Remembering Jack Elam

Wikimedia Commons photo

Known in Hollywood movies and on national television shows as Jack Elam, he was a native of Miami, Arizona. Later in life he became a famous actor, appearing in 73 movies and 41 television shows. Starting in 1944, this career continued for nearly two decades. He was most known for his parts as the villain who had the most distinguishing physical quality of a misaligned left eye.

His real name was William Scott Elam, and he was born Nov. 13, 1920, in Miami. Arizona to Millard Elam and Alice Amelia Kirby. His mother died on Sep. 24, 1924, when he was only three years old. In 1930 he was living with his father, older sister Mildred and stepmother Flossie Varney Elam.

Jack Elam lost the sight in his left eye when he was stabbed with a pencil during a boyhood altercation with a fellow Boy Scout. He went to the Miami schools and was in Miami High School, but graduated from Phoenix Union High School after his family decided to move to a large city. At times he worked in some of the cotton fields in the Phoenix area.

He later went to the Los Angeles area, where he attended Santa Monica California Junior College. Before his acting  career he worked as a bookkeeper for Bank of Miami, auditor for Standard Oil Company and manager of a Hollywood-area hotel.

During World War Two he served two years in the U.S. Navy. Afterwards, he went to Hollywood and started an independent accountant business. One of his clients was movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn Mayer, who opened the door to Elam’s acting career, starting with early-day Western movies.

On Oct. 20, 2003, while living in Ashland, Oregon, Elam died from congestive heart failure. His first wife Jean Hodgert, whom he married in 1937, died in 1961. He married his second wife, Margaret Jennison, later that same year; she was still living at the time of his death. He had three children.

(Note: Information for this story came from Wikipedia).


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