Joe Sawyer

Birth name:
Joseph Sauers
Date of Birth:
21 April 1906 Guelph, Ontario, Canada
This familiar mug appeared everywhere during the 30s and 40s particularly as a stock player for Warner Bros. in their more standard college musicals, comedies and crime yarns, playing both sides of the fence - detectives and thugs - with equal ease. He was born Joseph Sauers in Guelph, Canada on August 29, 1906 and eventually moved to California to pursue a film career. Trained at the Pasadena Playhouse, he had a perfect 'tough guy' look - sturdy chin and build with squinty eyes, more distinctive for his shock of light hair and a slightly high-pitched voice. Sawyer made his film debut in 1931 under his real name and appeared mostly in strong-armed bits in the early years until hitting steady featured status playing a slew of coaches, cops and cronies with imposing names like "Spud," "Slug" and "Whitey." He would make a wide range of films, literally hundreds, over a period of four decades, including College Humor (1933, "College Rhythm" (1934), The Westerner (1934), The Informer (1935), Pride of the Marines (1936), Black Legion (1936), "The Petrified Forest" (1936), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), They Died with Their Boots On (1941), Sergeant York (1941), Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943), Gilda (1946), It Came From Outer Space (1953), North to Alaska(1960) and How the West Was Won (1962). He was also a TV guest performer and regular on "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" (1954-59) as Sergeant Aloysius 'Biff' O'Hara. His first wife was actress Jeane Wood, the daughter of "Gone With the Wind" director Sam Wood. His second wife, June, died in 1960. Sawyer died in Ashland, Oregon on April 21, 1982 of liver cancer at the age of 75.
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