|The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.|
Archie Raymond Twitchell
AKA Michael Brandan/Brandon/Branden
appeared in at least 19 westerns and 2 serials
Died in a 1957 airplane crash
(From Old Corral collection)
Above - Al 'Fuzzy' St. John and Lash LaRue battle it out with Archie Twitchell in a lobby card from THE VANISHING OUTPOST (Ron Ormand/Screen Guild, 1951). Twitchell appeared in four of these Ron Ormond produced oaters with Lash which were released in 1950 - 1952.
Archie Raymond Twitchell was born November 28, 1906 in Pendleton, Oregon to Lon E. Twitchell and Julia Smith. His Hollywood career consisted of about a hundred films and a few 1950s TV shows scattered over a twenty year period from the late 1930s through the mid 1950s. About one fifth are westerns and serials. His early movie work occurred at Paramount and the November 4 and November 29, 1937 issues of Film Daily had blurbs on him signing with that studio. Excerpts from those articles:
"... Archie Twitchell, film laboratory employee, recently signed after playing a comedy role in a studio club play."
" Twitchell, employed as a technician, was given a player's contract after appearing in a comedy produced by the studio club."
There was a break during World War II when he did military service in the Air Corps / Air Force.
Among his better B western roles:
Les Adams has him identified in 90+ films which includes 19 westerns and 2 serials. Sometimes billed as Archie Twitchell and sometimes as Michael Branden, he worked at Republic Pictures in about thirty westerns, serials and other features scattered over the years 1939 - 1951. Included in that number was the aforementioned Autry ROBIN HOOD OF TEXAS as well as the five with Roy Rogers.
Twitchell also shows up in unbilled roles in A grade films. Example: at the end of John Ford's FORT APACHE (Argosy/RKO, 1948), cavalry officer John Wayne is chatting with a group of newspaper reporters. Archie is one of the reporters.
Twitchell worked for Douglas Aircraft and was co-pilot on a test flight of a Douglas DC-7B airplane. He was killed in a mid-air collision with an Air Force fighter plane on January 31, 1957. Debris fell on a school and church area in Pacoima, California, and several children were killed and dozens were injured. There's more on this mid-air collision at:
The Google Newspaper archive has an article on the crash: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19570201&id=s4RWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mOYDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4919,268331&hl=en
The East Oregonian newspaper website has an article on Pendleton, Oregon native Archie Twitchell, his Hollywood career, and death in the plane crash: https://www.eastoregonian.com/community/vault/pendleton-native-turned-actor-dies-in-fiery-crash/article_b58c54a1-c145-5d0a-9e81-ee10c5b2fba6.html
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Archie Twitchell: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0878613/
The Family Search website (free), ProQuest obituaries, and the California Death Index provide more on Archie Twitchell and family:
Find A Grave site has a photo of the marker for U.S. Air Force Captain Archie R. Twitchell at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10115/archie-twitchell
(Courtesy of Dale Crawford & Jim Sorensen)
|Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California, Lot 3, Section 12471, Memorial I.|
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Archie Twitchell, Frank LaRue and Francis Walker in a scene from PRAIRIE STRANGER (Columbia, 1941) which starred Charles Starrett. This was Archie's only appearance with Starrett.
(From Old Corral collection)
Above - Lash LaRue vs. Archie Twitchell in a still from THE VANISHING OUTPOST (Ron Ormand/Screen Guild, 1951).