Saturday, October 5, 2013

Character actress BETTY ROADMAN and THE LONE RIDER RIDES AGAIN (Republic, 1939)

As anyone who loves classic B Westerns and serials will recognize, there is a dearth in Them Thar Hills of women. At least of women I'll suited for romantic interest. If the young and blossoming ingenue often has a father or uncle she almost never comes complete with a living mother. Perhaps this lack of married couples with offspring is like the old Walt Disney cartoon characters who only had nephews or nieces lest the specter of SEXUAL RELATIONS should rudely intrude on the fairytales.

But sometimes ladies of a certain age did turn up in Westerns, usually as comedy relief spinsters (Fern Emmett) or shopkeepers (former silent stars Clara Kimball Young and Marin Sais; the latter even followed Maude Allen, Alice Fleming and Martha Wentworth to play that ultimate horse opera dowager, The Duchess in the Red Ryder series). Then there was the towns woman/nester's wife/wagon train woman, who was little more than an extra. She was usually played by Rose Plumer or Helen Gilbert, of Hazards of a Helen fame, or Betty Roadman. The latter turns up as Ma Daniells, Henry Otho's pioneer wife in the fine, and by the Serial Squadron, lovingly restored, 1939 chapter-play The Lone Ranger Rides Again. 

Miss Roadman, who was apparently born Elizabeth Nickell in Fulton, MO, played a host of such roles, including matrons, nurses, and simply "woman," on screen for about 10 years beginning in 1938. She died at the age of 85 in Anaheim, CA, in 1975.


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