X Brands

X Brands (July 24, 1927 – May 8, 2000), sometimes credited as "Jay X. Brands", was an American actor of German ancestry known for his roles on various television series and in some films between 1956 and the late 1970s. His best-known recurring character is Pahoo-Ka-Ta-Wah ("Wolf Who Stands In Water"), the shotgun-toting Native American on Yancy Derringer, a 1958-1959 CBS series set in post-Civil War New Orleans and starring Jock Mahoney in the title role.[1]

X Brands
Brands (left) with Frances Bergen and
Jock Mahoney in Yancy Derringer (1959)
Jay X Brands

(1927-07-24)July 24, 1927
DiedMay 8, 2000(2000-05-08) (aged 72)
Years active1956-1978
Spouse(s)Suzan H. Edwards
(m. 1946-div. ?)
Jean D. Merriam
(m. 1950-div. 1961)
Pamela M. McInnes
(m. 1971-div. 1975)

Early life

Although Jay X Brands was of European ancestry, his portrayals of American Indians in film and television roles earned praise for their authenticity. Brummett Echohawk, a spokesman for the Pawnee Indians, wrote a letter to Hollywood producers in which he commended Brands for his authentic performance and his ability at speaking the tribe's language.[2]

Brands' unusual use of a lone alphabetic character as a name derives from his family's history. In the small town in Germany where his ancestors once resided, there were two men named Jan Brands. One of them adopted the middle initial "X" to distinguish himself from the other Jan. He became known as "X" Brands, and the name continued to be used by his descendants who immigrated to America. In keeping with family tradition, no Brands could use the initial until the previous "X" had died.[3]

X Brands was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the youngest of three children of Pansy (née Allen) and William G. Brands.[4][5] By 1940 he had relocated with his family to Glendale, California, where his father worked as a general contractor.[5] Living only 11 miles (18 km) from Hollywood, Brands as a young man was attracted to filmwork, and over time he managed to find employment as a stuntman and later opportunities to act.


During his film career, Brands invariably served as supporting characters, often in uncredited roles, performing in at least 13 films between 1956 and 1978.[6] His most noteworthy roles are as “Hook” in Santee, starring Glenn Ford, and as “Vallejo” in the third remake of Beau Geste (1966).[7]

Year Film Title Role Film Director
1956 Frontier Gambler "Gregg" (uncredited) Sam Newfield
1956 Naked Gun "Lang" Edward Drew
1957 She Devil First Officer Kurt Neumann
1957 Band of Angels Officer Raoul Walsh
1957 Young and Dangerous Motorcycle cop (uncredited) William F. Claxton
1958 Escort West "Tago" Francis D. Lyon
1958 Revolt in the Big House Guard (uncredited) R. G. Springsteen
1959 Gunmen from Laredo "Delgados" (uncredited) Wallace MacDonald
1960 Oklahoma Territory "Running Cloud" Edward L. Cahn
1966 Beau Geste "Vallejo" Douglas Heyes
1971 Captain Apache (Brands' role unlisted) Alexander Singer
1973 Santee "Hook" Gary Nelson
1978 Avalanche "Marty Brenner" Corey Allen


Best-known role

The television series Yancy Derringer stars Jock Mahoney and consists of 34 weekly episodes, which originally aired from October 1958 through June 1959. The series' storyline is set in New Orleans just after the end of the Civil War in 1865. X Brands plays “Pahoo-Ka-Ta-Wah,” a tall Pawnee Indian who carries a double-barrel shotgun and is Derringer's (Mahoney's) constant companion and protector. Pahoo's loyalty and overriding concern for Derringer's welfare began after he saved Yancy's life. In the series' pilot episode, “Return to New Orleans”, Yancy recounts that act; and explains that by saving his life, Pahoo believes "he went against fate” and “therefore he's responsible for my life from now on.”[8] Also, throughout the series, Brands' Pawnee character is silent, never uttering a word. Whenever Yancy does speak to him, Pahoo uses only sign language—hand gestures—to communicate.[9]

Other notable roles

In 1956, two years before he began work on Yancy Derringer, Brands appeared in different roles in 15 episodes of the syndicated Western series Judge Roy Bean, featuring Edgar Buchanan, Jack Buetel, and Jackie Loughery.[10] His other television appearances in the role of a guest star include series such as Crossroads, Cheyenne, Annie Oakley, Gunsmoke, The Tall Man, Daniel Boone, Mission: Impossible, The High Chaparral, Laredo, Alias Smith and Jones, Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Rifleman, Rawhide, and Broken Arrow. He does not always appear as Indians in Westerns, although most of his roles are of that type and genre. Brands, for example, appears in the speaking role of "Yancey" in an episode of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, a popular adventure series in the late 1950s. Later, on the NBC espionage series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., he portrays yet again a Native American in a 1966 episode titled "The Indian Affairs Affair".[11]

X Brands can also be seen in a rare talking role as trail boss Jeb Mitchell in a 1960 episode on NBC's Bat Masterson. He has another speaking role in the ABC/Warner Brothers series Cheyenne, in the episode "Massacre At Gunsight Pass", portraying the Indian leader "Powderface". He plays rogue Indian "Sharp Tongue" in a speaking role on the season six episode of Bonanza "A Far, Far Better Thing". He has a speaking role as well in a 1970 episode of NBC's police series Adam-12 in which he plays Officer Sanchez.

Personal life and death

X Brands was married three times. On October 3, 1946, while serving as an electrician's mate in the United States Navy, he wed 16-year-old California native Suzan Harriet Edwards in Los Angeles.[12] The duration of their union is undetermined, although it was apparently brief, for in 1950 he married Jean Dorothy Merriam of Fort Worth, Texas. He and Merriam had two daughters—Kathleen Jean (1951-2001) and Karen Juliet (1956- )—before their marriage ended in 1961.[13][14] Ten years later, on August 28, 1971, Brands married once more in Los Angeles, on that occasion to 23-year-old Pamela M. McInnes. Los Angeles County records document that they also divorced in October 1975.[15][16]

Brands died at age 72 in Northridge, California, on May 8, 2000. According to Brands' daughter Karen Juliet (Brands) Dougherty, her father's death certificate attributed his demise to sepsis, pneumonia and congestive heart failure, not to cancer as cited by some biographical references.[13]

Reference and notes

  1. Hémard, Ned (2010). "NEW ORLEANS NOSTALGIA: Remembering New Orleans History, Culture and Traditions", "Gallatin Street", [page 3]; New Orleans Bar Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  2. TV ACRES: Ethnic Groups - Native American
  3. Klyde, Andrew J. (2018). "Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa", episode guide, season 6; Kew Gardens Hills, New York. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  4. "Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930, Kansas City, Missouri, April 8, 1930; digital copy of original census page with handwritten entries, archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. FamilySearch. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  5. "Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940", Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, April 10, 1940. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  6. "X Brands", filmography, American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles California. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  7. "Santee (1973)", synopsis, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner, Inc., New York, N.Y. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  8. Information and quoted dialog are from a full digital copy of “Return to New Orleans” (S01E01) of “Yancy Derringer (1958) Season 1 Episode 1”, originally televised by CBS on October 2, 1958. Posted October 29, 2016, by Constance Easley on YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, Mountain View, California. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  9. The Pawnee, who linguistically speak a form of the Caddoan language, are one of the subgroups of native people in North America who also used a sign language common to various nations of the Great Plains.
  10. "X Brands", filmography, Internet Movie Database (IMDb), a subsidiary of Amazon, Seattle, Washington. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  11. "The Indian Affairs Affair", episode S2E30, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., originally broadcast April 15, 1966. IMDb. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  12. "California, County Marriages, 1850-1952", Los Angeles County Courthouse, California. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  13. Information about Brands' second marriage, his children by that marriage, and causes of his death are provided by his daughter Karen Juliet (Brands) Dougherty and are posted at "Who Are Those Guys? -X Brands", Westerns All Italiana, January 18, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  14. "X Brands: Biography", Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Amazon, Seattle, Washington. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  15. "California Marriage Index, 1960-1985", Center of Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  16. "California Divorce Index, Los Angeles, California", California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. FamilySearch. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
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