- Birth name:
- Gordon Nance
- Date of Birth:
- 26 November 1904 Pattonsburg, Missouri, USA
Born Gordon Nance in 1904 on a farm in Pattonsburg, Missouri -- a small town about 60 miles northeast of Kansas City -- the future "Wild Bill Elliott" grew up around horses. His father was a commissioner at the Kansas City Stockyards. and at age 16 Elliott won a first-place ribbon in that city's annual "American Royal Horse and Livestock Show." After a move to California, he appeared in a few productions at the Pasadena PLayhouse, where he was spotted by a talent scout. He made his first movie in 1925. A steady stream of movies followed, first silents and then talkies, in which he played too great a variety of roles to be "typed." In many of these movies he was billed as "Gordon Elliott." In 1938, however, Columbia cast him as the lead in its 15-chapter serial, The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1938), and Elliott's identification with westerns began. He even began to adopt the names "Bill" or "Wild Bill." He also became famous for using the line, "I'm a peaceable man ... " (which was inevitably followed by an outburst of violence). Elliott reached his peak of popularity at Columbia when he was teamed with Tex Ritter for a series of films. In 1943 he left Columbia for Republic, where his westerns had somewhat larger budgets. This was followed by a move to Monogram (later Allied Artists) in 1951. He was now back in low-budget B-westerns, the last one appearing in 1954. There followed six other B pictures in which he played a Los Angeles police detective. He filmed "pilots" for two potential TV series, "Marshal of Trail City" and "Parson of the West," but neither of them sold. His film career over, Elliott settled in Las Vegas where he hosted a weekly TV show in which he interviewed guests and showed some of his old movies. He also became a pitchman for a cigarette company. In 1961 his 34-year marriage to Helen Josephine Meyer ended and he took Dolly Moore as his second wife. He died of lung cancer in 1965 and is buried in Las Vegas at Palm Memorial Park.