Today I’d like to celebrate James Griffith, a character actor who doesn’t get near the recognition he deserves. That’s him in Rails Into Laramie (1954), in the green shirt, holding the double barrel shotgun.
Mr. Griffith was a musician first and foremost — a one-time member of Spike Jones’ band, but his busy acting career took off and lasted into the 80s. If you have a pulse and have ever sat in front of a television set, chances are good you’ve seen him. He’s in multiple episodes of Dragnet, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Batman and Emergency!, to name just a few. To give you an idea, the Internet Movie Database (not the most trustworthy of references) gives him over 200 actor credits.
Griffith both scored and appeared in Bullwhip (1958), and he co-wrote, scored and acted in Russ Meyer’s Lorna (1964). Standout film roles — his feature work is made up largely of Westerns — include the airline manager at the end of The Killing (1956), Pat Garrett in The Law Vs. Billy The Kid (1954) and a great turn as the ailing Doc Holliday in Masterson Of Kansas (1954, below with George Montgomery).
How many actors can say they worked for Stanley Kubrick, William Castle and Russ Meyer? Now that’s a career!