Withers' credits at Republic total about sixty films from 1937 to 1957. From 1940, he was pretty much a character actor as a popular Western tough guy taking numerous supporting roles in television as his demand in film work waned.

One of Withers' last television roles was as the wealthy rancher Sam Barton in the episode "The Return of Dr. Thackeray" of CBS's Have Gun-Will Travel. In the segment which aired May 17, 1958, lead character Paladin, played by Richard Boone, come to the assistance of a physician friend, portrayed by June Lockhart. Dr. Thackeray diagnoses a cook with smallpox and worries that the disease will infect the ranch hands when Barton refuses to permit his men to be vaccinated. Singer Johnny Western, who performed the Have Gun-Will Travel theme song, appeared in this episode as an angry gunslinger.[1]

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

Personal life

In 1930, at twenty-six, he eloped to Yuma, Arizona, with 17-year-old actress Loretta Young. 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 (1948) and Rio Grande (1950).

Wayne was best man at Withers' fifth marriage,[2] to 24-year-old Cuban-born actress Estelita Rodriguez (Rio Bravo) in January 1953 in Reno, Nevada. They too resided in the San Fernando Valley 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.[2] 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, "Please forgive me, my family. I was so unhappy. It's better this way."[2]

Selected filmography

YearTitleRole
1930Sinners' Holiday
1931Other Men's WomenBill White
1935The Fighting MarinesCpl. Larry Lawrence
1935The Test
1936The Arizona RaidersMonroe Adams
1937Jungle Jim - SerialJim 'Jungle Jim' Bradley
1937Bill Cracks Down"Tons" Walker
1938Mr. Wong - Mr. Wong, DetectiveCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1939Boy's ReformatoryDoctor Owens
1939Mr. Wong - Mr. Wong in ChinatownCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1939Daughter of the TongRalph Dickson
1940Mr. Wong - Fatal HourCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1940Mr. Wong - Doomed to DieCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1940Mr. Wong - Phantom of Chinatown

Capt. William 'Bill' Street

1944The Fighting SeabeesWhanger Spreckles
1944The Yellow Rose of TexasExpress Agent Lucas
1946My Darling ClementineIke Clanton
1948Fort ApacheSilas Meacham
1948Wake of the Red WitchCapt. Wilde Youngeur
1950Bells of CoronadoCraig Bennett
1950Rio GrandeDeputy Marshal
1955Lady Godiva of CoventryPendar

References

  1. ^ Hal Erickson, "Return of Dr. Thackeray", All Movie Guide
  2. ^ a b c Various Sources. "Estelita Rodriguez". Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. http://www.glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com/show/233/Estelita+Rodriguez/index.html/. Retrieved 2011-12-04.

External links