Monday, July 30, 2018

Meet Tom Tyler's FBO directors


Tom Tyler worked with a total of five different directors while under contract with FBO from 1925 to 1929, the majority of them being with Robert De Lacey. Tom clearly worked well with all his directors which can be attested to in his biography, “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman. Between 1927 and 1929, Tom had four other directors before resuming work under Robert De Lacey in 1928 with “Tyrant of Red Gulch”. Tom and Robert's last film together was “The Pride of Pawnee” in 1929. Following are some brief biographical notes on these five directors and their careers.

Robert De Lacey was Tom's first director for FBO and helped launch the brand new star into an overnight star. There are two different sources regarding the dates and places of Robert's birth and death: one states he was born February 17, 1898 in Prescott, AZ, and died on July 24, 1943 in Los Angeles, CA, while IMDB states he was born on June 7, 1892 in Illinois, and died on March 3, 1976, in Los Angeles. Robert started his career in Hollywood as a film editor around 1923, and at one point, his wife assisted him in the editing process. The De Lacey couple worked together on “Mighty Lak' a Rose” (1923) for Edwin Carewe's First National Production. Robert's wife soon dropped out of the scene though, but he continued with film editing for "The Bishop of the Ozarks" (1923) for Cosmopolitan Film Company, and “Madonna of the Streets” 1924 made by Edwin Carewe Productions. It appears that Robert made his directorial debut with Tom Tyler, who made his starring debut in “Let's Go Gallagher” (1925). Robert also directed stars like Tom Mix and Patsy Ruth Miller, but by 1930, directed his last film which starred Tom Keene, “Pardon My Gun”. Unfortunately Robert's career in Hollywood seems to have ended around 1930. He was no relation to the blond moppet of silent film, Philippe de Lacy.

James Dugan directed one of two films with Tom Tyler, the first being “The Desert Pirate” in 1927. Prior to that he worked briefly worked as an actor in “Warming Up” (1928), “Night Parade” (1929), “Racket Cheers” (1930), and “Devil and the Deep” (1932). James was born on May 19, 1898 in Los Angeles, CA, and died on August 5, 1937 in Hollywood at the young age of 39 due to heart disease. He directed one other movie starring Tom Tyler, “Phantom of the Range” (1928). Exhibitor's Herald October 8, 1927 states that James was going to be the first director for “When the Law Rides” (1928) but for whatever reason, Robert De Lacey held directing honors for this movie. James started his Hollywood career at the Lasky studio as property man, then as cameraman at Fox studios. In 1927, his wife Patricia gave birth to a daughter, which may explain why his directorial career with Tom was placed on hold, which meant being an assistant director once again for awhile. James also worked as an assistant director in talkies up until his death in 1937, working on movies such as “Goin' to Town” (1935) and “Espionage” (1936).

Frank Howard Clark directed “The Texas Tornado” in 1928, but was probably better remembered for being a screen writer. Born on May 15, 1888 in Pittsburgh, PA, and died on January 19, 1962 in Los Angeles, CA, Frank wrote 130 stories, many for FBO which Tom starred in but also for other actors such as Richard Talmadge, Rex Lease, and Florence Vidor. The stories he wrote or did the screenplay for Tom Tyler are: “Tom's Gang” (1927), “Splitting the Breeze” (1927), “The Desert Pirate” (1927), “The Texas Tornado” (1928), “Phantom of the Range” (1928), “Terror Mountain” (1928), “The Avenging Rider” (1928), “Trail of the Horse Thieves” (1929), “Idaho Red” (1929), and “The Pride of Pawnee” (1929). Frank also co-wrote the famous film serial “The Hazards of Helen” (1914). He only directed a total of three movies, one of which is a silent film short, and seemes to have preferred the writing process to directing. Frank's last story was for “The El Paso Kid” in 1946 starring Sunset Carson.

Louis King directed only one Tom Tyler silent film, “Terror Mountain” (1928). Louis was born on June 28, 1898 in Christianburg, VA and died on September 7, 1962 in Los Angeles, CA. He got his start in Hollywood as a chracter actor, often portraying the heavy in silent film shorts. His acting credits include “The Printer's Devil” (1923) and “Main Street” (1923), but when it came to directing, Louis specialized in westerns during his early silent film years. Louis went on to direct for Fox Films, which includes the movies “Murder in Trinidad” (1934) with Nigel Bruce, and “Charlie Chan in Egypt” (1935) with Rita Hayworth. By 1957, Louis was directing for television, episodes of popular shows that include “Gunsmoke”, “Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color”, “Zane Grey Theatre”, “Death Valley Days”, and “Tales of Wells Fargo”. Sadly, Louis died from injuries relating to a car accident he was involved in during the month of August 1962 while in Oklahoma. His family included wife Mary, two children, Pamela and Richard, and brother Henry King, who was also a Hollywood director and producer.

Wallace Fox also directed only one film, “The Avenging Rider” (1928) which starred Tom Tyler for FBO. Wallace was born on March 9, 1895 in Purcell, OK, and died on June 30, 1958 in Hollywood, CA. He made his directorial debut with “The Bandit's Son” (1927) which starred Bob Steele. He continued to direct for the following production companies: FBO, Pathé, George W. Weeks, RKO, and Universal. “The Avenging Rider” was not the last time Wallace would direct Tom Tyler; the two worked again in “Partners of the Trail” (1931), and later on in “Powdersmoke Range” (1935). Wallace proved to be a talented director, and his career extended through the 1950's. Highlights of his directing career include the 1945 film serial "Brenda Starr, Reporter" which starred Joan Woodbury in the title role. Later on in his career, he directed episodes for the following television shows: "The Gene Autry Show", "Annie Oakley", "The Range Rider", and "Ramar of the Jungle". Wallace was married to Cleo Easton, and uncle to the actress Rita Carewe, who was the daughter of his brother Edwin Carewe. Rita was married to LeRoy Mason, who was the heavy in a number of Tom Tyler silent films, and also in the 1933 Universal film serial “The Phantom of the Air”. Wallace had one more brother in the business, Finis Fox, who was a director and writer. An interesting piece of trivia: Wallace, Edwin and Finis were all registered members of the Chickasaw tribe.






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