Bob Livingston, I Presume?

Bob Livingston (Robert Randall, 1904-1988) was the son-in-law of Hal Roach, co-star in many films with Al St. John, and appeared in the 1975 sex comedy Blazing Stewardesses with Yvonne De Carlo, Red Barry and the Ritz Brothers. None of those are his primary claim to fame — I just wanted to start with some deets that I knew would appeal to our regular readers!

Along with Bob Steele and Bob Custer, Livingston (sometimes billed as Robert) was one of the three principal Bobs of B movie westerns. He was the son of a newspaper editor in Quincy, Illinois, about a half hour from Hannibal, Missouri. Bob became a reporter himself, and was working for the Los Angeles Daily News when he got an assignment to cover a story at the Pasadena Playhouse, and that is how he got bit by the bug. Livingston began working as a bit player in silent films in the early 1920s. He apparently also had decent dance skills, for he got several parts as a chorus boy in the early days of talkies. Some of the films he appeared on in the early phase of his career include Casey at the Bat (1926) with Wallace Beery, Zasu Pitts, and Ford Sterling; Special Delivery (1927) with Eddie Cantor; William Wellman’s Wings (1927); Our Dancing Daughters (1928); Rio Rita (1929); and Dixiana (1930). By the mid ’30s he was getting bigger parts with actual names in things like Baby Face Harrington (1935), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), and the original Three Godfathers (1936). That same year, he was one of the titular trio in Republic’s first Three Mesquiteers film, reprising his part as “Stony Brook” through 28 sequels (the character was later played by young John Wayne and Tom Tyler as Livingston moved on to other things). Livingston also played the famous western characters Zorro and The Lone Ranger, in The Bold Caballero (1936) and The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939). In 1942 and 1943 he starred in the similarly named “Lone Rider” series — these are the ones in which Al St. John was his sidekick. Livingston starred in numerous westerns outsides these series and also supported bigger stars like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tim Holt, and John Wayne in their movies.

Livinsgton also continued to appear in films outside the western genre, such as Circus Girl (1937) with June Travis; Brazil (1944) with Tito Guízar, Virginia Bruce, Edward Everett Horton, and Veloz and Yolanda; Lake Placid Serenade (1944) with Vera RalstonEugene Pallette and Barbara Jo Allen a.k.a. Vera Vague; and Valley of the Zombies (1946). The Rowan and Martin comedy Once Upon a Horse (1958) was the last film of the original stretch of Livingston’s career, before coming out of retirement for The Naughty Stewardesses (1973), Girls for Rent (1974), and Blazing Stewardesses (1975).

Livingston’s brother, Jack Randall (Addison Randall, 1906-1946) was also a B movie western actor, today best known for having been married to Barbara Bennett, sister of the stars Constance Bennett and Joan Bennett. Earlier he had been married to Louise Stanley, ex-wife of Dennis O’Keefe. Stanley divorced Randall for carrying on an affair with former silent star Louise Brooks. But the drama didn’t end there! Randall died on set in 1945, during the shooting of The Royal Mounted Rides Again, when the horse he was riding smashed him into a tree. His namesake Addison Randall, was born to Bob Livingston and Margaret Roach in 1949, and later went on to become an actor and screenwriter. The Livinstons were divorced in 1951, at the exact same time Bob’s career was winding down.

For more on classic screen history read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.