Rex Bell (born George Francis Beldam; October 16, 1903 – July 4, 1962) was an American actor and politician. Bell primarily appeared in Western films during his career. He also appeared in the 1930 movie True to the Navy, starring Clara Bow; Bell and Bow married the following year.
Bell later became involved in politics with the Nevada Republican Party and was the 21st Lieutenant Governor of Nevada from 1955 until his death in 1962.
Bell was born George Francis Beldam in Chicago on October 16, 1903.
Bell made his film debut in Wild West Romance in 1928, and went on to act in a number of films, mostly Westerns, in which he had the lead role. Fox Film executives were reported to be grooming Bell to be a successor to Tom Mix. He left the movie industry in 1936, although he had generally small roles in a few later films.
In 1931, Bell and his wife, actress Clara Bow, founded the Walking Box Ranch, at Searchlight, Nevada.
His final film appearance was in The Misfits (1961).
In 1944, Bell ran for the United States House of Representatives on the Republican ticket against Democrat Berkeley Bunker. The Nevada State Journal commented on November 1: “He has made friends where ever he appeared, but consensus is that the time is too short to overcome a handicap of not being so well known as his opponent”. The election was held November 7, and Bell got 19,096 votes while Bunker received 36,648.
Bell was the leader of the Nevada Republican Party and in 1948 was an alternate to the Republican National Convention. He was also active in the Nevada Chamber of Commerce and Boy Scouts.
The ties Bell forged during those years helped him win the Lieutenant Governor’s office in 1954. That election year, Charles H. Russell, the incumbent Republican governor, also won. In 1958, Democrat Grant Sawyer unseated Russell, but Bell won re-election as Lieutenant Governor (Bell and his Nevada state political position are mentioned in John D. MacDonald’s 1960 novel The Only Girl in the Game). Bell died after giving a campaign speech on July 4th, 1962, while running for governor, still in office, of a heart attack in 1962, at the El Rancho Vegas in Las Vegas.
Bell was host of the program Cowboys and Injuns in 1950. It began on a station in Los Angeles and went on to be broadcast on ABC. The show focused on legends that were derived from folklore of cowboys and Native Americans in the United States.
Bell operated Rexco, Incorporated, which manufactured and distributed novelty gift items. He and his brother also had two clothing stores in Nevada.
Bell married actress Clara Bow in 1931. They had two sons, Tony Beldam, who changed his name to Rex Anthony Bell Jr., and George Beldam Jr. Rex Bell Jr. appeared in two Western films—Stage to Thunder Rock (1964), in the role of “Shotgun Rex”, and Young Fury (1965), and later served as district attorney of Clark County from 1987 to 1995.
The Rex Bell Elementary School in Las Vegas was named in honor of Bell.
|1928||Wild West Romance||Phil O’Malley|
|1928||The Cowboy Kid||Jim Barrett|
|1928||Girl-Shy Cowboy||Joe Benson|
|1928||Taking a Chance||Joe Courtney|
|1929||Pleasure Crazed||Peters (chauffeur)|
|1929||Happy Days||Rex Bell|
|1929||They Had to See Paris||Clark McCurdy|
|1930||Harmony at Home||Dick Grant|
|1930||True to the Navy||Eddie|
|1930||Lightnin’||Larry – Betty’s Husband|
|1931||Battling with Buffalo Bill||Dave Archer||Serial|
|1931||Forgotten Women||Jimmy Burke|
|1931||Law of the Sea||Cole Andrews|
|1932||The Arm of the Law||Robin Dale|
|1932||Broadway to Cheyenne||Breezy Kildare|
|1932||The Man From Arizona||Kent Rogers|
|1932||Lucky Larrigan||Craig Larrigan – posing as Tex aka Lucky|
|1932||Crashin’ Broadway||Tad Wallace|
|1933||Diamond Trail||Speed Morgan – posing as Frisco Eddie|
|1933||Fighting Texans||Randy Graves|
|1933||The Fugitive||Joe Kean|
|1933||Rainbow Ranch||Ed Randall|
|1933||Hollywood on Parade No. A-8||Himself||Short|
|1934||The Tonto Kid||Skeets Slawson aka The Tonto Kid|
|1935||Fighting Pioneers||Lieutenant Bentley|
|1935||Border Vengeance||Announced Rodeo Guest Star||Uncredited|
|1935||Saddle Aces||Steve Brandt|
|1936||Too Much Beef||Johnny Argyle alias Tucson Smith|
|1936||West of Nevada||Jim Carden, posing as Jim Lloyd|
|1936||Men of the Plains||Jim Dean – aka Tom Porter|
|1936||Idaho Kid||Todd Hollister aka Idaho|
|1936||Law and Lead||Jimmy Sawyer|
|1936||Stormy Trails||Tom Storm|
|1942||Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die||Virgil Earp|
|1942||Dawn on the Great Divide||Jack Carson|
|1952||Lone Star||Minor Role||Uncredited|
|1952||Sky Full of Moon||Himself||Uncredited|
|1961||The Misfits||Old Cowboy||Uncredited, (final film role)|