Grant Withers

Granville G. Withers (January 17, 1905 – March 27, 1959) was an American film actor. With early beginnings in the silent era, Withers moved into sound films establishing himself with a list of headlined features as a young and handsome male lead. "As his career progressed,...his importance diminished, but he did manage a 10-year contract with Republic.[1]

Grant Withers
Withers (c. 1930)
Granville G. Withers

(1905-01-17)January 17, 1905
DiedMarch 27, 1959(1959-03-27) (aged 54)
Cause of deathSuicide by barbiturates
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Years active1925–1959
Spouse(s)Shirley Paschal
(m. 192?; div. 192?)
Loretta Young
(m. 1930; annul. 1931)

Gladys Joyce Walsh
(m. 1933; div. 19??)
Estelita Rodriguez
(m. 1953; div. 1955)

His friendships with both John Ford and John Wayne secured him a spot in nine of Wayne's films, but later roles dwindled to supporting roles, mainly as villains in B-movies, serials, and television.

Early life and career

"Born in Pueblo, Colorado, Withers worked as an oil company salesman and newspaper reporter before breaking into films near the end of the silent era."[1] His more-than-30-year acting career took off in the late 1920s. While in his 20s, his hairy-chested rugged good looks made him a leading man over rising talent James Cagney in Other Men's Women (1931).

The comedy short So Long Bill (1926) marked Withers' film debut.[2]

His early roles for Warner Brothers brought him his highest accolades. Withers' early work had him opposite actors such as W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton, Boris Karloff, Mae West, and Shirley Temple. Appearing in The Red-Haired Alibi (1932) with Temple, he played the role of her first on-screen parent.

Starring roles in major pictures later dwindled to supporting parts, mainly as villains in B-movies and serials. Notable exceptions included a 12-part Jungle Jim movie serial (1937), starring Withers and released by Universal Pictures and the recurring role of the brash police captain Bill Street in the Monogram Pictures series Mr. Wong, starring Boris Karloff, beginning in 1938. He was under a Republic Pictures contract from February 1944 through April 1954. Withers' credits at Republic total about 60 films from 1937 to 1957.

After 1940, he was a character actor and tough guy In Westerns. He took numerous supporting roles in television as his popularity in films waned. He guest-starred as baseball coach Whitey Martin in the 1956 episode "The Comeback" on Crossroads. He was cast as Gus Andrews and Miles Breck, respectively, in two episodes titled "The time for All Good Men" (1957) and "King of the Frontier" (1958) on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O'Brian.

In 1958, Withers portrayed the wealthy rancher Sam Barton in the episode "The Return of Dr. Thackeray" of Have Gun - Will Travel. In the segment, lead character Paladin, played by Richard Boone, comes to the assistance of a physician friend portrayed by June Lockhart. Dr. Thackeray diagnoses a cook with smallpox and worries that the disease will infect the ranch hands when Barton refuses to permit his men to be vaccinated. Singer Johnny Western, who performed the Have Gun - Will Travel theme song, appeared in this episode as an angry gunslinger. Withers also appeared in two other Have Gun – Will Travel episodes.[3] That year, he played Charles Stewart Brent, owner of the Brent Building in Los Angeles, where Perry Mason had his office, and the defendant in the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Gilded Lily."

In 1959, shortly before his death, Withers was cast in the episode "Feeling His Oats" on the children's western series Fury, starring Peter Graves and Bobby Diamond. He also appeared that year as Sheriff Charlie Clayton in the episode "A Matter of Friendship" in John Bromfield's crime drama U.S. Marshal. His last role, also in 1959, was as Ed Martin in "The Ringer" of the Rory Calhoun western series The Texan.

In total, Withers appeared in some 200 film and television roles.

Personal life

In 1930, at 26, he eloped to Yuma, Arizona with 17-year-old actress Loretta Young. The marriage ended in annulment in 1931 just as their second movie together, titled Too Young to Marry, was released.[2] He also was married to Gladys Joyce Walsh.

Some of Withers' later screen appearances were arranged through the auspices of his friends John Ford and John Wayne. He appeared in nine movies with John Wayne, including Fort Apache (1948) and Rio Grande (1950).

Wayne was best man at Withers' fifth marriage,[4] to 24-year-old Cuban-born actress Estelita Rodriguez (Rio Bravo) in January 1953 in Reno, Nevada. They too resided in the San Fernando Valley on Woodcliff Avenue in Sherman Oaks, California. Estelita began a nightclub singing career at the end of her Republic contract. The marriage was not a happy one. They divorced in 1955.[4] A noticeable weight gain became apparent in his films as his career progressed. In later years, back problems were among his health issues.


Withers died in his apartment at age 54.[5] With failing health, he committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates on March 27, 1959. Withers left a suicide note that read "Please forgive me, my family. I was so unhappy. It's better this way."[4] He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Selected filmography

1926Fighting HeartsTod Raleigh
1926The Gentle CycloneWilkes Junior
1928Golden ShacklesFrank Fordyce
1928Bringing Up FatherDennis
1929The Time, the Place and the GirlJim Crane
1929The Greyhound LimitedBill
1929In the HeadlinesNosey Norton
1929So Long LettyHarry Miller
1930Soldiers and WomenCaptain Clive Branch
1930The Other TomorrowJim Carter
1930Sinner's HolidayAngel Harrigan
1931Other Men's WomenBill White
1935The Fighting MarinesCpl. Larry Lawrence
1935The TestBrule Conway
1935Goin' To TownCowboy
1936The Arizona RaidersMonroe Adams
1937Jungle JimJim 'Jungle Jim' BradleySerial
1937Bill Cracks Down"Tons" Walker
1938Mr. Wong – Mr. Wong, DetectiveCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1939Mr. Wong – Mr. Wong in ChinatownCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1939Daughter of the TongRalph Dickson
1939Navy SecretsSteve Roberts
1940Mr. Wong – Fatal HourCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1940Mr. Wong – Doomed to DieCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1940Mr. Wong – Phantom of ChinatownCapt. William 'Bill' Street
1943In Old OklahomaRichardson
1943Petticoat LarcenyDetective Hogan
1944The Fighting SeabeesWhanger Spreckles
1944The Yellow Rose of TexasExpress Agent Lucas
1946My Darling ClementineIke Clanton
1947TycoonFog Harris
1948Fort ApacheSilas Meacham
1948Wake of the Red WitchCapt. Wilde Youngeur
1950Bells of CoronadoCraig Bennett
1950Rio GrandeDeputy Marshal
1952Tropical Heat WaveNorman James
1953Fair Wind to JavaJason Blue
1954Jubilee TrailMaj. LyndenUncredited
1955Run for CoverGentry
1955Lady Godiva of CoventryPendar
1956The White SquawSheriff
1957Hell's CrossroadsSheriff Steve Oliver
1957The Last Stagecoach WestJack Fergus
1959I MobsterPaul Moran


  1. Rowan, Terry. Character-Based Film Series Part 2. p. 168. ISBN 9781365021305. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  2. Mayer, Geoff (2017). Encyclopedia of American Film Serials. McFarland. pp. 290–291. ISBN 9780786477623. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  3. Hal Erickson, "Return of Dr. Thackeray", All Movie Guide
  4. Various Sources. "Estelita Rodriguez". Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. Retrieved 2011-12-04.
  5. Frasier, David K. (2005). Suicide in the Entertainment Industry: An Encyclopedia of 840 Twentieth Century Cases. McFarland. p. 350. ISBN 9780786423330. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
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