Ates in 1933
|Born||January 20, 1895|
Grange, Mississippi, U.S.
|Died||March 1, 1962 (aged 67)|
Encino, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California|
(m. 1923; div. 1945)
Leonore Belle Jumps
(m. 1949; her death 1955)
Beatrice Angelina Naranjo
(m. 1960; his death 1962)
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. He was also billed as Rosco Ates.
Ates was born on January 20, 1895, in the rural hamlet of Grange, northwest of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Grange is no longer included on road maps. Ates spent much of his childhood overcoming a severe speech impediment, finally succeeding when he was 18.
Ates played his violin to accompany silent films at a theater in Chickasha, Oklahoma. 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. For 15 years, he was a headliner on the Orpheum Circuit, and he revived his long-gone stutter for humorous effect
Theater and personal appearances
On Broadway, Ates appeared as James McCracken in the musical comedy Sea Legs (1937).
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.
His first film role was a ship's cook in South Sea Rose. The next year he was cast as "Old Stuff" in the widescreen film Billy the Kid starring Wallace Beery. In 1931, Ates appeared in fourteen films, with some roles uncredited. Here is a partial listing of his films:
- Check and Double Check (1930) as Brother Arthur, film based on the Amos 'n' Andy Radio program
- Cimarron (1931) as Jesse Rickey, based on the Edna Ferber novel about Oklahoma
- The Champ (1931), as Sponge. The filmed stars Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper.
- Politics (1931) as Peter Higgins, the town barber. The film stars Marie Dressler and Polly Moran.
- Come on Danger! (1932)
- Renegades of the West (1932), as Dr. Henry Fawcett
- Freaks (1932) stars Olga Baclanova
- The Roadhouse Murder (1932)
- Lucky Devils (1933)
- What! No Beer? (1933), as Schultz the Brewmaster. The film stars Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante.
- Alice in Wonderland (1933) as Fish
- Fair Exchange (1936), as Elmer Goodge
- God's Country and the Woman (1937) as Gander Hopkins
- The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1938) as Oscar "Snake-Eyes" Smith. Bill Elliott played Hickok.
- Gone with the Wind (1939) as a convalescing Confederate soldier. While scratching his back on a tent pole, he utters the line "These animules is driving me crazy!"
- Three Texas Steers (1939), a John Wayne film, features Ates as Sheriff Brown
- The Cowboy from Sundown (1940), a Tex Ritter film, with Ates as Deputy Gloomy Day
- Captain Caution (1940)
- Chad Hanna (1940)
- Bad Men from Missouri (1941) as Lafe.
- Sullivan's Travels (1941)
- The Palm Beach Story (1942)
- West to Glory (1947)
- Wild Country (1947)
- Check Your Guns (1948)
- The Hawk of Powder River (1948)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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. In 1960, he married Beatrice Angelina Naranjo who survived him.
- "Roscoe Ates, 67, Comedian, Dies. Veteran Of Movies Played Stuttering Cowboy Roles". New York Times.
- "Roscoe Ates": Biography by Hal Erickson". allmovie.com. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
- Slide, Anthony (2012). The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 15. ISBN 9781617032509. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- "Exits and Entrances". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. September 25, 1929. p. 20. Retrieved February 27, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "(untitled brief))". The Times. Indiana, Munster. August 4, 1930. p. 8. Retrieved February 27, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Rosco Ates". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on February 28, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- "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 Newspapers.com.
- "Roscoe Ates". IMDB. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
- "The Marshal of Gunsight Pass: Summary". TV.com. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
- "Annie Oakley". retroland.com. Archived from the original on December 10, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- "Roscoe Ates Filmography". Fandango.com. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
- "Mrs. Roscoe Ates". New York Times. May 20, 1955.
- "Roscoe Ates". NNDB.com. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
- "Roscoe Ates burial site". Findagrave.com. Retrieved March 1, 2009.