James Griffith

James Jeffrey Griffith (February 13, 1916 – September 17, 1993) was an American character actor, musician and screenwriter.[1]

James Griffith
James Griffith in The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)
Born(1916-02-13)February 13, 1916
Los Angeles, California, US
DiedSeptember 17, 1993(1993-09-17) (aged 77)
Other namesJim Griffith
James J. Griffith
EducationUniversity of California, Los Angeles
OccupationActor, musician, screenwriter
Years active1948–1982
Spouse(s)Margaret (Sally) Griffith (1943–1975; her death)
Betsy Griffith (1983–1993; his death)


Attended Santa Monica High School, where he was a classmate with Glenn Ford. Both were active in school drama productions.


Born in Los Angeles, Griffith aspired to be a musician rather than an actor. Instead after graduating from University of California, Los Angeles, he managed to find work in little theatres around Los Angeles, where the budding musician eased into a dual career of acting. He found success in the production They Can't Get You Down in 1939, but put his career on hold during World War II to serve with the United States Marine Corps. Following the war, Griffith switched from the stage to films when he appeared in the 1948 film noir picture Blonde Ice. From then on, he enjoyed a lengthy career of supporting and bit roles (sometimes uncredited) in westerns and detective films.

Though Griffith was generally cast as the outlaw in Western pictures, he managed to garner a few memorable "good guy" roles over his many years in Hollywood – Abraham Lincoln in both 1950's Stage to Tucson and 1955's Apache Ambush, sheriff Pat Garrett in 1954's The Law vs. Billy the Kid, and Davy Crockett in 1956's The First Texan. In 1959 Griffith appeared as John Wesley Hardin on the TV western Maverick in the episode titled "Duel at Sundown" featuring James Garner and Clint Eastwood.

In the role of Aaron Adams, the town barber, Griffith appeared in 1958 in twelve episodes of the CBS western series, Trackdown,[2] starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman.[3]

Griffith also portrayed deputy Tom Ferguson in the syndicated series, Sheriff of Cochise, starring John Bromfield, and U.S. Marshal.[2]:1134

Griffith made more than seventy guest appearances on television shows, including eight episodes of Wagon Train, seven episodes of The Range Rider, seven episodes of The Lone Ranger, two episodes of Annie Oakley, four episodes of Cheyenne, three episodes of Buffalo Bill, Jr., six episodes of Gunsmoke, four episodes of Perry Mason, four episodes of Dragnet, three episodes (42, 43 and 108) of Batman, and two segments of Little House on the Prairie.

Throughout his acting career, Griffith continued to practice his original love of music, having performed in the Spike Jones band. he composed music for the 1958 film Bullwhip and the 1964 picture, Lorna, in which he also had a role and served as screenwriter. Griffith played the Reverend in Black in the opening, closing, and a few in the middle scenes of Lorna, starring Lorna Maitland in one of director Russ Meyer's black-and-white 'skin' movies before the height of Meyer's career in 1968 with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Griffith made his last onscreen appearance in a 1982 episode of CBS' Dallas.


Griffith died of cancer in Avila Beach, California, on September 17, 1993.


Year Title Role Notes
1948 Blonde Ice Al Herrick
Appointment with Murder Detective Uncredited
Every Girl Should Be Married Insurance salesman Uncredited
1949 Life of St. Paul Series Tertullus
Alaska Patrol Operative Dale
Daughter of the West Jed Morgan
Search for Danger Lt. Cooper
Special Agent Candy Vendor on Train Uncredited
Fighting Man of the Plains Quantrell
Oh, You Beautiful Doll Joe - Reporter Uncredited
Holiday Affair Crowley's Floorwalker Uncredited
1950 Young Man with a Horn Walt Uncredited
Bright Leaf Ellery Uncredited
The Cariboo Trail Higgins
The Petty Girl Royal Roof Orchestra Leader Uncredited
Indian Territory Apache Kid aka Johnny Corday
The Breaking Point Charlie, Bartender Uncredited
Stage to Tucson Abraham Lincoln Voice, Uncredited
Double Deal Walter Karnes
1951 Al Jennings of Oklahoma Slim Harris
The Great Missouri Raid Jack Ladd
Payment on Demand Arthur Uncredited
Apache Drums Lt. Glidden
Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison Carl Gebhardt Uncredited
Goodbye, My Fancy Somers (scenes deleted)
As Young as You Feel Cashier Uncredited
Chain of Circumstance Sid
Rhubarb Ogelthorpe 'Oggie' Meadows
Drums in the Deep South Union Officer Reporting to Denning Uncredited
The Lady Pays Off Ronald
The Blue Veil Joplin's Agent Uncredited
1952 Red Skies of Montana Boise Peterson Alternative title: Smoke Jumpers
Wait till the Sun Shines, Nellie Ollie Uncredited
Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair Medicine Man Uncredtted
Eight Iron Men Pvt. Ferguson
1953 Kansas Pacific Joe Farley, Railroad guard
Powder River Mac - Hotel Clerk Uncredited
The Kid from Left Field Newsstand Proprietor
No Escape Peter Hayden
A Lion Is in the Streets Mayor's Clerk Uncredited
1954 Ride Clear of Diablo Henry - Train Conductor Uncredited
The Boy from Oklahoma Joe Downey, Alderman
Jesse James vs. the Daltons Bob Dalton
Rails Into Laramie Marshal Orrie Sommers
The Law vs. Billy the Kid Pat Garrett, Sheriff
Dragnet Jesse Quinn
The Shanghai Story Carl Hoyt
The Black Dakotas Warren
Drum Beat Veteran One-Legged Soldier at White House gate Uncredited
Masterson of Kansas Doc Holliday
Day of Triumph Judas Iscariot
1955 I Cover the Underworld Smiley Di Angelo
Son of Sinbad Arab Guide Uncredited
The Kentuckian Riverboat Gambler Uncredited
The Night of the Hunter District Attorney Uncredited
Apache Ambush President Abraham Lincoln
Count Three and Pray Swallow Alternative title: The Calico Pony
At Gunpoint The Stranger (Bob Alexander)
1956 Tribute to a Bad Man Barjak
Anything Goes Paul Holiday
The Killing Mr. Grimes
The First Texan Davy Crockett
Rebel in Town Marshal Adam Russell
1957 The Guns of Fort Petticoat Kipper
The Vampire Henry Winston
Omar Khayyam Buzorg
Domino Kid Sam Beal Uncredited
Raintree County Mr. Gray's searching companion Uncredited
1958 Return to Warbow Frank Hollister
Man from God's Country Mark Faber
Seven Guns to Mesa Papa Clellan
Bullwhip 'Slow' Karp
Frontier Gun Cash Skelton
1959 The Big Fisherman Beggar
1960 The Amazing Transparent Man Maj. Paul Krenner
Spartacus Otho Uncredited
North to Alaska Salvation Army Leader Uncredited
1961 Morgan keibu to nazô no otoko
Pocketful of Miracles Briscoe Uncredited
1962 How the West Was Won Poker player with Cleve Uncredited
1964 Advance to the Rear Hugo Zattig Alternative title: Company of Cowards?
Lorna The Man of God
1966 A Big Hand for the Little Lady Mr. Stribling
1968 Day of the Evil Gun Storekeeper – Hazenville
1969 Heaven with a Gun Abraham Murdock (sheepherder)
Seven in Darkness Harlan Cabot TV Movie
Hail, Hero! Painter #2
1970 Like It Is Father
1974 Seven Alone Billy Shaw
1976 Flood! Charlie Davis TV Movie
1977 Speedtrap Wino
1980 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Squire Van Tassel TV Movie
Year Title Role Notes
1952 Hopalog Cassidy Roscoe Hicks 1 episode
1953 Cavalcade of America Abraham Lincoln 1 episode
1954 City Detective Harry 1 episode
Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Raymond Andrews 1 episode
1955 Buffalo Bill, Jr. Kelso Dodge 3 episodes
Gunsmoke Joe Kite 1 episode: "Kite's Reward"
1957 The Gray Ghost Buddy 1 episode
The Adventures of Jim Bowie Jud Cameron 1 episode
1957–1962 Cheyenne Assorted roles 4 episodes
1957 Cheyenne Joe Epic Episode: "Land Beyond the Law"
1958 Frontier Justice Taggert 1 episode
Jefferson Drum Troy Bendick Episode: "Return"
1958 Official Detective Det Fred Ball Episode: "Body In The Trunk"
1958 The Walter Winchell File Don Gue Watson Episode: "A Thing of Beauty"
1959–1962 Laramie Assorted roles 3 episodes
1959 Rescue 8 Ramases 1 episode
Wichita Town Vic Parker 1 episode
Sheriff of Cochise Deputy Tom Ferguson series regular 1959–1960
1961 The Tall Man Clint Latimer "A Kind of Courage"
Two Faces West Les Hardy 1 episode
The Lawless Years Jonathan Willis 1 episode
1962 Empire Pete Stroud "A Place to Put a Life"
Tales of Wells Fargo Roland Jensen 1 episode
The Tall Man James Cutter "Trial by Fury"
Have Gun Will Travel (TV series) Marauder- "The Predators" episode.
Lawman Heracles Snead 1 episode
1963 GE True "The Moonshiners" Stan Woolman
Ben Casey John Randall "Suffer the Little Children"
The Untouchables Monk Lyselle 1 episode
1964 The Great Adventure Harry Young 1 episode
Slattery's People Emmett Logan "Question, Is Laura the Name of the Game?"
The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters Gambler, Bagsley, and Snake "The Day of the Toll Takers", "The Day of the Picnic", and "The Day of the Pretenders", respectively
1965 The Rouges Bert 1 episode
Laredo Deke Pryor 1 episode
1966 F Troop Sergeant Crawford 1 episode
The Monroes Henri "Fox" Bonnard 1 episode
1966 Batman Trusty 2 episodes (43 and 44)
1967 Batman Manx 1 episode (108)
1967 The Iron Horse Howley 1 episode
The Monkees Marshall 1 episode
1969 The Guns of Will Sonnett Major Cross 1 episode
The Mod Squad Bubba Johnson 1 episode
1971 The Bold Ones: The Senator Channing 1 episode
1972 Kung Fu Purdy 1 episode
1974 Kolchak: The Night Stalker George M. Schwartz 1 episode
1975 The Six Million Dollar Man Will Long 1 episode
Barbary Coast Eikel 1 episode
1976 The Quest Donkin 1 episode
1977 Police Story Travis Caulder 1 episode
1978 Fantasy Island Hezekiah Pugh 1 episode
1979 B. J. and the Bear Uncle Moss 2 episodes
1981 Hart to Hart Prospector 1 episode
1982 Dallas 1 episode


  1. Aaker, Everett (2017). Television Western Players, 1960-1975: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-4766-2856-1 via Google Books.
  2. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 1102. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  3. Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 104
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