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Richard Dix

Richard Dix
Dix as featured on the poster for Redskin (1929).
Born Ernst Carlton Brimmer
(1893-07-18)July 18, 1893
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Died September 20, 1949(1949-09-20) (aged 56)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Occupation actor
Years active Stage 1914 — 1921
Film 1921 — 1947
Spouse(s) Winifred Coe (1931–1933)
Virginia Webster (1934–1949)

Richard Dix (July 18, 1893 – September 20, 1949) was an American motion picture actor who achieved popularity in both silent and sound film.[1] His standard on-screen image was that of the rugged and stalwart hero. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his lead role in the Best Picture-winning epic, Cimarron (1931).


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Hobbies 3
  • Death 4
  • Filmography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Dix was born Ernst Carlton Brimmer on July 18, 1893, in St. Paul, Minnesota. There he was educated, and at the desire of his father, studied to be a surgeon. His obvious acting talent in his school dramatic club led him to leading roles in most of the school plays. At 6' and 180 pounds, Dix excelled in sports, especially football and baseball. These skills would serve him well in the vigorous film roles he would go on to play. After a year at the University of Minnesota, he took a position at a bank, spending his evenings training for the stage. His professional start was with a local stock company, and this led to similar work in New York City. The death of his father left him with a mother and sister to support. He went to Los Angeles and became leading man for the Morosco Stock Company. His success there got him a contract with Paramount Pictures.


Gertrude Astor, Colleen Moore and Dix in 1922
Richard Dix in 1943

He then changed his name to Dix. After his move to Hollywood, he began a career in Western movies. One of the few actors to successfully bridge the transition from silent films to talkies, Dix's best-remembered early role was in Cecil B. Demille's silent version of The Ten Commandments (1923). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1931 for his performance as Yancey Cravat in Cimarron, in which he was top-billed over Irene Dunne. Cimarron, based on the popular novel by Edna Ferber, took the Best Picture award. Dix starred in another RKO adventure, The Lost Squadron.

A memorable role for Dix was in the 1935 British futuristic film The Tunnel. Dix starred in The Great Jasper and Blind Alibi in the late 1930s. His popular RKO Radio Pictures co-star in Blind Alibi was Ace the Wonder Dog. Dix's human co-stars were Whitney Bourne and Eduardo Ciannelli; the film was directed by Lew Landers. Dix also starred as the homicidal Captain Stone in the Val Lewton production of The Ghost Ship, directed by Mark Robson.

In 1941, Dix played Wild Bill Hickok in Badlands of Dakota and portrayed Wyatt Earp the following year in Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die, featuring Edgar Buchanan as Curly Bill Brocious.

In 1944, he starred in The Whistler, the first in a series of eight "Whistler" films made by Columbia Pictures. He also starred in the next six movies in the offbeat, crime-related series, playing a different character each time. (He did not play the "Whistler", who was an unseen narrator.) Dix retired from acting after the seventh of these films, The Thirteenth Hour. He died two years later, after suffering a heart attack at age 56.


According to the July 1934 Movies magazine, on his ranch near Hollywood, whose location he kept a close secret, Dix raised thousands of chickens and turkeys each year. He also had a collection of thousands of pipes, and a "collection" of 36 dogs, "Scotties and English setters". He also read at least five books a week.


Richard Dix first married Winifred Coe on October 20, 1931. They had a daughter, Martha Mary Ellen, and divorced in 1933. He then married Virginia Webster on June 29, 1934. They had twin boys, Richard Jr. and Robert Dix, and an adopted daughter, Sara Sue.

He retired from films in 1947.

After suffering a serious heart attack on September 12, 1949 while on a train from New York to Los Angeles[2] Dix died at the age of 56 on September 20, 1949. He was survived by four children from his two marriages. Richard Dix, Sr. was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Richard Dix has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1610 Vine Street.


Silent Films
Year Title Role Notes
1917 One of Many James Lowery lost
1921 Not Guilty Paul Ellison/Arthur Ellison lost
All's Fair in Love Bobby Cameron lost
Dangerous Curve Ahead Harley Jones lost
The Poverty of Riches John Colby lost
1922 The Glorious Fool Billy Grant lost
Yellow Men and Gold Parrish lost
Fools First Tommy Frazer lost
The Wall Flower Walt Breen lost
The Bonded Woman Lee Marvin survives; copy at Gosfilmofond
The Sin Flood Bill Bear lost
1923 The Christian John Storm extant; George Eastman House
Quicksands Lieutenant Bill lost
Souls for Sale Frank Claymore extant
The Woman with Four Faces Richard Templar lost
Racing Hearts Robby Smith lost
To the Last Man Jean Isbel survives; copy at Gosfilmofond
The Ten Commandments John McTavish extant; George Eastman, Library of Congress
The Call of the Canyon Glenn Kilbourne extant; Gosfilmofond, Library of Congress
1924 The Stranger Larry Darrant lost
Icebound Ben Jordan lost
Unguarded Women Douglas Albright lost
Sinners In Heaven Alan Croft lost
Manhattan Peter Minuit extant
Too Many Kisses Richard Gaylord, Jr extant; Library of Congress
A Man Must Live Geoffrey Farnell lost
1925 The Shock Punch Randall Lee Savage extant;Library of Congress
Men and Women Will Prescott lost
The Lucky Devil Randy Farnum extant;Library of Congress
The Vanishing American Nophaie extant;Library of Congress
Womanhandled Bill Dana extant;Library of Congress
1926 Let's Get Married Billy Dexter extant;Library of Congress
Fascinating Youth Himself (cameo) lost
Say It Again Bob Howard lost
The Quarterback Jack Stone extant;Library of Congress
1927 Paradise for Two Steve Porter lost
Knockout Reilly Dundee "Knockout" Reilly lost
Man Power Tom Roberts lost
Shanghai Bound Jim Bucklin lost
The Gay Defender Joaquin Murrieta lost
1928 Sporting Goods Richard Shelby lost
Easy Come, Easy Go Robert Parker lost
Warming Up Bert Tulliver lost; filmed in silent and Movietone sound version with music and sound effects only
Moran of the Marines Michael Moran lost
1929 The Love Doctor Dr. Gerald Summer extant; amongst the 700 Paramounts now owned by Universal
Redskin Wingfoot extant; Library of Congress; partly filmed in Technicolor
Sound films
Year Title Role Notes
1929 Nothing But the Truth Robert Bennett
The Wheel of Life Captain Leslie Yeullet
Seven Keys to Baldpate William Halliwell Magee
1930 Lovin' the Ladies Peter Darby
Shooting Straight Larry Sheldon
1931 Cimarron Yancey Cravat Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Young Donovan's Kid Jim Donovan
The Public Defender Pike Winslow
Secret Service Captain Lewis Dumont
1932 The Lost Squadron Capt. "Gibby" Gibson
Roar of the Dragon Captain Chauncey Carson
Hell's Highway Frank 'Duke' Ellis
The Conquerors Roger Standish/Roger Standish Lennox
1933 The Great Jasper Jasper Horn
No Marriage Ties Bruce Foster
Ace of Aces 2nd Lt. Rex "Rocky" Thorne
Day of Reckoning John Day
1934 Stingaree Stingaree
His Greatest Gamble Phillip Eden
West of the Pecos Pecos Smith
1935 The Arizonian Clay Tallant
The Tunnel Richard 'Mack" McAllan
1936 Yellow Dust Bob Culpepper
Special Investigator William "Bill" Fenwick
Devil's Squadron Paul Redmond
1937 The Devil's Playground Jack Dorgan
The Devil Is Driving Paul Driscoll
It Happened in Hollywood Tim Bart
1938 Blind Alibi Paul Dover
Sky Giant Capt. W.R. "Stag" Cahill
1939 Man of Conquest Sam Houston
Here I Am a Stranger Duke Allen
Reno Bill Shear
1940 The Marines Fly High Lt. Danny Darrick
Men Against the Sky Phil Mercedes
Cherokee Strip Marshal Dave Morrell
1941 The Round Up Steve Payson
Badlands of Dakota Wild Bill Hickok
1942 Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die Wyatt Earp
American Empire Dan Taylor
1943 Eyes of the Underworld The Chief, Richard Bryan
Buckskin Frontier Stephen Bent
The Kansan John Bonniwell
Top Man Tom Warren
The Ghost Ship Captain Will Stone
1944 The Whistler Earl C. Conrad
The Mark of the Whistler Lee Selfridge Nugent
1945 The Power of the Whistler William Everest
Voice of the Whistler John Sinclair (John Carter)
1946 Mysterious Intruder Don Gale
The Secret of the Whistler Ralph Harrison
1947 The Thirteenth Hour Steve Reynolds


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, September 21, 1949.
  2. ^ The Advertiser (Adelaide), "Richard Dix Ill", 14 September 1949, p. 1
  • Dix, Robert. Out of Hollywood: Two Generations of Actors. Ernest Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9822436-0-2

External links

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