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Saddle Pals & Sidekicks

Emmett Lynn

Full name: Emmett Earl Lynn

1897 - 1958

Nicknames: "Pappy", "Pap", more

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Emmett Lynn as "Ezra", the whiskered sidekick to singing cowboy Eddie Dean in THE CARAVAN TRAIL (PRC, 1946). Dean is riding War Paint, the first of his four movie horses.

Emmett Lynn was born February, 1897 to Edward W. Lynn and Minnie Irene Lynn (both born in Iowa). Seems that Emmett was confused with his beginnings - on his World War I draft registration, he reported his birth info as February 14, 1895 in Rock Island, Illinois. That changed to February 13, 1897 and Muscatine, Iowa on his World War II draft registration. Either location could be correct as the driving distance between those locations is about 30 miles. The 1900 census shows his birth info as February, 1897 in Iowa.

The family was living in Iowa for the 1900 census and father Edward was a "railroad brakeman". In 1910, "railroad brakeman" Edward, Minnie, son Emmett, and four other sons and two daughters were in Colorado. In the 1920 census, father Edward, Minnie and a couple sons have re-located to Minneapolis, and Edward had become a "Manager - Heating Company".

Emmett was another B western player who learned acting skills in vaudeville and traveling repertory companies. Earliest mentions of his stage work is a 1913 play in Des Moines, Iowa (where he was living). And he was in Des Moines at the time of the 1915 Iowa Census and 1917 World War I draft registration. There is also a 1913 marriage (and 1915 divorce) of Emmett and Beatrice Graves in Des Moines.

Some biographies claim that Emmett did films at Vitagraph circa 1909, 1913, etc. Very doubtful that he did any movie work until decades later.

Around 1918, Emmett married Florence M. Morse who had a stage name of "Fawn Lynn". About 1929, after years of working for other bosses, he assembled his own touring company, the "Emmett Lynn Musical Comedy Players".

There are lots of traces of Emmett and Fawn during the years 1913-1932 and I've included dates, locations and some article excerpts. The issues of Variety are available at the Internet Archive. A few of the newspaper articles are available at the Library of Congress (and links to those articles are further down on this webpage).

1924 - in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Emmett, wife Fawn and other players were on an extended stay in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1924.

Each week they'd do a new play.

This ad is from May 31, 1924 and the current production was 'Tennessee' ... paired up with the movie ONE STOLEN NIGHT (Vitagraph, 1923).

The comedy 'Daffy Down Dilly' was next week's attraction.

March, 1925 - Emmett and Fawn are with the Novelty Players and performing in Joplin, Missouri.

Emmett was a busy guy in the 1920s. But times were changing and vaudeville was dying. A brief (and overly simplified) description of that period:

During the 1910s and 1920s, many theaters ran a silent film and also featured live performances by one or more individuals or groups that did songs, comedy, sketches, etc. In many cases, those silents were played at theaters built for vaudeville acts. By the late 1920s, a significant change was occurring at the theaters - basically, they had to streamline, adapt and cut costs. Reasons included the need to economize due to the Depression ... the arrival of talking pictures ... and movie houses being wired for sound. Additionally, youngsters and adults discovered that radio provided their afternoon and evening entertainment. One of the major events that confirmed vaudeville's demise was the late 1932 conversion of New York City's famed Palace Theatre to a movies only operation.

With vaudeville in decline, the 1930s must have been a tough decade for Emmett. And wife Fawn was seriously ill and living with her family in Minneapolis. Newspapers and tradepapers had coverage:

Given a second chance, Emmett Lynn made a career change to the movie business. Beginning in 1940, he (mostly) free-lanced, doing credited and uncredited roles in A and B grade movies, and was generally typecast as an old codger playing a barfly, townsman, drunk, prospector, etc. To B western fans, he's remembered as a fumbling, bumbling sidekick ... and your recollection of Emmett may include his later uniform which consisted of a coonskin/skunk cap and a buckskin jacket.

There were Summer, 1940 announcements of Lynn's first series as a western hero helper:

As noted, Lynn wound up playing Tim Holt's helper "Whopper" at RKO, and the third member of the team was singer and song writer Ray Whitley. No buckskin jacket and animal fur on his head in these - Emmett wore a regular cowboy hat, vest, and his beard and hair were still dark in color. He did four Holts before leaving (and his replacement in the Holt series was Lee 'Lasses' White). In the mid 1940s, he was "Ezra", the first saddle pal to singing cowboy Eddie Dean at Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). Lynn exited after three, and Roscoe Ates came on board as Dean's stuttering assistant "Soapy" Jones. A few years later, he was "Buckskin Blodgett" in a quartet of 1949-1950 Red Ryder films that starred Jim Bannon.

At Republic Pictures, Emmett worked often in the Red Ryder adventures (with both Allan Lane and Bill Elliott) as well as the Don Barry series. He also appeared in a few Republics with Monte Hale, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne, and shows up in a quartet of Republic's Judy Canova films. At PRC, Emmett had roles in four of the Buster Crabbe Billy the Kid/Billy Carson series and a solo appearance with the Texas Rangers. At Columbia, he did five with Charles Starrett as well as a couple of Three Stooges shorts.

Emmett is a judge - and there's all kinds of chaos in the courtroom - in FRONTIER OUTLAWS (PRC, 1944), a rather sloppy and weak entry in the Buster Crabbe Billy the Kid/Billy Carson series. In the Trail Blazers' adventure BLAZING GUNS (Monogram, 1943), lawmen Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson battle Leroy Mason, Welden Heyburn, Charlie King and others. Emmett (as "Eagle-Eye") is one of Ken and Hoot's helpers and loses his life in the ending gun battle. And in the Charles Starrett/Durango Kid FIGHTING FRONTIERSMAN (Columbia, 1945), Lynn has a meaty role as a prospector captured by a gang after he discovers a stash of General Santa Ana's gold. Footage of Lynn and the Santa Ana story was re-used in Starrett's last, THE KID FROM BROKEN GUN (Columbia, 1952).

On a few occasions, Emmett played a non-sidekick, non-comic role. For example, in the Don Barry STAGECOACH EXPRESS (Republic, 1942), he's the double-crossing manager of heroine Lynn Merrick's stageline. And Emmett wears a suit, has dark hair and glasses ... and no whiskers or 'stache. A good example of Lynn in an A grade film is his portrayal of Ava Gardner's printer "Josh" in the Clark Gable LONE STAR (MGM, 1952).

He's in a few 1950s television programs including episodes of THE LONE RANGER as well as SKY KING, DEATH VALLEY DAYS, GENE AUTRY, more. Some of you may have DVDs of the Lone Ranger TV series. Look for the episode titled "The Legion of Old Timers" from season one in 1949. In that, Emmett helps the Lone Ranger and Tonto overcome Norman Willis and Lane Bradford. And ol' Emmett gets more screen time and dialog than Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. No animal hat and buckskin coat - Lynn wears a cowboy hat and a blue jean jacket. One of his last roles was in "Rick's Riding Lesson", a 1958 episode of THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET TV show. Lynn plays a stable hand and looks really old and well worn.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Lynn appeared in four of the Buster Crabbe Billy the Kid/Billy Carson oaters at PRC. Above - Emmett and an older Charlie King do some arm wrasslin' in a scene from Crabbe's GANGSTER'S DEN (PRC, 1945). Good view of Emmett's size and height.

(From Old Corral collection)

Left to right are Sarah Padden, Emmett Lynn (as "Uncle Ezra"), Eddie Dean, Jennifer Holt and Al LaRue - in his days before becoming 'Lash' - in a lobby card from the Cinecolor SONG OF OLD WYOMING (PRC, 1945), Dean's first starring western.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

L-to-R are Don Kay "Little Brown Jug" Reynolds (as Little Beaver), Jim Bannon, and Emmett Lynn (as "Buckskin Blodgett") in a scene from RIDE, RYDER, RIDE (Eagle Lion, 1949), the first of four Red Ryder adventures that starred Jim Bannon. All four were filmed in two-strip Cinecolor.

There was controversy about whether Emmett was hired to play the drunken "Uncle Birdie Steptoe" in the Robert Mitchum THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (Paul Gregory Productions/United Artists, 1955). There's a documentary on the film and includes some dailies with Lynn in that role. More on this in a box further down on this webpage.

Les Adams has Lynn identified in 137 sound films - that number includes 82 westerns and 3 cliffhangers.

I always chuckle when Lynn is on screen. Give him a line or two of dialog. He'd add some wild or incredulous facial expressions ... twist and contort his body ... and swing his arms to and fro. And sure enough, he'd steal the scene.

A tragedy for Emmett and wife Fawn was covered by an AP wire story published in many December 7-8, 1953 newspapers. Excerpts:

"Lynn plays a clown in a Clyde Beatty Circus movie being filmed here (Phoenix, Arizona)." "When his role was over, Lynn asked permission to leave for his home in Hollywood. He said his wife had telephoned at dawn, minutes after their 17-year-old daughter, Fawn Lynn, died of leukemia."

That film was the Mickey Spillane RING OF FEAR (Wayne-Fellows Productions/Warners, 1954) and Emmett is the alcoholic "Twitchy the clown" who gets blackmailed and commits sabotage against the circus. Other than this article, I've been unable to find any information on the passing of Emmett's daughter ... or that he even had a daughter. This remains a mystery.

Emmett Lynn passed away at his home on October 20, 1958 from coronary/heart problems.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Emmett Lynn:

The Internet Broadway Database has Emmett Lynn in a single play in 1931, the short-lived comedy "Gasoline Gypsies":

Newspapers with Emmett Lynn articles are available at the Chronicling America, Library of Congress website and Google Newspaper archive. (The LOC links below will download a pdf file which should open in your web browser/pdf viewer. Enter "Emmett" in your pdf viewer Search function.)

On the trail of Emmett Lynn and family.
The Family Search website (free), (subscription), ProQuest obituaries, California Death Index and the death certificate provide more information on Emmett Lynn and family. When searching for info on Lynn, I was surprised at his 1897 (or 1895) birth year ... which means he wasn't yet fifty years old when he was doing those mid 1940s Eddie Dean oaters at PRC. He looked years older.

  • August 13, 1892 marriage record of Emmett's parents, E. W. Lynn and Minnie Turner, in New Sharon, Mahaska County, Iowa:
  • 1900 census - renting in Prairie Township, New Sharon, Mahaska County, Iowa were 31 year old Edward W. Lynn (born Iowa; occupation "Railroad Brakeman"), his 28 year old wife Minnie I. (born Iowa), two sons (Mearl [sic] and 3 year old Emmit [sic] (born Iowa)) and two daughters (Cecile M. and Iola M.):
  • 1905 Iowa census has two different records for Emmett:
    living in Poweshiek County, Iowa is Emmet [sic] Lynn, about 8 years old, and born about 1897 in Iowa:
    living in Grundy County, Iowa is Emmit [sic] Lynn, about 8 years old, and born about 1897 in Iowa:
  • 1905 Iowa census had parents Edward and Minnie living in different Iowa counties:
    living in Grundy County, Iowa is 34 year old Edward W. Lynn, born in Iowa about 1871, married, and occupation "laborer":
    living in Poweshiek County, Iowa is 32 year old Mrs. Minnie Lynn, born in Iowa about 1873, married, occupation "house keeper":
  • 1910 census - renting on South Mohawk Court, West Sheridan, Arapahoe County, Colorado were 40 year old Edward W. Lynn (born Iowa; occupation "Railroad Brakeman"), his 36 year old wife Minnie I. (born Iowa), two daughters (Cecil M. and Marie I.) and five sons (Merl W., Leslie, Opie, Lyle and 13 year old Emmett Lynn (born Iowa)):
  • August 12, 1913 marriage record of Emmett Lynn (about 19 years old) to Beatrice Graves (born about 1895) in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa. His parents were Edward Lynn and Minnie Turner. Her parents were A. L. Graves and Cleo Wright:
  • Ancestry had the 1913 Des Moines, Iowa City Directory: Emmett Lynn, actor, resides at 1510 20th.
  • Ancestry has a family tree created by a Graves family member. It indicates that Emmett and Beatrice divorced in 1915 and they had no children.
  • 1915 Iowa census - living in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa was Emmett E. Lynn. He is about 18 years old and born about 1897 in Iowa; is single; completed seven years of grammar school; occupation "Actor"; and his 1914 earnings were $750.00:
  • World War I draft registration dated June 5, 1917 - 22 year old Emmett Earl Lynn lived in Des Moines, Iowa. He was born February 14, 1895 in Rock Island, Illinois; is married; and employment is "Capitol City Employment Co." and he is "Part owner of company":
  • 1920 census for Emmett's parents - renting at 3040 Fifth Avenue, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota were 50 year old Edward W. Lynn (born Iowa; occupation "Manager - Heating Company"), his 43 year old wife Minnie I. (born Iowa), two sons (Merril W. and Lester L.) and a boarder:
  • 1930 census - renting on North 8th Street, Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania were 31 year old Emmett E. Lynn (born Iowa) and his 26 year old wife Fawn M. (born Minnesota). Their occupations are "Actor -Theater" and "Actress - Theater". Emmett answers "Yes" and World War I to the military veteran question. They were married when he was 19 and she was 15 years old, which would be a marriage date of about 1918:
  • 1930 census for Emmett's parents - renting at 407 Jackson Street, Peoria, Illinois were 61 year old Edward W. Lynn (born Iowa; occupation "Salesman - Advertising") and his 56 year old wife Irene (born Iowa). "Irene" was the middle name of wife Minnie I.:
  • 1940 census for Emmett's parents - renting at unit #49, 648 West Oakdale Avenue, Chicago, Illinois were 71 year old Edward W. Lynn (born Iowa) and his 67 year old wife Minnie (born Iowa). Edward is retired:
  • World War II draft registration for 45 year old Emmett Earl Lynn. Home address was 6627 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California; born February 13, 1897 in Muscatine, Iowa; occupation was "Free lance actor"; and contact was Jack Pomeroy, his agent:
  • Ancestry had 1942 and 1944 Los Angeles County voter registrations for:
    Lynn, Emmett E, 6627 Franklin av, occupation actor
  • Both of Emmett's parents passed away in Chicago in 1945:
    Illinois Death Index - Edward William Lynn, born September 19, 1869 in Posheik [sic] County, Iowa. Occupation was "Brakeman RR"; wife was Minnie Irene Lynn; and they lived in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. He passed away on February 14, 1945 in Chicago:
    Illinois Death Index - Minnie I. Lynn, born January 4, 1873 in Iowa. Occupation was "Housewife"; husband was Edward Lynn; and they lived in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. She passed away on May 23, 1945 in Chicago:
    Funeral notice for Emmett's father Edward in the February 16, 1945 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune. Excerpt: "Edward W. Lynn, Feb. 14, 1945, of 4632 Magnolia avenue, beloved husband of Minnie I., fond father of ... Emmett E., Marie W., Opal, Leslie and Lyle."
    Funeral notice for Emmett's mother Minnie in the May 24, 1945 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune. Excerpt: "Minnie I. Lynn of 4632 Magnolia avenue, May 23, 1945, beloved wife of the late Edward W., fond mother of ... Emmett ..."
  • Death certificate - 61 year old Emmett Lynn was born February 14, 1897 in Iowa; was divorced; parents are listed as unknown; was not a Military veteran; occupation "Actor - Free Lance - Motion Pictures". He passed away on October 20, 1958 at his home at 11943 Ventura Boulevard, Los Angeles. Cause of death was ventricular fibrillation and coronary occlusion. Pierce Bros. Hollywood was the funeral director and burial at Valhalla Memorial Park. Death certificate informant was Allison Turner, Glendale, California (unsure who she was and her relationship to Emmett).
  • California Death Index has a record for Emmett Lynn which mirrors the death certificate. He was born February 14, 1897 in Iowa, and he passed away October 20, 1958 in the Los Angeles area:
  • The Los Angeles Times ran funeral notices in the October 21, 22, 23 and 24, 1958 newspaper editions. All four carried the same (extremely brief) notice: "LYNN, Emmett. Pierce Bros Hollywood."
Jim Sorensen and Dale Crawford, who have provided lots of grave marker photos on the Old Corral, advised that Lynn is buried at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California, but his gravesite has no marker.

Emmett's actress wife Fawn Lynn (real name: Florence M. Morse).

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) provide more info on Fawn Lynn. Her birth name was Florence Morse and she was born in Minnesota in 1901 and about 9 years old in the 1910 census. Recall the 1933 and 1941 articles in Variety about her being ill and living in Minnesota. In the 1940 census, Fawn Lynn is living in Minneapolis with her mother and sisters.

  • 1910 census - living in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota are 54 year old Frederick L. Morse (born Ohio), his 53 year old wife Florence H. (born Michigan), 28 year old son Cecil H. (born Minnesota), and four daughters: 19 year old Edna B. (born Minnesota), 16 year old Bernice (born Minnesota), 12 year old Eloise (born Minnesota), and 9 year old Florence (born Minnesota):
  • 1920 census - living in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota are 64 year old Fred Morse (born Ohio), his 62 year old wife Florence (born Michigan), 21 year old daughter Eloise (born Minnesota), 27 year old daughter Bernice Mcaffry [sic] (born Minnesota) and her 28 year old husband Thomas Mcaffry [sic] (born Pennsylvania):
  • 1940 census - living in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota is 38 year old Fawn Lynn (born Minnesota; married), and she is the sister of the head of household, 43 year old Bernice McCaffery (born Minnesota; divorced). Also present are 40 year old sister Eloyse (born Minnesota; single), 83 year old mother Florence Morse (born Michigan; widowed), 31 year old Evelyn Harlow (born Minnesota; divorced) and 10 year old Joan Harlow (born Texas):
    1940 census takers worksheet - unsure why there's a line drawn through the "M" married designation for Fawn Lynn:
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has a record for Fawn M. Lynn, born May 30, 1901 in Minnesota, passed away on January 26, 1990, and last residence was Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Questions ... and things I didn't find.

In the 1930 census, Emmett claimed to be a World War I veteran. I did not find any military records to confirm that.

I could not find a 1940 census record on Emmett. I tried various spellings of his first and last names - Emmett, Emmet, Emmitt, Emmit, Everett, Lynn, Lyn, Linn, Lin, Flynn, etc.

Unsure if Emmett and Fawn remained married, or if/when they divorced.

I found no birth or census information on Emmett and Fawn having any children, including a daughter named Fawn Lynn who was about 17 years old and passed from leukemia when Emmett was working on RING OF FEAR (Wayne-Fellows Productions/Warners, 1954). I checked for obituaries and death information at FamilySearch,, California Death Index, ProQuest obituaries,, and the Newspaper Archive for a girl with a last name of Lynn (and other spelling variables) who passed away in December, 1953.

Clipping on the death of Emmett's daughter Fawn Lynn in the December 8, 1953 Arizona Republic newspaper:

Yes! Emmett Lynn was originally cast as 'Uncle Birdie Steptoe' in the Robert Mitchum THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955).

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER ( Paul Gregory Productions/United Artists, 1955) was produced by Paul Gregory and directed by famed actor Charles Laughton. The drunk 'Uncle Birdie Steptoe' was played by screen veteran James Gleason. But there are rumors that Emmett Lynn was the initial choice for that role.

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has a lengthy writeup on THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. Quote:

"Outtakes from The Night of the Hunter, restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archives, reveal that Emmett Lynn was originally cast as 'Uncle Birdie Steptoe,' and was replaced by James Gleason after production began. According to modern sources, Laughton was not pleased with Lynn's performance."

The TCM article is at:

Tom Longden authored a "Famous Iowans" column on Emmett Lynn in the July 1, 2007 Des Moines (Iowa) Register newspaper and includes comments that Lynn was not considered by director Charles Laughton for the role of 'Uncle Birdie Steptoe' in THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (Paul Gregory Productions/United Artists, 1955):

I jotted some notes from Longden's article which had input from THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER producer Paul Gregory:

"Gregory says director Charles Laughton did not reject Lynn in favor of veteran character actor James Gleason. 'I cast every part in that movie,' says Gregory, adding that Lynn was never under consideration for the role of Birdie Steptoe."

Turns out that producer Paul Gregory's recollections on Emmett Lynn were faulty.

In September, 2021, Matthew Blanchette e-mailed with news and further confirmation that Lynn was originally cast as 'Uncle Birdie Steptoe' in THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (MGM, 1955). Thanks Matthew!:

"They shot for two days before director Charles Laughton replaced him with James Gleason.

A complete set of dailies from production on 'The Night of the Hunter' has survived at UCLA, two hours of which were included on a 2010 home video release of 'The Night of the Hunter' by the Criterion Collection. And some of Emmett Lynn's footage was included.

Fortunately, the collated dailies have been curated into a two-hour documentary. Robert Gitt (of UCLA) is the archivist who preserved the footage, and narrates the documentary which is available on YouTube.

Here's Emmett Lynn and young Billy Chapin in a clip from the documentary:

There's also a book about the film entitled The Night of the Hunter: A Biography of a Film (Northwestern University Press, 2009), by Jeffrey Couchman, which also provides the reader with helpful context about the film, Laughton, Lynn, et al."

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Emmett Lynn, Black Jack O'Shea (without his normal moustache), Charlie King and Al LaRue in a lobby card from CARAVAN TRAIL (PRC, 1946), one of Eddie Dean's CineColor westerns.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Black Jack O'Shea, Al LaRue, Charlie King, Eddie Dean and Emmett Lynn in a lobby card from CARAVAN TRAIL (PRC, 1946).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Emmett Lynn, Al LaRue, Charlie King and Eddie Dean in another lobby card from CARAVAN TRAIL (PRC, 1946).

(From Old Corral collection)

From L-to-R are Tom London, Allan Lane with Peggy Stewart in his arms, whiskered Emmett Lynn, Pierce Lyden, and in the front is Bobby Blake as Little Beaver. Lobby card from RUSTLERS OF DEVIL'S CANYON (Republic, 1947), one of the Red Ryder adventures.

Emmett appeared in six Red Ryders at Republic Pictures - four with Allan Lane and two with Bill Elliott.

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