Richard Martin (actor)

(Redirected from Richard Martin (RKO actor))

Richard Martin (December 12, 1917 – September 4, 1994) was an American actor. He was best known for his role as Chito Rafferty, the Irish-Mexican western comedy relief sidekick of Tim Holt and Robert Mitchum, among others. Before their pairing, Martin originated the role in the 1943 film Bombardier.


Though born in Spokane, Washington, Martin's family moved to a Mexican neighbourhood in West Hollywood, California, where he learned to imitate his friends.[1] He began in films by working as a receptionist for MGM.[2] When a friend made a bet with his agent that the agent couldn't get Martin an actor's contract, Martin's agent won the bet.[3] He became a prolific contract player for RKO Pictures in 1942, often appearing unbilled.

Hollywood's World War II films often featured many ethnic American enlisted men, and Martin first played Chito Rafferty as a contemporary air crewman in Bombardier. He soon repeated the role in the western Nevada opposite Robert Mitchum. He appeared opposite a few other stars in RKO westerns.[4]

After the war, Martin left RKO and essayed the main role in the last Universal Pictures film serial The Mysterious Mr. M as well as the title role in the 1947 Cinecolor western The Adventures of Don Coyote. When Tim Holt, back from the war, was hired by producer Herman Schlom to star in a western series, the two pondered whom they could get for a sidekick, and Schlom recalled Martin's Rafferty character from Nevada.[5] Martin returned to RKO in the same year in his first appearance alongside Holt in Under the Tonto Rim, the first of 29 films they did together that were initially based on stories by Zane Grey.

As B westerns and exclusive studio contracts gradually ended in the 1950s, Martin found himself out of work and unable to find any due to his ethnic characterisation. He became an insurance salesman, coming back for one last western, Four Fast Guns, in 1960.

Chito RaffertyEdit

Martin originated the Mexican-Irish character of Chito Rafferty, whose full name was "Chito Jose Gonzales Bustamonte Rafferty", in 1943's war film Bombardier. The character went on to appear in a further 34 films, all of them westerns: 1944's Nevada and 1945's West of the Pecos, both of which starred Robert Mitchum; 1945's Wanderer of the Wasteland, which starred James Warren; 1946's Sunset Pass and 1947's Code of the West, in which the role was not played by Martin but by John Laurenz; then a further 29 films, all of which featured Chito Rafferty as the sidekick to a different hero, always played by Tim Holt: Thunder Mountain, Under the Tonto Rim and Wild Horse Mesa in 1947, Western Heritage, The Arizona Ranger, Guns of Hate, Indian Agent and Gun Smugglers in 1948, Brothers in the Saddle, Riders of the Range, Rustlers, Stagecoach Kid, The Mysterious Desperado and Masked Raiders in 1949, Storm Over Wyoming, Rider from Tucson, Dynamite Pass, Border Treasure, Rio Grande Patrol and Law of the Badlands in 1950, Saddle Legion, Gunplay, Pistol Harvest, Hot Lead and Overland Telegraph in 1951, and Trail Guide, Road Agent, Target and Desert Passage in 1952. The character, particularly in the films with Tim Holt's character, was presented as a loyal sidekick and ladies' man who was afraid to commit to long term relationships with the women to whom he was attracted.

Personal lifeEdit

Martin met his wife, former fashion model and actress Elaine Riley, on a film set in Carmel, where a scheduled four-day shoot stretched to three weeks because of fog[6] He was married to Elaine Riley from 1946 until his death. They worked together only once, in Rider from Tucson (1950), but were regarded as one of Hollywood’s happiest couples.[7] When Howard Hughes cancelled Martin’s contract at RKO in 1953, he left Hollywood to set up an insurance business. The couple had no children.


The Irish in me is for fight; the Mexican for love


Year Title Role Notes
1942 Call Out the Marines Marine Corporal in Café Uncredited
1942 Mexican Spitfire at Sea Steward Uncredited
1942 My Favorite Spy Nightclub Patron Uncredited
1942 The Mayor of 44th Street Office Clerk Uncredited
1942 Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost Epping's Chauffeur Uncredited
1942 Thundering Hoofs Man at Dance Uncredited
1942 The Big Street Minor Role Uncredited
1942 The Falcon's Brother Steamship Official Uncredited
1942 Army Surgeon Soldier-Patient Uncredited
1942 Seven Days' Leave Soldier Uncredited
1942 Seven Miles from Alcatraz Second Radio Operator Uncredited
1942 Red River Robin Hood Robbed Rancher's Son Uncredited
1943 Hitler's Children Gestapo Man Uncredited
1943 Ladies' Day Sox Player Uncredited
1943 Bombardier Chito Rafferty
1943 The Leopard Man Raoul Belmonte Uncredited
1943 The Falcon in Danger George Morley
1943 The Adventures of a Rookie Bob Prescott
1943 The Iron Major David 'Davie' Cavanaugh
1943 Gangway for Tomorrow Jules Uncredited
1943 Tender Comrade Mike Dumbrowski
1944 Marine Raiders Pfc. Jimmy Fowler
1944 Nevada Chito Rafferty
1945 Having Wonderful Crime Lance Richards
1945 Wanderer of the Wasteland Chito Rafferty
1945 West of the Pecos
1946 The Bamboo Blonde Jim Wilson
1946 The Mysterious Mr. M Detective Lieutenant Kirby Walsh
1947 The Adventures of Don Coyote Don Coyote
1947 Thunder Mountain Chito Rafferty
1947 Under the Tonto Rim Chito Rafferty
1947 Wild Horse Mesa Chito Rafferty
1948 Western Heritage Chito Rafferty
1948 The Arizona Ranger Chito Rafferty
1948 Guns of Hate Chito Rafferty
1948 Indian Agent Chito Rafferty
1948 Gun Smugglers Chito Rafferty
1949 Brothers in the Saddle Chito Rafferty
1949 Rustlers Chito Rafferty
1949 Stagecoach Kid Chito Rafferty
1949 Masked Raiders Chito Rafferty
1949 The Mysterious Desperado Chito Rafferty
1950 Riders of the Range Chito Rafferty
1950 Dynamite Pass Chito Rafferty
1950 Storm Over Wyoming Chito Rafferty
1950 Rider from Tucson Chito Rafferty
1950 Border Treasure Chito Rafferty
1950 Rio Grande Patrol Chito Rafferty
1951 Law of the Badlands Chito Rafferty
1951 Saddle Legion Chito Rafferty
1951 Gunplay Chito Rafferty
1951 Pistol Harvest Chito Rafferty
1951 Hot Lead Chito Rafferty
1951 Overland Telegraph Chito Rafferty
1952 Trail Guide Chito Rafferty
1952 Road Agent Chito Rafferty
1952 Target Chito Rafferty
1952 Desert Passage Chito Rafferty
1952 The Raiders Felipe de Ortega
1957 Hell Bound Dock Worker Uncredited
1960 Four Fast Guns Quijano (final film role)


  1. ^ "Richard Martin | Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos".
  2. ^ "Richard Martin".
  3. ^ "Richard Martin, 75, Actor in Westerns". The New York Times. 7 September 1994.
  4. ^ "Tim Holt and the B Western".
  5. ^ p.187 Rothel, David Those Great Cowboy Sidekicks 1984 Scarecrow Press
  6. ^ "Archives".
  7. ^ "Elaine Riley, actress - obituary".

External linksEdit