Rex Bell

Rex Bell (born George Francis Beldam; October 16, 1903 July 4, 1962) was an American actor and politician. He was a Western movie star married to actress Clara Bow, and the 21st Lieutenant Governor of Nevada.

Rex Bell
21st Lieutenant Governor of Nevada
In office
1955–1962
GovernorCharles H. Russell
Grant Sawyer
Preceded byClifford A. Jones
Succeeded byMaude Frazier
Personal details
Born
George Francis Beldam

(1903-10-16)October 16, 1903
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 4, 1962(1962-07-04) (aged 58)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Clara Bow (m. 1931)
Children2
ProfessionActor, politician

Film career

Bell made his film debut in Wild West Romance in 1928,[1] and went on to act in a number of films, mostly Westerns, in which he had the lead role. He left the movie industry in 1936, although he had generally small roles in a few later films.

In 1931,[2] Bell and his wife, actress Clara Bow, founded the Walking Box Ranch,[3] at Searchlight, Nevada.[4]

His final film appearance was a brief cameo as a cowboy in John Huston's film The Misfits (1961), which was shot on location in Nevada. He appeared in the film with actress Marilyn Monroe, who died a month after Bell in the summer of 1962.

Political career

In 1944, Bell ran for the United States House of Representatives on the Republican ticket against Democrat Berkeley Bunker. The Nevada State Journal commented on November 1: "He has made friends where ever he appeared, but consensus is that the time is too short to overcome a handicap of not being so well known as his opponent".[5] The election was held November 7, and Bell got 19,096 votes while Bunker received 36,648.[6]

Bell was the leader of the Nevada Republican Party and in 1948 was an alternate to the Republican National Convention. He was also active in the Nevada Chamber of Commerce and Boy Scouts.[7]

The ties Bell forged during those years helped him win the Lieutenant Governor's office in 1954. That year, Charles H. Russell, the incumbent Republican governor, also won. In 1958, Democrat Grant Sawyer unseated Russell, but Bell won re-election as Lieutenant Governor (Bell and his Nevada state political position are mentioned in John D. MacDonald's 1960 novel The Only Girl in the Game). He died in office of a heart attack in 1962.

Other activities

Television

Bell was host of the program Cowboys and Injuns in 1950. It began on a station in Los Angeles[1] and went on to be broadcast on ABC. The show focused on legends that were derived from folklore of cowboys and Native Americans in the United States.[8]

Business

Bell operated Rexco, Incorporated, which manufactured and distributed novelty gift items. He and his brother also had two clothing stores in Nevada.[1]

Personal life

Bell was born in Chicago, and married actress Clara Bow in 1931.[3] They had two sons, Tony Beldam (1934–2011), who changed his name to Rex Anthony Bell Jr., and George Beldam Jr. (born 1938).[9][10] Rex Bell Jr. appeared in two Western films—Stage to Thunder Rock (1964), in the role of "Shotgun Rex", and Young Fury (1965), and later served as district attorney of Clark County from 1987 to 1995.[11]

The Rex Bell Elementary School in Las Vegas was named in honor of Bell.[12]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1928Wild West RomancePhil O'Malley
1928The Cowboy KidJim Barrett
1928Girl-Shy CowboyJoe Benson
1928Taking a ChanceJoe Courtney
1929Joy StreetEddie
1929Pleasure CrazedPeters (chauffeur)
1929SaluteCadetUncredited
1929Happy DaysRex Bell
1929They Had to See ParisClark McCurdy
1930Harmony at HomeDick Grant
1930CourageLynn Willard
1930True to the NavyEddie
1930Lightnin'Larry - Betty's Husband
1931Battling with Buffalo BillDave ArcherSerial
1931Forgotten WomenJimmy Burke
1931Law of the SeaCole Andrews
1932The Arm of the LawRobin Dale
1932Broadway to CheyenneBreezy Kildare
1932The Man From ArizonaKent Rogers
1932Lucky LarriganCraig Larrigan - posing as Tex aka Lucky
1932Crashin' BroadwayTad Wallace
1933Diamond TrailSpeed Morgan - posing as Frisco Eddie
1933Fighting TexansRandy Graves
1933The FugitiveJoe Kean
1933Rainbow RanchEd Randall
1933Hollywood on Parade No. A-8HimselfShort
1934The Tonto KidSkeets Slawson aka The Tonto Kid
1934GunfireJerry Dunbar
1935Fighting PioneersLieutenant Bentley
1935Border VengeanceAnnounced Rodeo Guest StarUncredited
1935Saddle AcesSteve Brandt
1936Too Much BeefJohnny Argyle alias Tucson Smith
1936West of NevadaJim Carden, posing as Jim Lloyd
1936The Idaho KidTodd Hollister aka Idaho
1936Men of the PlainsJim Dean - aka Tom Porter
1936Law and LeadJimmy Sawyer
1936Stormy TrailsTom Storm
1942Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to DieVirgil Earp
1942Dawn on the Great DivideJack Carson
1952Lone StarMinor RoleUncredited
1952Sky Full of MoonHimselfUncredited
1961The MisfitsOld CowboyUncredited, (final film role)

References

  1. "Rex Bell: Nevada's Goodwill Ambassador". Films of the Golden Age (91): 58–59. Winter 2017–2018.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  2. KALIL, J.M. (2000-12-20). "WALKING BOX RANCH: Sale brings less than third of asking price". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
  3. KALIL, J.M. (2000-11-19). "Ranch sells for $650,000". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
  4. Reid, Harry (2007-11-05). Searchlight: The Camp That Didn't Fail. University of Nevada Press. p. 103. ISBN 0874177537.
  5. Nevada State Journal, November 1, 1944
  6. Nevada State Journal, November 18, 1944
  7. Nevada Day Grand Marshals
  8. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  9. B-Westerns
  10. Hall, Mordaunt. "Movies". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  11. "Rex Bell Jr., former Clark County district attorney, dies at 76". Las Vegas Review-Journal. July 9, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  12. Rex Bell Elementary School
Political offices
Preceded by
Clifford A. Jones
Lieutenant Governor of Nevada
1955 – 1962
Succeeded by
Maude Frazier
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