Ted Adams: The Cowboy from Cornell

Ted Adams (Richard Theodore Adams, 1890-1973) had an unusual background for a guy who played villains in B movie westerns for decades. He was “born in a trunk” to a pair of traveling vaudevillians. Born in New York, he attended Cornell University, and performed in vaudeville and stock theatre for years in plays like The Bad Man (1920) with Leo Carrillo and Kongo (1926) with Walter Huston.

The Road Agent (1925) with Al Hoxie (Jack’s brother) was the first of his nearly 200 screen credits, and one of only a couple of silent pictures in his resume. When talkies came in Adams worked steadily for over two decades at Republic, Monogram, Columbia, Universal, PRC, etc, supporting stars like Bob Steele, Big Boy Williams, John Wayne, and Hopalong Cassidy. He’s also in the first East Side Kids movie (1940). A walk-on as a bartender in William Wellman’s Westward the Women (1951) was one Adams’ last screen appearances. He briefly did television as well towards the end of his career, including several appearances on The Cisco Kid (1950-51), probably through his old pal Leo Carrillo. Ted Adams’ last screen credit was a 1953 episode of Cowboy G Men. He was 62 at the time of his retirement.

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous