Roy Barcroft (born Howard Harold Ravenscroft; September 7, 1902 – November 28, 1969) was an American character actor famous for playing villains in B-Westerns and other genres. From 1937 to 1957, he appeared in more than 300 films for Republic Pictures. Film critic Leonard Maltin acclaimed Barcroft as "Republic Pictures' number one bad guy".
Howard Harold Ravenscroft
September 7, 1902
|Died||November 28, 1969 (aged 67)|
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Other names||Big Roy, Roy Bancroft, Howard Clifford Ravenscroft|
|Occupation||Film, stage, television actor|
Barcroft was born to a farming family in Crab Orchard, Nebraska, in 1902. In 1917, at the age of 15, he joined the United States Army during World War I to fight in France, where he was wounded in action. After leaving the military, he drifted through several jobs (including ranch hand, roughneck, railroad worker and seaman) before reenlisting and being stationed in Hawaii.
After leaving the Army for the second time, he played clarinet and saxophone for dance bands around Chicago until he and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1929.
In 1929, he moved to California and worked as an extra and as a salesman. He was discovered while acting in an amateur theatre production, a hobby which he took up to improve his speaking voice as a salesman. He appeared in the film serials Flash Gordon (1936), The President's Mystery (1936), and S.O.S. Coast Guard. He worked for many different studios in the years that followed until 1943, when he signed an exclusive 10-year contract with Republic. Under this contract, he starred in almost 150 films and film serials, becoming instantly recognized as the villain to the audiences of the day.
His career slowed with the decline of B-Westerns, but he found work in television and B-movies during the 1950s and 1960s. From 1954 to 1956, Barcroft appeared in different roles in eight episodes of the syndicated western series Annie Oakley. He also played the bit role of the marshal in the 1955 film adaptation of Oklahoma!. That same year he appeared as the Marshal in the western movie The Spoilers. Between 1955 and 1957 he played Col. Jim Logan, the kindly owner of the Triple-R Boys' Ranch, in the serial Spin and Marty, seen on television's Mickey Mouse Club. A DVD version of the 1955 season, The Adventures of Spin & Marty, was released in 2005 as part of the Walt Disney Treasures series.
In 1960, he played the role of “George Farr” (a hired killer) on James Arness’s TV Western Series Gunsmoke in the episode “Say Uncle” (S4E4). On May 23, 1961, Barcroft played Doc Longley in the episode "Badge of the Outsider" on the television western series Laramie, playing a retired outlaw framed for the murder of the deputy sheriff in Laramie. He appeared in a 1961 episode, "Heat Wave," of the adventure drama series Straightaway. Barcroft was cast in the 1967 episode "Halo for a Badman" of the syndicated western series, Death Valley Days, as the mayor of Las Animas, Colorado.
The Internet Movie Data Base records 365 roles throughout his career, including the syndicated Sheriff of Cochise with John Bromfield, the CBS military sitcom/drama Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper, and NBC's National Velvet, Riverboat, and Empire.
In the film-focused newspaper Classic Images, Laura Wagner wrote that Barcroft's work as a voice actor is often overlooked. She commented, "Barcroft can be heard in movies and on TV as narrators, radio operators, announcers, and various stray voices."
Barcroft married Vera Thompson in 1932, and they had two children.
- The Frontiersmen (1938)
- Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938, Serial) - Martian Soldier [Ch. 2] (uncredited)
- Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940, Serial) - Ming's Soldier [Ch 6, 10–12] / Arborian Sentry [Ch 6] (uncredited)
- Man from Texas (1939)
- Trailing Double Trouble (1940)
- The Bandit Trail (1941)
- The Lone Rider in Cheyenne (1942)
- Hoppy Serves a Writ (1943)
- Canyon City (1943)
- Sheriff of Sundown (1944)
- Call of the South Seas (1944)
- Girls of the Big House (1945)
- Along the Navajo Trail (1945)
- The Purple Monster Strikes (1945)
- Sunset in El Dorado (1945)
- Oregon Trail Scouts (1947)
- Vigilantes of Boomtown (1947)
- The Wild Frontier (1947)
- Wyoming (1947)
- The Bold Frontiersman (1948)
- The Far Frontier (1948)
- Oklahoma Badlands (1948)
- Renegades of Sonora (1948)
- Frontier Investigator (1949)
- The Dakota Kid (1951)
- Radar Men from the Moon (1953; Commando Cody/Rocketman series)
- Down Laredo Way (1953)
- Man Without a Star (1955)
- Oklahoma! (1955)
- The Spoilers (1955)
- Band of Angels (1957) as Gillespie
- Bandolero! (1968)
- Monte Walsh (1970)
- Exploring Nebraska Highways: Trip Trivia. Exploring America's Highway. 2007. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-9744358-7-9.
- "Roy Barcroft Biography (1902-1969)". Film Reference. Archived from the original on September 27, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- Varner, Paul (2009). The A to Z of Westerns in Cinema. Scarecrow Press. pp. 16–17. ISBN 9780810870512. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- Leonard Maltin (December 2005). The Adventures of Spin and Marty (DVD). Walt Disney Treasures.
- Boggs, Johnny D. (2013). Billy the Kid on Film, 1911-2012. McFarland. p. 161. ISBN 9780786465552. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
- Mayer, Geoff (2017). Encyclopedia of American Film Serials. McFarland. pp. 43–44. ISBN 9781476627199. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
- Wagner, Laura (August 2017). "Roy Barcroft: King of the Badmen". Classic Images (506): 30–31.