Skeeter Bill Robbins: Swatted by Fate

Tall, lanky Roy Raymond “Skeeter Bill” Robbins (1887-1933) only appeared in just over a dozen films, all of them westerns. Ten were of them were as Hoot Gibson’s comic relief and were made between 1931 and 1933. A Wyoming native. Robbins started out as a cowhand and rodeo performer; his wife Dorothy Morrell was one of the top female rodeo stars of the day. The pair came to Hollywood in the ’20s to manage Gibson’s ranch and Golden State Rodeo. Skeeter was hired for a bit part as a barfly in on Don Quickshot of the Rio Grande (1923) with Jack Hoxie, and got bit by the bug. A couple of other silent pictures followed. He was a stunt man in the 1929 version of The Virginian. With talkies came the Gibson films, his last being The Fighting Parson (1933). Then tragedy struck. Robbins was driving through a snow storm on the Mint Canyon Highway near Acton, California, when he stopped to wipe snow off his headlights. A three car pile up resulted, and Robbins was run over, sustaining fatal injuries. That was a bad year for Gibson — he was also in a plane crash that year, though he survived. Robbins was 46 at the time of his passing.

To learn more about old time show biz please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent and early film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.