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James Shorttel "Jim" BANNON

Male 1911 - 1984  (73 years)

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  • Name James Shorttel "Jim" BANNON 
    Birth 9 Apr 1911  Kansas City, Jackson County, MO Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Name James Shorttel "Jim" BANNON 
    Death 28 Jul 1984  Ventura County, CA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • (1) "Jim Bannon," from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

      James Shorttel Bannon (April 9, 1911 - July 28, 1984) was a radio announcer and Hollywood Western film actor known for his work on the I Love a Mystery and Red Ryder series during the 1940s and 1950s.

      Early life

      Born in 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri, Bannon attended Rockhurst High School and Rockhurst University, where he played football, baseball, and polo. In 1944, he was ineligible (classified 4-F) for World War II service, owing to an ulcer, and therefore served as a civilian flight instructor.


      Bannon began his broadcasting career on local radio station KCKN, then briefly at KMOX in St. Louis. He moved to Los Angeles in 1937, beginning his show business career in radio as an announcer on The Great Gildersleeve, The Chase and Sanborn Hour, and Stars over Hollywood, among others, with his most prominent acting role being that of Detective Jack Packard in the serial I Love a Mystery. A motion-picture adaptation of the show, with Bannon reprising his radio character, was released by Columbia Pictures in 1945 in hopes of launching a franchise, but only two additional pictures would be produced; he later described the original film as "a weakened product" in his 1975 autobiography.

      Bannon left radio in 1946 to sign with Columbia as a contract player in his attempt to become a Western movie star, but then left the very next year for Republic Pictures. He first served as a stuntman and double before being cast as the lead in his first picture with the company, the 1948 serial Dangers of the Canadian Mounted. While filming The Man from Colorado (1949), Bannon punched director Charles Vidor during an on-set altercation. Vidor was later fired from the production because of conflicts with star William Holden and replaced by Henry Levin, who had directed Bannon in the I Love a Mystery film adaptation. Bannon teamed with Whip Wilson and Fuzzy Knight in five low-budget Westerns for Monogram Pictures, all released in 1951.

      Bannon is best known for being the last of four actors to portray the fictional cowboy Red Ryder in the long-running B-movie series, completing between 1949 and 1950 what would be the final four pictures in the franchise that were distributed by Eagle-Lion Films, after Republic had let its series rights expire. Bannon openly campaigned for the part by outfitting his car with a Texas Longhorn hood ornament and a Colt 45-style gearshift knob while dressing in Western attire. Upon being cast, he dyed his salt-and-pepper hair red and regularly visited a hairstylist in Louisville, Kentucky, to keep it maintained. Bannon said in 1965 that it was the "toughest part of" playing Red Ryder, "since the pictures were in color." His offscreen requirements in portraying the character included making personal appearances in costume across the country, in addition to a stint with the Tom Packs Circus in 1950.

      Following the end of the Red Ryder series, Bannon appeared in films of varying genres before transitioning to Western roles on television. He had a starring role in Flying A Productions' 1955 series The Adventures of Champion, which lasted for one 26-episode season. He then filmed two guest appearances on another Flying A show, Annie Oakley, the next year. Meanwhile, he and fellow Red Ryder actor Allan "Rocky" Lane shot separate pilots for a proposed television series in 1951 and 1955, respectively, but both failed to sell. Bannon relocated to Chicago in 1955 to film one season of soap opera Hawkins Falls, Population 6200.

      Bannon worked sporadically in the 1960s with bit parts on programs such as Sea Hunt, Wagon Train, and Lassie. His final role was a one-time guest spot on Death Valley Days in 1965. He then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to join radio station KTAR as a morning news broadcaster and the host of his own afternoon show.

      Personal life

      Bannon was the first husband of American actress and comedian Bea Benaderet. They wed in 1938 and had two children, Jack (1940-2017) and Maggie (born 1947). However, his Red Ryder contract obligations took a toll on their marriage, and Benaderet filed for divorce in 1950. Their son, Jack Bannon, became an actor like his parents. In 1961, Jim Bannon married Barbara Cork, twenty-three years his junior; the couple divorced in 1981.

      Later in his life, Bannon suffered from emphysema. He died in Ventura, California, on July 28, 1984, at age 73.

      (2) Chuck Anderson, "The Old Corral"

      Jim Bannon was born in Kansas City, Missouri on April 9, 1911. His radio career began in Kansas City, Kansas on KCKN followed by a stint at the CBS station KMOX in St. Louis. Around 1937, Bannon was hooked on radio work and had a decision to make — head to Chicago or to California. He chose sunny California.

      Bannon had a superb voice and did announcing and narration on a variety of radio programs, including: THE JOE PENNER SHOW (1939-40), STARS OVER HOLLYWOOD (early 1940s), THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE (1941-42), THE ADVENTURES OF NERO WOLFE (1943-44), THE EDDIE BRACKEN SHOW (1945-46), others.

      Bannon did a screen test and became a contract player at Columbia Pictures in the mid 1940s. He did a variety of bit and supporting roles and also starred as 'Jack Packard' in a trio of adventures based on the I LOVE A MYSTERY radio adventure which was authored by Carlton E. Morse (who also created the long running radio soap opera, ONE MAN'S FAMILY). After several years as a Columbia contract player, Bannon opted to free-lance and got the lead in the cliffhanger DANGERS OF THE CANADIAN MOUNTED (Republic, 1948). Later, he and comedian Fuzzy Knight were the trail pards to Whip Wilson in a handful of oaters at Monogram.

      However, Bannon is best remembered as the fourth cinema Red Ryder (after Don Barry, Wild Bill Elliott and Allan Lane) in a quartet of Cinecolor westerns released by Eagle Lion in 1949-1950. These were produced by Jack Schwarz and the father-son team of Harry and Jerry Thomas. Sadly, the Bannon reincarnation of Red Ryder was doomed to a short life — the encroachment of TV was impacting theater audiences and box office receipts and Jack Schwarz had gotten involved in some other films. You can only wonder what Bannon's western film career would have been like if he — instead of Elliott and/or Lane — had connected with Republic Pictures half a dozen years earlier and got the starring role in their Red Ryder film series.

      Jim also played 'Uncle Sandy North' in the short-lived ADVENTURES OF CHAMPION TV show for Gene Autry's Flying A production company in the mid 1950s. Also in the 1950s, Bannon had the lead in a proposed Red Ryder TV show and a pilot episode was filmed (Allan 'Rocky' Lane also filmed a Red Ryder TV pilot). The Bannon and Lane television shows didn't sell and were not picked up for broadcast.

      More on the Bannon TV pilot follows:

      The first TV pilot starred Bannon, was titled "Whiplash", and made circa 1951. Bannon appears to be wearing the same outfit that he wore when he starred in that quartet of 1949-1950 Red Ryder films for Eagle-Lion — his outfit consisted of a single gun, chaps, and a super-sized, big brimmed white hat. Olive Carey, the wife of Harry Carey Sr., plays the Duchess, and other cast members were Lyle Talbot and Dick Curtis as the villains, along with Monte Blue, Earle Hodgins and Kenneth MacDonald in support roles. There's lots of stock footage — for example, during the introduction at the beginning of the show, you can easily spot Tex Ritter (on White Flash) and Dave O'Brien from their PRC Texas Rangers films, as both lead a band of men that gallop into town. At the end, Bannon leans on a hitchin' rail and gives a sales pitch to prospective sponsors of the show. The director was Thomas A. Carr, who did a lot of work at Republic Pictures. This had to have been made circa 1951 as western movie baddie Dick Curtis passed away in January, 1952.

      Bannon was married to prolific radio and TV performer Beatrice 'Bea' Benaderet who is best known as 'Blanche Morton' on the George Burns & Gracie Allen radio and TV shows, 'Kate Bradley' on the PETTICOAT JUNCTION TVer, 'Pearl Bodine' on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, and the voice of Betty Rubble on THE FLINTSTONES. They had a son and daughter, and were divorced in 1950. Son Jack also got into films and TV, and his most remembered role was as 'assistant city editor Art Donovan' in the LOU GRANT TV program which aired from 1977-1982 and starred Ed Asner.

      Bannon did a few TV and movie supporting roles and bit parts into the 1960s — an example is his portrayal of a forest ranger in the Rock Hudson comedy MAN'S FAVORITE SPORT (Universal, 1964).

      In his later years, he resided in Plano, Texas, but returned to California. Jim Bannon passed away in Ojai, California on July 28, 1984 and was cremated.

      Les Adams has Bannon in 54 films of which 26 are westerns along with a single serial.

      The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars. In most cases, the winners were what you would expect - Autry, Rogers, Holt, Starrett, Hoppy, etc. Bannon was not ranked in either poll.

      Bannon published a trade paperback book about himself. . . . Titled The Son That Rose In The West (Devil's Hole Printery, Plano, Texas, no date listed, but about 1975), the book is 6" x 9" and has 202 pages. It is NOT the typical biography — instead, it contains letters that Bannon wrote to his parents and children during the period 1937-1961. I forgot that I had it, but it appeared during one of my periodic rummagings through the book and memorabilia piles.

      Re-reading the volume, I found many of the letters to be fascinating for not only did Bannon write about personal joys and problems, but there was a wealth of minutiae about radio, films, westerns and being a cowboy movie hero. Some tidbits from the book follow:

      Bannon headed to Hollywood to do radio announcing work, and arrived in California in 1937. He met Beatrice 'Bea' Benaderet who was a regular cast member on the George Burns and Gracie Allen radio program. They married in August, 1938, and around that time, Bannon became the announcer on the CHASE AND SANBORN / EDGAR BERGEN AND CHARLIE MCCARTHY SHOW as well as THE JOE PENNER SHOW (the Bergen and McCarthy program was at or near number one in the ratings). Bannon was also doing news at KFI (with Chet Huntley, who later, became half of the Huntley/David Brinkley newscasting team on TV). Son John (nicknamed Jack) was born in the Summer of 1940.

      Bannon learned how to fly in 1942 and for a brief period, was a civilian instructor at a glider base in 29 Palms, California (which still allowed him to continue doing radio announcing). He was classified 4-F for World War II military duty because of an ulcer.

      Around April, 1944, he did a screen test at Columbia, and the 'I Love A Mystery' film series followed, along with bit and supporting roles in a variety of films. Daughter Margaret Benaderet Bannon was born in March, 1947. In the Fall of 1947, Bannon left Columbia, severed his relationship with talent agency MCA, and started free-lancing.

      The DANGERS OF THE CANADIAN MOUNTED serial followed for Republic and Bannon notes that the weather was cold, horses weren't cooperative, and the tight pants of the mountie uniform made bending his knees difficult. He mentions that stuntman/double Tom Steele had elastic inserts sewn into the knee area of his mountie pants to insure freedom of movement during the action sequences.

      Around mid-1948, Bannon decided to become a full-fledged movie cowboy, and even fitted his white Buick convertible with steer horns as the hood ornament. In an August, 1948 letter, Bannon proclaims that he's been named the new Red Ryder. He had his hair dyed red, lines up his costume (including 'bat wing' chaps) and filming begins. He buys six white hats at a time for $35.00 each since they can't be cleaned and he goes through so many. Lots of compliments about Peggy Stewart, Don Kay 'Little Brown Jug' Reynolds (Little Beaver), Lane Bradford, Glenn Strange, others. After completing two films, Bannon goes on personal appearances. The last two Red Ryder adventures were wrapped up around March, 1950, and Bannon concludes that the series is probably over — producer Jack Schwarz is doing other films (which are not very good), and the only way the theaters will book them is to negotiate the Ryder movies at reduced prices.

      During the Summer of 1950, Jim worked with the Tom Packs Circus, and Bea Benaderet filed for divorce. He notes that the Red Ryder TV pilot was "weak" and a "pretty sad effort". He also has negative comments about the scripts in the five Monogram westerns in which he was sidekick to Whip Wilson. Finding other film roles proved difficult as he had become tagged with the Red Ryder role.

      His next stop was Chicago, where he lands a part in the TV soap opera HAWKINS FALLS, and does ads for the Sunbeam Corporation on the ETHEL AND ALBERT TV show. In 1955, he was back in California for THE ADVENTURES OF CHAMPION TVer for Gene Autry's Flying A production company. The last letter is dated March, 1961 from Chicago and Bannon announced his pending marriage to Barbara Cork, 23 years his junior. . . .

      Minard Coons and Bannon communicated often. Minard writes:

      "Bannon had moved to Texas from Monterey because of his emphysema. The last piece of mail I got from Jim was on September 24, 1981. That's when he sent me the plaque . . . that he received at the '74 Memphis Western Film Convention. That same letter noted that he was moving to Scottsdale, Arizona, and he would send me his new address. That was the last I heard from Jim. I believe his emphysema was getting the better of him, and he was deeply saddened by the breakup of his marriage. He was quite a guy."

      (3) California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database online], Provo, UT: Operations Inc, 2000

      Name: James Shorttel Bannon
      Social Security #: 489-01-1574
      Gender: Male
      Birth Date: 9 Apr 1911
      Birth Place: Missouri
      Death Date: 28 Jul 1984
      Death Place: Ventura
      Mother's Maiden Name: Shorttel

      (4) Social Security Death Index:

      Name: Jim Bannon
      SSN: 489-01-1574
      Last Residence: 93023 Ojai, Ventura, California, USA
      Born: 9 Apr 1911
      Died: Jul 1984
      State (Year) SSN issued: Missouri (Before 1951)


      Jim Bannon
      Birth: Apr. 9, 1911, Missouri, USA
      Death: Jul. 28, 1984, California, USA

      Actor, Stuntman & Radio personality. First Husband of Actress Bea Benaderet. Father of Actor Jack Bannon.

      Family links: Spouse: Bea Benaderet (1906 - 1968)

      Burial: Unknown

      Created by: REDMIST
      Record added: Apr 15, 2013
      Find A Grave Memorial# 108569848
    Person ID I41481  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 10 Oct 2023 

    Family 1 Beatrice "Bea" BENADARET,   b. 4 Apr 1906, New York City, New York County, NY Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 13 Oct 1968, Los Angeles County, CA Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 62 years) 
    Marriage Aug 1938 
    Divorce 1950 
     1. John James BANNON,   b. 14 Jun 1940, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 25 Oct 2017, Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai County, ID Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 77 years)
     2. Living
    Family ID F17818  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 28 Nov 2023 

    Family 2 Barbara Ann CORK,   b. 13 Jul 1940, Lincoln, Lancaster County, NE Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 14 Aug 2015, San Javier Hospital, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 75 years) 
    Marriage Bef 1970 
    Divorce Bef 24 Jun 1979 
    Family ID F17817  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 28 Nov 2023 

  • Photos
    Jim BANNON
    Jim BANNON
    Jim BANNON and Barbara CORK
    Jim BANNON and Barbara CORK