September 02, 2008

All about Chief Yowlachie

Chief YowlachieA member of the Yakima tribe in Washington state, Chief Yowlachie (whose real name was Daniel Simmons) began his show-business career as, believe it or not, an opera singer, and spent many years in that profession. In the 1920s he switched to films, and over the next 25 or so years he played everything from rampaging Apache chiefs to comic-relief sidekicks. A large, round-faced man, his distinctive voice--a deep, resonant bass somewhat resembling Bluto's in the old "Popeye" cartoons--was instantly recognizable, and he had the distinction of not appearing to have aged much over his career, which is most likely attributable to the fact that he looked quite a bit younger than he actually was, so his "aging" wasn't all that noticeable. In addition to his "serious" roles, he had somewhat more light-hearted parts in several films, notably Red River (1948), where he traded quips with veteran scene-stealer Walter Brennan, and held his own quite well.Actor:  Chief YowlachieNative American actor Chief Yowlachie (pronounced "Yo-latchee") spent many years on stage as an opera singer, performing under his given name of Daniel Simmons. His film career began in the mid-1920s with feathered-headdress bits in such productions as Ella Cinders (1925). Though well into middle age when he started showing up on screen, he was youthful-looking enough to play fierce Indian warriors and renegades well into the 1930s. His larger roles include the nominal villain in Ken Maynard's Red Raiders (1928), Billy Jackrabbit in the 1930 version of Girl of the Golden West (1930) and Geronimo in Son of Geronimo. After years of portraying noble, taciturn characters with names like Running Deer, Yellow Feather, Long Arrow, Little Horse and Black Eagle, Chief Yowlachie let his hair down in the role of "Chief Hi-Octane" in the Bowery Boys' Bowery Buckaroos (1948). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie GuideComment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

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