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Richard Dix (born Ernst Carlton Brimmer; July 18, 1893 – September 20, 1949) was an American motion picture actor who achieved popularity in both silent and sound film. 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).
Richard Dix in The Kansan (1943)
Ernst Carlton Brimmer
July 18, 1893
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||September 20, 1949 (aged 56)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)|
|Spouse(s)||Winifred Coe (1931–1933) (divorced) (1 child)|
Virginia Webster (1934–1949) (his death) (3 children)
He was educated there, 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. 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 earned him a contract with Paramount Pictures.
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 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 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, the location of which 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 years of fighting alcoholism, Dix suffered a serious heart attack on September 12, 1949, while on a train from New York to Los Angeles.[note 1][note 2] Dix died at the age of 56 on September 20, 1949. He had four children from his two marriages. One of these was the actor Robert Dix (1935–2018). Richard Dix, Sr. was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
|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|
|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|
|Unguarded Women||Douglas Albright||lost|
|Sinners In Heaven||Alan Croft||lost|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
- The book Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses says, "Richard Dix died suddenly as a result of a heart attack while on board a ship returning from France."
- The book A Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses says, "Dix ... died in Los Angeles, California, in the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital ..."
- Stephens, E. J.; Wanamaker, Marc (2014). Early Poverty Row Studios. Arcadia Publishing. p. 88. ISBN 9781439648292. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- Obituary Variety, September 21, 1949.
- "("Richard Dix" search results)". Academy Awards Database. Retrieved May 28, 2017.[permanent dead link]
- Slide, Anthony (2010). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813127084. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- Marsh, Molly (December 16, 1934). "Richard Dix---A Gentleman of the Soil". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 62. Retrieved May 26, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- The Advertiser (Adelaide), "Richard Dix Ill", 14 September 1949, p. 1
- Katchmer, George A. (2009). A Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses. McFarland. p. 96. ISBN 9781476609058. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland – via Google Books.
- "Richard Dix". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on May 28, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2017.