Western Stars of the Past: Bob Steele


Bob Steele 1907-1988

Bob Steele was born Robert Adrian Bradbury on January 23, 1907 with his twin brother William Curtis Bradbury in Portland, Oregon.

From 1933 to 1945 Steele would appear in a staggering 104 movies which averages out to eight movies a year with him appearing in nine movies in 1935 and 11 movies in 1941.

Starting with the Under Texas Skies in 1940 he would portray Tucson Smith in 19 westerns from 1940-1943.

During 1943 and 1944 he would play himself in six movies but after 1944 he would never appear as himself again.

He would sign a contract with Mongram in 1932 in which he was to appear in eight movies a year at a salary of $500 a week which totaled $26,000 a year. Compared to today’s stars it is a very small sum but with the country in the throes of  a severe depression it was more money than most people made if they were fortunate to have an income of any kind.

Steele would continue to make movies but with the advent of television he could be seen in both mediums. 1955 would mark the start of his television career with an appearance in Screen Director’s Playhouse as a deputy sheriff.

Later that year he could be seen in Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. This would lead to appearances in several of the westerns which were very popular at this time.  He acted in Cheyenne, Colt .45, Sugarfoot, Have Gun Will Travel, Cimarron City, Tales of Wells Fargo, Maverick, Death Valley Days, The Californians, Lawman, The Rebel, The Deputy, Hotel de Paree, The Texan, Overland Trail and Rawhide.

He continued to appear in Rawhide, National Velvet TV series, Whispering Smith, The Wide Country, Temple Houston, F Troop, Then Came Bronson and made his last television appearance in Family Affair in 1970.

While making all those guest appearances on television he was also seen in movies in some of the better known movies of the time like Rio Bravo, Pork Chop Hill, The Longest Day (as a paratrooper), McLintock, Rio Lobo and his last movie Nightmare Honeymoon in 1974.

Bob Steele appeared in his first movie in 1920 and his movie career ended in 1974 after making 234 appearances in either television or movies.

Fourteen years after his appearance in Nightmare Honeymoon he would die on December 21, 1988 in Burbank, California from emphysema.

Because of his lengthy career there is much more information and many photos about Bob Steele at this website:



Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

2 thoughts on “Western Stars of the Past: Bob Steele”

  1. I noticed the lobby card for the Bob Steel movie was ripped off without credit to Boyd Magers, one of the most recognized B-Western historians. If you’re going to rip off someone’s photo from their web-site, complete with their photo captions, you might want to credit them. Shame.

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