Tall, wiry, and with a bushy mustache, Missouri native Nelson McDowell usually played ranchers, homesteaders, and, increasingly emaciated, comic undertakers, and did it so well that he remains a favorite of B-Western fans everywhere. Often cast as a comic sidekick during the silent era, McDowell also played the music teacher in The Last of the Mohicans twice, in 1920 and 1932, and was Sowerberry in Monogram's version of Oliver Twist (1933). Although the parts grew increasingly smaller, McDowell remained a welcome addition to any B-Western cast until ill health forced his retirement in 1940. Sadly, the veteran actor ended his own life, reportedly with a gun he had used in many of his Western roles. At the time of his death, McDowell was functioning as a caretaker for a Hollywood apartment building in which he also resided.