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Edith Fellows.EDITH FELLOWS

Of the dozens of child actresses to grace the silver screen, many critics proclaim the most talented was Edith Fellows, who is as fine a singer as she is a thespian! Born May 20, 1923, in Boston, Edith debuted in a Charlie Chase silent, “Movie Nights” in 1929. She then appeared in dozens of pictures in a wide range of genres. She had her own series, the “Five Little Peppers” while under contract to Columbia.

There are a few excellent Westerns in her repertoire: “We shot ‘Rider of Death Valley’ way out on location in Calabassas. It was hot. Tom Mix, however, left no impression. I loved Tony—Mr. Mix put me up on top of Tony and rode me around. That was a thrill! Lois
Tom Mix with eight year old Edith Fellows is Universal's "Rider of Death Valley" ('32). Wilson was the leading lady and she was the one who impressed me. I worked with her off and on through the years and she became one of my favorites ladies. Not a close friend—but a friend.”

Unlike Tom Mix, it was Richard Dix who really made an impression. “I’ll never forget what a most warm person he was. My earliest memories of him are on ‘Cimarron’. I was at the dinner table and I sat on someone’s lap. Later, Dix was off the set, pacing up and down, learning his lines. He got to a spot and went blank. Well, I gave him his line. He came over to me, smiled  and said ‘Thank you.’ He was wonderful. A lot of people would have gotten angry, but not Richard Dix. He didn’t mind a little girl prompting him on his part!”

Asked about “Law and Lawless” with Jack Hoxie, she retorts, “I did that?” When Boyd Magers gave her a copy of the film to screen, Edith proclaimed, “I must have had amnesia. After watching it, I don’t recall a thing. I don’t know Majestic Studios. I do remember the name Jack Hoxie but not that I was in a picture with him. Actually, we had no scenes together. He was a bad actor, a little overweight. This movie wasn’t released—it escaped!”

Edith says her bedtime prayers with her parents Helen Gibson and Bob Burns in "Law and Lawless" ('32 Majestic) starring Jack Hoxie.

Gene Autry and Edith in Republic's "Heart of the Rio Grande" ('42).About her two Westerns with Gene Autry, “Heart of the Rio Grande” and “Stardust On The Sage”, Edith recalls, “Gene Autry is a real camp, a great tease, a great practical joker. You had to be on your toes around him! There’s a scene in ‘Heart Of The Rio Grande’ where I’m supposed to be bucked off a horse. They loosened the ground and had a two-step ladder so I could roll off. Well, Gene put horse stuff on the ground! I didn’t know he was doing it—the crew knew it. When the makeup person turned me around to powder me—that’s when Gene did his deed. Well, he had a beautiful rawhide makeup case. So I found some of Champion’s manure and put it in Gene’s cold cream jar! He loved it! He’s a good guy—a real OK person. I liked playing the games. I have devilment in me—we acted like two kids. However, on the second picture, he didn’t kid around as much. Gene was quieter and I don’t remember pranks. I guess he tested me and knew he couldn’t get away with anything. A neat guy to work with.”

One of the Pepper pictures, “Out West With The Peppers”, sounds as if it were a western but Edith says, “It wasn’t. It had some logging sequences in it and a rescue on a raft. I was disappointed in all of the Pepper scripts. Andy Hardy was doing well at MGM and Columbia wanted to do the same. But they didn’t live up to my expectations. I was released from Columbia in ‘41 after spending six years there. It was like my home. It was a small lot. You could walk from one side to the other in three minutes. I knew everybody—they were like family. It was heart-wrenching when I had to leave. It took a long, long time to get over the hurt.”

Edith Fellows.Asked about her work in early television she recalls, “I didn’t do any Westerns. I did do four ‘Tales of Tomorrow’ and an ‘Armstrong Circle Theatre’ called “Gentle Rain’ (‘52), but it was a comedy. I was living on a farm and Cliff Robertson and Whit Bissell were fighting over me. That was kind of fun.”

At 88, Edith died on June 26, 2011, in L.A.

 

Edith’s Western Filmography


Movies: Cimarron (‘31 RKO)—Richard Dix; Rider of Death Valley (‘32 Universal)—Tom Mix; Law and Lawless (‘32 Majestic)—Jack Hoxie; Heart of the Rio Grande (‘42 Republic)—Gene Autry: Stardust On The Sage (‘42 Republic)—Gene Autry. TV: Father Murphy: The Robber (‘82).

 

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