Roscoe Ates

Roscoe Ates (January 20, 1895 – March 1, 1962) was an American vaudeville performer, actor of stage and screen, comedian and musician who primarily featured in western films and television. He was best known as western character Soapy Jones.[1] He was also billed as Rosco Ates.

Roscoe Ates
Ates in 1933
Born(1895-01-20)January 20, 1895
Grange, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedMarch 1, 1962(1962-03-01) (aged 67)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California
  • film actor
  • stage performer
  • comedian
  • vaudevillian
  • musician
Years active1929–1961
Clara Callahan
(m. 1923; div. 1945)

Leonore Belle Jumps
(m. 1949; her death 1955)

Beatrice Angelina Naranjo
(m. 1960; his death 1962)

Early years

Ates was born on January 20, 1895, in the rural hamlet of Grange, northwest of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.[1] Grange is no longer included on road maps. Ates spent much of his childhood overcoming a severe speech impediment,[2] finally succeeding when he was 18.[3]

Early career

Ates played his violin to accompany silent films at a theater in Chickasha, Oklahoma.[3] Following that experience, he became an entertainer as a concert violinist but found economic opportunities greater as a vaudeville comedian, appearing as half of the team of Ates and Darling.[4] For 15 years, he was a headliner on the Orpheum Circuit,[5] and he revived his long-gone stutter for humorous effect.

Military service

Ates served in World War II, training of the Air Force fighter squad program in Houston, Texas at Ellington Field Texas.

Theater and personal appearances

On Broadway, Ates appeared as James McCracken in the musical comedy Sea Legs (1937).[6]

In the late 1930s, Ates made a personal appearance tour in Scotland and England. He also toured selected American cities with Hollywood Scandals, a stage revue with 35 people.[7]

Film career

His first film role was a ship's cook in South Sea Rose. The next year he was cast as "Old Stuff" in the film Billy the Kid. In 1931, Ates appeared in fourteen films, with some roles uncredited. Here is a partial listing of his films:

Musical performances

Ates performed these songs in his films:

  • Billy the Kid: "Turkey in the Straw" (1930)
  • Remote Control: "The Wedding March" (1930)
  • Renegades of the West: "Farmer in the Dell" (1932)
  • Rancho Grande: "Dude Ranch Cow Hands" (uncredited, 1938)
  • Cowboy from Sundown: "The Craw-dad Song" (1940)
  • Captain Caution: "Hilda" (1940)
  • Colorado Serenade: "Home on the Range" (1946)
  • Driftin' River: "Way Back in Oklahoma" (1946)
  • Wild West, also known as Prairie Outlaw: Song, "Elmer, The Knock-Kneed Cowboy" (1946)[8]

Television career

In 1950, Ates was appeared in his first television role as Deputy Roscoe on ABC series The Marshal of Gunsight Pass.[9]

Ates appeared on television in multiple roles. He was cast as Henry Wilson in the episode "The Census Taker" of the syndicated western series The Cisco Kid, and he also appeared that same year in the Gale Storm sitcom, My Little Margie and Boston Blackie. He appeared on Gail Davis's Annie Oakley series as Curly Dawes, the telegraph operator.[10]

In 1958, Ates was cast as "Old Timer" in the episode "The Sacramento Story" of NBC's Wagon Train. In 1959, Ates appeared in western series The Restless Gun, State Trooper, and Buckskin. He had a nameless role as a barfly in the 1958 episode of "Maverick" called "Gun-Shy", a spoof of the series Gunsmoke. In 1960, he was cast as Fenton in the episode "Hot Ice Cream" of Charles Bronson's ABC series Man with a Camera, as Lou Nugget in "The Fabulous Fiddle" of Scott Brady's syndicated Shotgun Slade, and as Deputy Boak in "The Missing Queen" of Andrew Duggan's ABC crime drama Bourbon Street Beat, set in New Orleans.[8]

Later roles

From 1958–60, Ates appeared five times on CBS's Alfred Hitchcock Presents mystery series.[11]

In 1960, Ates appeared as a guest in the presentation of the life story of honorary Hollywood mayor Johnny Grant on NBC's This Is Your Life biography series with host Ralph Edwards.[8]

Ates's last credited roles were in 1961 as a drunk in Robert Stack's ABC series The Untouchables and as sheriffs in The Red Skelton Show. His final screen appearance in Jerry Lewis's 1961 film The Errand Boy was uncredited.[8]

Family and death

Ates was married three times. After his divorce from the former Clara Callahan, he married Leonore Belle Jumps in 1949. She died in 1955.[12] In 1960, he married Beatrice Angelina Naranjo who survived him.[13]

Ates died of lung cancer at the age of 67 at the West Valley Community Hospital in Encino, California.[1][8] He is entombed at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[14]


  1. "Roscoe Ates, 67, Comedian, Dies. Veteran Of Movies Played Stuttering Cowboy Roles". New York Times.
  2. "Roscoe Ates": Biography by Hal Erickson". Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  3. Slide, Anthony (2012). The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 15. ISBN 9781617032509. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  4. "Exits and Entrances". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. September 25, 1929. p. 20. Retrieved February 27, 2018 via
  5. "(untitled brief))". The Times. Indiana, Munster. August 4, 1930. p. 8. Retrieved February 27, 2018 via
  6. "Rosco Ates". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on February 28, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  7. "Roscoe Ates and Big Stage Revue at The New Bradford Friday and Saturday". Bradford Evening Star and The Bradford Daily Record. Pennsylvania, Bradford. September 22, 1938. p. 12. Retrieved February 27, 2018 via
  8. "Roscoe Ates". IMDB. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  9. "The Marshal of Gunsight Pass: Summary". Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  10. "Annie Oakley". Archived from the original on December 10, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  11. "Roscoe Ates Filmography". Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  12. "Mrs. Roscoe Ates". New York Times. May 20, 1955.
  13. "Roscoe Ates". Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  14. "Roscoe Ates burial site". Retrieved March 1, 2009.
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