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Ed Phillips

(by Elizabeth Drake McDonald)


In 1998, when I began researching Bob Nolan's career in the movies, I found that a great many of the stills used in published books had been wrongly identified and production numbers had been removed.  About the same time that I was struggling with an accurate production number list for movies in which Bob Nolan appeared, Ed Phillips began this identical task but his field was huge - all the B-Western movies and other genres:


"I started the film list back in 1998 for something to do after I retired from Aerospace.  I spent every day, except Sundays, for a little over a year at a shop near Thousand Oaks, California pouring over movie stills looking for still numbers.  Then right after my heart operation a friend gave me his still collection to go thru.  That took another 4 months.  Then as word got around I got more stuff.  The Universal book and the Warner book came from someone else.  I also got scraps from others on First National, Republic, Monogram, Essanay and others.  Some authors, but not all, have decided that when they do filmographys [sic] to include still/production numbers."


Ed sent me scans to add to my collection of Sons of the Pioneers photos as he came across them and I sent him what I found. We eventually found enough stills with the movie information printed on the bottom to put together a list of production numbers I could trust.


In the summer of 2000, Ed started a database for the owner of his favorite movie photo place in Westlake Village, CA, and entered everything he could find about every B-Western movie still there (11,400 titles). He kept a copy for his own records and sent a copy to me and to other of his collector friends. At the end of this page, I have included a few of these non-Pioneers prints with his comments. Regretfully, it would be impossible to post his even a fraction of his entire collection. 





Ed was born in Pennsylvania, "I was in the Air Force stationed on a radar site in Williams Lake, BC, back in the 50's when Canada and the United States had joint radar sites. Back then, it was pretty remote, not only cowboy country but Indian country as well." When I knew him, he lived in the Simi Valley, California, and attended every vintage film festival he could. He went to the Hollywood Memorabilia Show every couple of months to look at and makes notes of the many photographs plus get autographs from the movie stars that also attended. Ruth Terry was his all-time favourite.



Ed attended the gatherings at the Iverson Movie ranch, Cinecon in Hollywood, the Western Celebrity Gala at Laughlin, Nevada, and the Lone Pine Festival, to name a few. He liked to dress in costume and I asked him what he wore.


"I dress in black when I'm in costume. That is, a black hat, a black shirt, a black vest, a black kerchief, black pants, black boots and no spurs. My gun belt is black and I don't have white grips on my six-shooters. If I had a horse it would be black and the saddle and riggings would be black with no silver. The idea is not to be seen at night while out doing night time stuff...either good or bad. And if some one was after you it would be easier to hide in the dark. Why would anyone do what Durango did and ride a white horse? It was good for the movies I guess. The boots come from Olathe Boot company. They were the last of the hand made boot people. Sometime ago they went out of business and then someone bought the company. I think you can still get them."



"World championship cowboy shoot-out at Norco, CA in March and there is an attempt to have a Corriganville Movie Ranch reunion in July.  I'll be helping at both of these.  Just keeping busy. "



Early in 2001 he wrote, "Another month and a half and it will be time for the Lone Pine film festival.  It's the year of the horses.  Been putting together a batch of pictures of film horses.  Problem is I don't know all the names. "


 By April 2, 2001, Ed had cataloged about 27,000 movie stills covering the very beginning to 1998. A month later, he wrote that he had added another thousand.  Ill health and surgery slowed him down but didn't stop him from working on his hobby:


 "The day before our Thanksgiving I took a stress echo test.  That's an EKG, treadmill test with pictures and I failed.  Looked like a muscle in my heart wasn't working too well.  On Monday of last week, I underwent an angiogram and we found 4 clogged arteries.  I opted to go the bypass route rather than angioplasty.  On Tuesday Nov 27, 2001 they did a quad by-pass." 


Then B-Western historian, Packy Smith, lent him Western stills allowed him to scan all he wanted.


"Packy loaned me two tubs of stills (a couple of thousand) and I'm trying to scan them. Have added about a thousand new still numbers to the project. I filled two CD's with his images." 


"Saturday, January 26, 2002 9:32 AM I finished scanning Packy's stills.   There were close to 2,000 of them and I don't care if I ever see another still for a long time.   Now it's time to start on the Western Data Base update."


Ed continued to attend the gatherings he loved. Here are two excerpts from his letters to me:

"Tuesday, April 23, 2002 9:46 AM Spent the week, last week, at the Single Action Shooting Society's End Of Trail.  It started on Wednesday and finished on Sunday.  My tail is dragging and my bones are hurting. "

"August 18, 2002 Went to the Golden Boot pre party a week ago.  Lots of fun and music.  Rusty Richard did about 30 minutes of SOP music with his group.  They sound pretty good.  Must have been a dozen or so musical groups.  We got there at 6PM and departed at midnight; they were going strong.  Lots of movie stars were there including a few from the Italian westerns."



A note on key book or production still numbers:


At times I found a conflict between the action in the photograph and the number on the bottom. I found this frustrating so I asked him why this should be. I was counting on accuracy for several reasons: to prove Bob Nolan was in each film, to see which members of the Sons of the Pioneers were present at the time of shooting, etc. My biography of Bob Nolan had to be accurate and I could not simply quote other writers or go on guesswork. Also, many of the Charles Starrett /  Sons of the Pioneers movies are not out on videocassette or DVD yet. Here is Ed's reply:


"The only thing I ever heard was that a person could be fired for putting a wrong number on a still.  Here is my take, especially with Columbia stills.  I believe that a still that shows a scene from a film probably has an accurate number assigned to it.  When it comes to a non-scene shot, such as a publicity shot, such as the two in your other email, they just go to files and pick out a photograph and label it with whatever film the are releasing.  The Starrett picture of him in non-western wear probably is from "Law of the Plains" since that is the number etched into the picture.  It appears that the western wear Starrett is also from "Law of the Plains" by the etched number and then re-labeled "The Thundering West".  I fell into this whole trap the year I spent going through pictures at my friends shop.  I was finding far too many duplicate numbers for different Columbia films.  I still have some in my list because I haven't found a scene photo for verification.  Also in the early years at Columbia, Columbia would repeat the numbers every year.  This went on for 4 or 5 years, especially their western series of films."


"Paramount also has a unique feature for it's stills.  A lot of Paramount stills may have two numbers assigned to them, an east coast number and a west coast number.  In addition to a standard number Harry Sherman also had a number assigned to some of his stills.  I have not found a way to determine which numbers were east coast and which were west coast.  Most of the Hoppy films have a standard Paramount number plus a Harry Sherman number."





The Rocky Mountaineers



Slightly Static

Gold Star Rangers 1935

Way Up Thar


Way Up Thar


Way Up Thar


Gold Star Rangers 1936




Old Wyoming Trail 1937


Law of the Plains 1938


Ray Whitley


Ray Whitley


Colorado Trail 1938


Texas Stampede 1939


North of the Yukon 1939


Spoilers of the Range 1939


Spoilers of the Range 1939


Western Caravans 1939


Stranger from Texas 1939


Stranger from Texas 1939


Two-Fisted Rangers 1940


Two-Fisted Rangers 1940


Two-Fisted Rangers 1940




Blazing Six Shooters 1940




Roy Rogers and Adrienne Ames, New York City


Hugh Farr 1940


Lloyd Perryman 1940


Bob Nolan 1940


West of Abilene 1940


Red River Valley 1942




Roy Rogers on location 1942


Man from Cheyenne 1942


South of Santa Fe 1942


South of Santa Fe 1942


South of Santa Fe 1942




Call of the Canyon 1942






c 1943


King of the Cowboys 1943




Song of Texas 1943




Hands across the Border 1944






Yellow Rose of Texas 1944




Utah 1945


Utah 1945




Man from Oklahoma 1945


Man from Oklahoma 1945


Don't Fence Me In 1945


Don't Fence Me In 1945




Rainbow Over Texas 1946


Rainbow Over Texas 1946


Under Nevada Skies 1946


Roll On Texas Moon 1946




Springtime in the Sierras 1947






Pecos Bill 1948


"Pecos Bill" from Melody Time, 1948


Sons of the Pioneers 1955







PHOTOS - without the Pioneers





Columbia apparently had a quirk in it's still numbers when it came to it's western series. The RA in the still number refers to Bob Allen (Robert Allen). They did the same thing with other i.e., Jack Holt. The other is that the fellow that is having such a good time and holding the guitar is Hal Taliaferro. And also that it's in the data base, so I've come across a still from the same movie before. No idea who the western group is, except that a member of the cast is Cactus Mack. Cactus Mack was a relative of Rex Allen and came to Hollywood originally with his band of musicians. I don't know if this is the same group or not. I don't see Cactus Mack in the still. OK, it's my turn. Here's a Charles Starrett photo that I can't identify. Still number is a Columbia D-3040-45. I should recognize the girl, but I can't. What say you?



I took Larry's suggestion and borrowed Rainey's "Sweethearts of the Sage" from a friend. I made a list of all the Starrett still numbers that I have, including all of yours, and eliminated all titles that I have numbers for. Then I checked out all the leading ladies in the remaining films. Lo and behold, on Page 428 of Rainey's book is a picture of Nancy Saunders who looks quite a bit like the girl in the photo. The film is quite possibly "Law of the Canyon". Now I must find another still to confirm it. Rainey doesn't have anything on Paula Raymond or Marjorie Stapp. I need to find another reference.



Here's a Starrett that you might like. The still is punctured with pinholes but looks pretty good. It's Riding West (D-376-25). I can recognize l-r Johnny Bond, Shirley Patterson, Charles Starrett and Steve Clark. I don't recognize the guys in the background although Ernest Tubb, Cal Schrum and Wesley Tuttle are in the film. The guy between Charles Starrett and Steve Clark could be Tubb. [Ernest Tubb is partially seen in the checked shirt behind Starrett.]



Here's a still that might interest you. Landrush (1946). What is interesting are the three guys in this still other than Smiley and Starrett. They are l-r Eddie Kirk, Tuckie Kronenbold and Scotty Hurrell. Since I don't find them in the cast credits and I don't have the film, my assumption is that they may be the Colorado Rangers. Ed



Here is the picture I have of Joe Yrigoyen taken circa 1961 for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Rodeo.  He participated in a chuckwagon race with two other Hollywood Stuntmen, Edward Jauregui and Jerry Brown.


The Roy Rogers Riders




Goldmine in the Sky 1938


Billy the Kid Returns 1938




Trail to Laredo 1948


The Golden Stallion 1948


Penny Edwards and Roy Rogers 1950