Fred Kohler

Active - 1920 - 1977  |   Born - Apr 20, 1889   |   Died - Oct 28, 1938   |   Genres - Western, Drama, Action, Crime, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Nominated by film historian William K. Everson as "the best western badman of all," American actor Fred Kohler Sr. began appearing onscreen in 1911. A homely man with a burly physique and huge, bearlike hands, Kohler seemed born to play characters who'd sell liquor to Indians, kidnap the sheriff's daughter, burn out homesteaders and shoot stagecoach guards in the back. In virtually all his films, Kohler wore the same costume: a stained frock coat, ostentatiously flowered vest and sloppily knotted string tie. As the principal heavy in 1924's The Iron Horse, Kohler had a rugged fistfight with leading man George O'Brien; these two actors continued to clash on-screen into the B-westerns of the '30s, including Kohler's final picture Lawless Valley (1938). This last-mentioned film is worth noting because it teamed Kohler with his equally unsavory-looking actor son, Fred Kohler Jr. (Senior's wife was one-time musical comedy actress Maxine Marshall, whom he'd met in vaudeville.) Apparently, if the part was good enough and the character bad enough, Fred Kohler Sr. would appear in any sort of film, from such top-drawer epics as Cecil B. DeMille's The Buccaneer (1938), to such meager-budgeted fare as the Three Stooges short Horses Collars (1935).

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