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Roy Barcroft
Roy Barcroft in Haunted Harbor
Roy Barcroft in Haunted Harbor
Born Howard Harold Ravenscroft
(1902-09-07)September 7, 1902
Crab Orchard, Nebraska, U.S.[1]
Died November 28, 1969(1969-11-28) (aged 67)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Kidney cancer
Other names Big Roy, Roy Bancroft, Howard Clifford Ravenscroft
Occupation Film, stage, television actor
Years active 1937–1969
Spouse(s) Hortense Flanagan (1930)
Vera Thompson (1932-1969) (his death)

Roy Barcroft (September 7, 1902 – November 28, 1969) was an American character actor famous for playing villains in B-Westerns and other genres. From 1937 to 1957, he appeared in more than 300 films for Republic Pictures.[2] Film critic Leonard Maltin acclaimed Barcroft as "Republic Pictures' number one bad guy".[3]


Barcroft was born Howard Harold Ravenscroft[4] to a farming family in Crab Orchard, Nebraska, in 1902. In 1917, at the age of 15, he joined the United States Army during World War I[5] to fight in France, where he was wounded in action. After leaving the military, he drifted through several jobs (including ranch hand, roughneck, railroad worker and seaman) before reenlisting and being stationed in Hawaii. After leaving the Army for the second time, he played clarinet and saxophone for dance bands around Chicago until he and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1929.[6]


In 1929, he moved to California and worked as an extra and as a salesman. He was discovered while acting in an amateur theatre production (a hobby which he took up to improve his speaking voice as a salesman) and cast in the serial S.O.S. Coast Guard (which followed his appearances in Flash Gordon (1936) and The President's Mystery (1936)).[6] He worked for many studios in the years that followed until 1943, when he signed an exclusive 10-year contract with Republic. Under this contract, he starred in almost 150 films and serials, becoming instantly recognized as the villain to the audiences of the day.

His career slowed with the decline of B-Westerns, but he found work in television and B-Movies during the 1950s and 1960s. Between 1955 and 1957, he became familiar to a new generation of youthful audiences, not as a villain but as "Col. Jim Logan", the kindly owner of the Triple-R Boys' Ranch in the hit television serials Spin and Marty, seen on Walt Disney's celebrated Mickey Mouse Club. A DVD version of the 1955 season, The Adventures of Spin & Marty, was released in 2005 as part of the Walt Disney Treasures series.

From 1954 to 1956, Barcroft appeared in different roles in eight episodes of the syndicated western series Annie Oakley, starring Gail Davis and Brad Johnson. He also played the bit role of the marshal in the 1955 film adaptation of Oklahoma!.

On May 23, 1961, Barcroft played Doc Longley in the episode "Badge of the Outsider" on NBC's Laramie western series. Longley is an aging outlaw who wants to live his last years in peace in his hometown of Laramie, Wyoming. A gang member frames Longley for the murder of the deputy sheriff in Laramie. Longley claims most of the wanted posters seeking him are based on falsehood, and he asks series character Slim Sherman (John Smith) for help. Then he claims harm will come to Slim's partner, Jess Harper (Robert Fuller), if Slim refuses to comply. Longley surrenders to authorities, but a judge claims Longley must "prove his innocence" in the case. Longley's gang springs him from jail when the hearing goes against him, but the gang is interested in Longley's money, not Longley's own fate. Paul Fix also appears in this episode.

Barcroft was cast in the 1967 episode "Halo for a Badman" of the syndicated western series, Death Valley Days, as the mayor of Las Animas, Colorado. He hires an ex-convict, Porter Stockman, played by series host Robert Taylor, to stand up to an outlaw gang which has robbed every gold shipment coming into town.

The Internet Movie Data Base records 365 roles throughout his career, including the syndicated Sheriff of Cochise with John Bromfield, the CBS military sitcom/drama Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper, and NBC's National Velvet, Riverboat, and Empire.

In the film-focused newspaper Classic Images, Laura Wagner wrote that Barcroft's work as a voice actor is often overlooked. She commented, "Barcroft can be heard in movies and on TV as narrators, radio operators, announcers, and various stray voices."[7]

In marked contrast to his villainous movie persona, Barcroft off-screen "had a reputation as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood," said Leonard Maltin in 2005.[3]

Personal life

Barcroft married Vera Thompson in 1932, and they had two children.[7]


Barcroft died of kidney cancer[5] at the Motion Picture Country Hospital in 1969. His body was donated to medical science.[7]

Selected filmography

  • The Bandit Trail (1941)
  • Sheriff of Sundown (1944)
  • Call of the South Seas (1944)
  • Girls of the Big House (1945)
  • Along the Navajo Trail (1945)
  • The Purple Monster Strikes (1945)
  • Sunset in El Dorado (1945)
  • Wyoming (1947)
  • The Dakota Kid (1951)
  • Radar Men from the Moon (1953; Commando Cody/Rocketman series)
  • Down Laredo Way (1953)
  • Man Without a Star (1955)
  • Oklahoma! (1955)
  • Bandolero! (1968)
  • Monte Walsh (1970)


  1. Exploring Nebraska Highways: Trip Trivia. Exploring America's Highway. 2007. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-9744358-7-9. 
  2. Varner, Paul (2009) (in en). The A to Z of Westerns in Cinema. Scarecrow Press. pp. 16–17. ISBN 9780810870512. Retrieved 27 September 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Adventures of Spin and Marty". Walt Disney Treasures. December 2005. 
  4. "Roy Barcroft Biography (1902-1969)". Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Boggs, Johnny D. (2013) (in en). Billy the Kid on Film, 1911-2012. McFarland. p. 161. ISBN 9780786465552. Retrieved 27 September 2017. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mayer, Geoff (2017). Encyclopedia of American Film Serials. McFarland. pp. 43–44. ISBN 9781476627199. Retrieved June 17, 2017. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Wagner, Laura (August 2017). "Roy Barcroft: King of the Badmen". pp. 30–31. 

Further reading

External links

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