Richard Dix

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Richard Dix
Film actor Richard Dix (SAYRE 23518).jpg
Dix in 1923
Ernst Carlton Brimmer

(1893-07-18)July 18, 1893
DiedSeptember 20, 1949(1949-09-20) (aged 56)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
Years active1914–1947
Winifred Coe
(m. 1931; div. 1933)
Virginia Webster
(m. 1934)

Richard Dix (born Ernst Carlton Brimmer;[1] July 18, 1893 – September 20, 1949) was an American motion picture actor who achieved popularity in both silent and sound film.[2] His standard on-screen image was that of the rugged and stalwart hero. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his lead role in the Best Picture-winning epic Cimarron (1931).[3]

Early life[edit]

Dix was born on July 18, 1893, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.[4]

He was educated there and, to please his father, studied to be a surgeon. His obvious acting talent in his school dramatic club led him to leading roles in most of the school plays. Standing 6 feet and weighing 180 pounds, Dix excelled in sports, especially football and baseball. After a year at the University of Minnesota, he took a position at a bank, and trained for the stage in the evening. His professional start was with a local stock company, and this led to similar work in New York City. He then went to Los Angeles and became leading man for the Morosco Stock Company.[5] His success there earned him a contract with Paramount Pictures.


He then changed his name to Richard Dix. After his move to Hollywood, he began a career in Western movies. One of the few leading men to successfully bridge the transition from silent films to talkies, Dix's best-remembered early role was in Cecil B. Demille's silent version of The Ten Commandments (1923). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1931 for his performance as Yancey Cravat in Cimarron, in which he was billed over Irene Dunne. Cimarron, based on the popular novel by Edna Ferber, took the Best Picture award. Dix starred in another RKO adventure, The Lost Squadron.

Dix featured on a promotional movie poster in 1929 for Redskin
Dix featured on a promotional movie poster in 1943 for The Ghost Ship

A memorable role for Dix was in the 1935 British futuristic film The Tunnel. Dix starred in The Great Jasper and Blind Alibi in the late 1930s. His popular RKO Radio Pictures co-star in Blind Alibi was Ace the Wonder Dog. Dix's human co-stars were Whitney Bourne and Eduardo Ciannelli; the film was directed by Lew Landers. Dix also starred as the homicidal Captain Stone in the Val Lewton production of The Ghost Ship, directed by Mark Robson.

Richard Dix in The Kansan (1943)

In 1941, Dix played Wild Bill Hickok in Badlands of Dakota and portrayed Wyatt Earp the following year in Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die, featuring Edgar Buchanan as Curly Bill Brocious.

In 1944, he starred in The Whistler, a feature film produced by Columbia Pictures based on the popular radio program. The film adaptation was popular enough to become a series. In these offbeat, crime-related stories, Dix did not play "The Whistler" (who was an unseen narrator representing the central character's conscience). He appeared in a variety of characterizations, some sympathetic, others hard-boiled, but always victims of fate and circumstances conspiring against him. Dix retired from acting after the seventh of these films, The Thirteenth Hour. He suffered a heart attack in October 1948[6] and continued to have heart trouble until his death within the year.


According to the July 1934 Movies magazine, on his ranch near Hollywood, the location of which he kept a close secret, Dix raised thousands of chickens and turkeys each year. He also had a collection of thousands of pipes, and a "collection" of 36 dogs, "Scotties and English setters". He also read at least five books a week.[citation needed]

Private life[edit]

Richard Dix married his first wife, Winifred Coe, on October 20, 1931. They had a daughter, Martha Mary Ellen. They divorced in 1933. He married his second wife, Virginia Webster, on June 29, 1934. They had twin boys, Richard Jr. and Robert Dix, and an adopted daughter, Sara Sue.

Dix supported Thomas Dewey in the 1944 United States presidential election.[7]


After years of fighting alcoholism, Dix suffered a serious heart attack on September 12, 1949, while on a train from New York to Los Angeles.[8][note 1][4][note 2][9] Dix died at the age of 56 on September 20, 1949. He had four children from his two marriages. One of these was the actor Robert Dix (1935–2018). Richard Dix, Sr. was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.[10]


Dix has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the Motion Pictures section at 1610 Vine Street. It was dedicated February 8, 1960.[11]


Silent Films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1917 One of Many James Lowery lost
1921 Not Guilty Paul Ellison / Arthur Ellison lost
All's Fair in Love Bobby Cameron lost
Dangerous Curve Ahead Harley Jones lost
The Poverty of Riches John Colby lost
1922 Yellow Men and Gold Parrish lost
Fools First Tommy Frazer lost
The Wall Flower Walt Breen lost
The Bonded Woman Lee Marvin survives; copy at Gosfilmofond
The Sin Flood Bill Bear lost
The Glorious Fool Billy Grant lost
1923 The Christian John Storm extant; George Eastman House
Quicksands Lieutenant Bill lost
Souls for Sale Frank Claymore extant
The Woman with Four Faces Richard Templar lost
Racing Hearts Robby Smith lost
To the Last Man Jean Isbel survives; copy at Gosfilmofond
The Ten Commandments John McTavish extant; George Eastman, Library of Congress
The Call of the Canyon Glenn Kilbourne extant; Gosfilmofond, Library of Congress
1924 The Stranger Larry Darrant lost
Icebound Ben Jordan lost
Unguarded Women Douglas Albright lost
Sinners In Heaven Alan Croft lost
Manhattan Peter Minuit extant
1925 Too Many Kisses Richard Gaylord, Jr extant; Library of Congress
A Man Must Live Geoffrey Farnell lost
The Shock Punch Randall Lee Savage extant;Library of Congress
Men and Women Will Prescott lost
The Lucky Devil Randy Farnum extant;Library of Congress
The Vanishing American Nophaie extant;Library of Congress
Womanhandled Bill Dana extant;Library of Congress
1926 Let's Get Married Billy Dexter extant;Library of Congress
Fascinating Youth Himself (cameo) lost
Say It Again Bob Howard lost
The Quarterback Jack Stone extant;Library of Congress
1927 Paradise for Two Steve Porter lost
Knockout Reilly Dundee "Knockout" Reilly lost
Man Power Tom Roberts lost
Shanghai Bound Jim Bucklin lost
The Gay Defender Joaquin Murrieta lost
1928 Sporting Goods Richard Shelby lost
Easy Come, Easy Go Robert Parker lost
Warming Up Bert Tulliver lost; filmed in silent and Movietone sound version with music and sound effects only
Moran of the Marines Michael Moran lost
1929 Redskin Wingfoot extant; Library of Congress; partly filmed in Technicolor

Sound films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1929 Nothing But the Truth Robert Bennett
The Wheel of Life Captain Leslie Yeullet
The Love Doctor Dr. Gerald Summer
Seven Keys to Baldpate William Halliwell Magee
1930 Lovin' the Ladies Peter Darby
Shooting Straight Larry Sheldon
1931 Cimarron Yancey Cravat Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Young Donovan's Kid Jim Donovan
The Public Defender Pike Winslow
Secret Service Captain Lewis Dumont
1932 The Lost Squadron Capt. "Gibby" Gibson
Roar of the Dragon Captain Chauncey Carson
Hell's Highway Frank 'Duke' Ellis
The Conquerors Roger Standish / Roger Standish Lennox
1933 The Great Jasper Jasper Horn
No Marriage Ties Bruce Foster
Ace of Aces 2nd Lt. Rex "Rocky" Thorne
Day of Reckoning John Day
1934 Stingaree Stingaree
His Greatest Gamble Phillip Eden
West of the Pecos Pecos Smith
1935 The Arizonian Clay Tallant
The Tunnel Richard 'Mack" McAllan
1936 Yellow Dust Bob Culpepper
Special Investigator William "Bill" Fenwick
Devil's Squadron Paul Redmond
1937 The Devil's Playground Jack Dorgan
The Devil is Driving Paul Driscoll
It Happened in Hollywood Tim Bart
1938 Blind Alibi Paul Dover
Sky Giant Capt. W.R. "Stag" Cahill
1939 Twelve Crowded Hours Nick Green
Man of Conquest Sam Houston
Here I Am a Stranger Duke Allen
Reno William Shayne aka Bill Shear
1940 The Marines Fly High Lt. Danny Darrick
Men Against the Sky Phil Mercedes
Cherokee Strip Marshal Dave Lovell
1941 The Round Up Steve Payson
Badlands of Dakota Wild Bill Hickok
1942 Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die Wyatt Earp
Eyes of the Underworld Police Chief Richard Bryan
American Empire Dan Taylor
1943 Buckskin Frontier Stephen Bent
The Kansan John Bonniwell
Top Man Tom Warren
The Ghost Ship Captain Will Stone
1944 The Whistler Earl C. Conrad
The Mark of the Whistler Lee Selfridge Nugent
1945 The Power of the Whistler William Everest
Voice of the Whistler John Sinclair (John Carter)
1946 Mysterious Intruder Don Gale
The Secret of the Whistler Ralph Harrison
1947 The Thirteenth Hour Steve Reynolds (final film role)


  1. ^ The book Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses says, "Richard Dix died suddenly as a result of a heart attack while on board a ship returning from France."
  2. ^ The book A Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses says, "Dix ... died in Los Angeles, California, in the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital ..."


  1. ^ Stephens, E. J.; Wanamaker, Marc (2014). Early Poverty Row Studios. Arcadia Publishing. p. 88. ISBN 9781439648292. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  2. ^ Obituary Variety, September 21, 1949.
  3. ^ "("Richard Dix" search results)". Academy Awards Database. Retrieved May 28, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b Slide, Anthony (2010). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813127088. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  5. ^ Marsh, Molly (December 16, 1934). "Richard Dix---A Gentleman of the Soil". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 62. Retrieved May 26, 2017 – via open access
  6. ^ Motion Picture Daily, "Richard Dix Is Ill," October 27, 1948, p. 2.
  7. ^ Critchlow, Donald T. (October 21, 2013). When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. ISBN 9781107650282.
  8. ^ The Advertiser (Adelaide), "Richard Dix Ill", 14 September 1949, p. 1.
  9. ^ Katchmer, George A. (2009). A Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses. McFarland. p. 96. ISBN 9781476609058. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  10. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476625997 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "Richard Dix". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on May 28, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2017.


  • Dix, Robert. Out of Hollywood: Two Generations of Actors. Ernest Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9822436-0-2
  • Van Neste, Dan. "The Whistler: Stepping Into the Shadows". Albany, GA: BearManor Media, 2011. ISBN 978-1-59393-402-6

External links[edit]