The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show


Roy Barcroft         (1902-1969)

Roy Barcroft

Big Roy

An Army veteran and jack-of-all-trades, Roy started his film career in 1931. A fixture of "B" movies in the 1940's, Roy played film heavies and villains before moving to the small screen. He was in all three Spin and Marty serials as the owner of the Triple R.

Roy (hatless) in 'Code of the Prairie' (1944) 'Jesse James Rides Again' (1947) Roy (center) in 'Don Daredevil Rides Again' (1951)

Background

He was born Howard Harold Ravenscroft on September 7, 1902, in eastern Nebraska, the third child of William Ravenscroft and Lillian Williams. Roy's father was a medicine salesman and sometime farmer. Roy's mother was forty-eight when he was born, and his sister Mabel and brother Willie were both much older than him.

Roy lied about his age to enlist in the Army during World War I. He was wounded in France, and when discharged, wound up living with his sister and brother-in-law in Seattle, where he worked as a carpenter's helper. In his early twenties he roamed the US doing odd jobs such as ranch hand, roughneck, and railway laborer. He rejoined the military in the 1920's and was stationed in Honolulu, where he learned to play clarinet well enough to join a dance band. After his second discharge, he moved to Oak Park, Illinois, where he sold cars for a living, and married a woman named Lela in 1928, with whom he had a daughter, Roberta.

By 1931 Roy had evidently moved to California, for he turned up as an uncredited extra in a picture that year, and the next. He divorced his first wife and married Vera Thompson, with whom he had two sons, Michael and Howard Junior. By 1935 he was starting to appear regularly in low-grade westerns and serials at poverty-row studios like Monogram. The slightly more upscale Republic Studio took him on in the early 1940's, and from 1943 to 1953 he was a contract player there. It's been estimated that he appeared in over two hundred grade B westerns and serials during this time, in the vast majority of which he played villains.

Performance

Roy played Colonel J. P. Logan, the owner of the Triple R Ranch, on all three Spin and Marty series. In the first serial, we learn that Marty Markham's father was the executive officer on board Logan's ship in WWII, which is why Logan takes such an interest in Marty's welfare. (This seeming contradiction in branch of service is explained by reference to Jackson Gillis' own WWII experience as an Army officer whose regiment was transported by troopships). Naturally, there wasn't anything about the three series to stretch Roy as an actor, but it must have been nice to wear a white hat for a change.

With Harry Carey Jr Logan and Frank (Stan Jones) Logan always seemed surprised or puzzled

Like the other adult actors, Roy was stuck wearing the same clothes in every episode of the series. According to Bill Cotter this was done "to allow filming scenes out of sequence without having to deal with delays for costume changes, and to move scenes around in editing if needed." Roy's personality was the opposite of the film heavies and villains he used to play. He was a warm, generous guy, with a good sense of humor, who was well-liked by everyone with whom he worked. Roy had no exalted notions about his place in the acting craft, and didn't mind playing second fiddle to a crowd of boys and horses.

Aftermath

Roy continued to appear in films and televisions shows during and after his work on the Mickey Mouse Club. He played a sheriff in the musical film Oklahoma (1955), and appeared in Perry Mason, Wanted - Dead or Alive, Cimarron Strip, and The Wild, Wild West. He took part in director William Beaudine's campy horror-western flick Billy the Kid vs Dracula (1966), along with other Spin and Marty alumni such as Lennie Geer, Melinda Plowman, and Harry Carey Jr. His last recurring part was as a storekeeper on Gunsmoke, from 1965-69. His last films were The Reivers (1969) and Monte Walsh (1970). In all, he appeared in more than three hundred movies during his career. He died of kidney cancer on November 28, 1969, at the Motion Picture Home and Hospital.

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