Saturday, April 7, 2018

PAUL BIRCH: Roger Corman's Intergalactic Vampire

It was the 1950's and the aftermath of Nuclear War was a theme in three motion pictures Paul Birch appeared in. In one the opening scene was written as "The End" and the end was written as "The Beginning". His face and that baritone voice were very familiar in Science Fiction and Westerns of the period even on television, but his name wasn't.

Look on line for some specific biographical information about the actor and it's extremely scarce and duplicated on most web sites. We know he was born Paul Lowery Smith on January 12, 1912 in Atmore, Alabama. We know he attended "Alabama Polytechnic Institute" which was the fourth name of what became in 1960 "Auburn University". What his course of study was, or the dates he attended I could not locate. Some sources say he was married twice and others three times. We know two of his wives names, maybe. Paul's first was Margaret Farish, but his second, or was she his third?  Was Betsy Ross Smith, or perhaps it was Barbara Ross Smith. Again that depends upon the site my reader researches. Paul had four children Cindy Luke Birch, Jennifer Birch, Michael Birch and Don Birch.  When exactly Paul Lowery Smith became Paul Birch I could not specifically locate.

The best way to tell Paul Birch's story is through his work.

One role I would mention was in a series of 1950's television commercials. Paul Birch was the original "Marlboro Man" for the Philip Morris Tobacco company.

Paul would appear in either motion pictures or television 273 times. As my reader will note most of these appearances were in Westerns, but before I look at these. I want to mention the one Broadway Play Paul Birch was seen on stage in.

When you mention "The Caine Mutiny" most of my readers would immediately think about the June 24, 1954 motion picture release. Which starred Humphrey Bogart as "Lieutenant Commander Phillip Francis Queeg" and Jose Ferrer as "Lieutenant Barney Greenwald". Stanley Roberts wrote the screenplay. However, that was not the original version of Herman Wouk's Pulitzer Prize winning 1951 novel.

The original adaption was a Broadway play written by Herman Wouk, himself, the same year of the movie. The play ran from January 20, 1954 through January 22, 1955 for a total of 415 performances. The production was directed by actor Charles Laughton and starred Henry Fonda as "Greenwald" and Lloyd Nolan as "Queeg". Paul was "Captain Randolph Southard". Also in the cast was a young man portraying "A Member of the Court" named James Bumgarner. He would change his name to James Garner.

Above Nolan and Fonda in a scene from the play.

I will be dividing Paul Birch's career between "Science Fiction" and "Westerns and Television". So the films and television programs I mention are only in order under those individual headings.


I grew up on 1950's science fiction and horror movies. Paul Birch was in six motion picture classics (?) of the period in varying size roles and three episodes of a classic television anthology.

The first motion picture found him without screen credit, but in a true science fiction classic George Pal's 1953 "The War of the Worlds". Based upon the H,G. Wells novel and directed by Byron Haskin. Released August 26, 1953.

Paul Birch portrayed "Hogue", Jack Kruschen was "Salvatore" and Bill Phipps "Wash Perry". They were the three men left to guard the cooling cylinder that crashed near the Southern California community of Linda Rosa. As the trio discuss were it might have come from. It is Birch's "Hogue" that mentions that Mars is the closest planet to the Earth at the time.

Suddenly part of the cylinder starts to unscrew what appears to be either a plug, or hatch. Next a snake like mechanical head on a mechanical neck appears and starts moving around seemingly surveying the area. The three men discuss communicating with what they consider to be men from Mars. A white flag is made out of a flower sack found in the back of a pick-up truck. They approach and attempt to communicate. Suddenly from the head like structure a heat ray hits the three men burning them to ash.

In these two stills Paul Birch is the far left, in the middle Jack Kruschen and far right is Bill Phipps. Both Kruschen and Phipps did receive on screen credit. Jack was a known Canadian character actor from radio and had appeared in 23 motion pictures prior to "War of the Words". While Phipps, among other roles, was the voice of "Prince Charming" in Walt Disney's animated "Cinderella".

Should my reader be interested in the work of George Pal. The following link will take them to my look at his films.

On June 11, 1955 Paul Birch was escaped convict "Pete Lane" in "Conversation with an Ape". This was the tenth episode of the first season of Ivan Tors television series "Science Fiction Theatre".
Animal Psychologist "Dr. Guy Stanton", Hugh Beaumont prior to being "Ward Cleaver" on "Leave It To Beaver", brings his new bride "Nancy", Barbara Hale, prior to becoming "Della Street" on "Perry Mason",  home to his Florida everglades house and research lab.

There she discovers her husband has learned to telepathically communicate with an ape named "Terry". This is at first unsettling to "Nancy".

Birch's "Pete Lane" will break into the house and have to deal with not only "Guy" and "Nancy", but "Terry". The ape will be given telepathic instructions to get a pistol from upstairs. Leading to "Lane's" capture.

On October 1, 1955 Paul was the "Sheriff" of the small town of Pecos, New Mexico. Can you think Roswell and 1947? The episode of "Science Fiction Theatre" "The Strange People at Pecos". Has the town next to the "Pecos Rocket Testing Ground" and centers around two families. One is headed by Radar Operator "Jeff Jamison" portrayed by Arthur Franz. A face already associated with science fiction with two motion pictures 1951's "Flight to Mars" and the classic 1953 original "Invaders from Mars".

The basic story has Franz thinking his new neighbors headed by character actor "Dabbs Greer" as "Arthur Kerns:, 1956's original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and 1958's basis for Ridley Scott's "Alien", "IT! The Terror from Beyond Space", have come from Mars to stop the rocket tests.

"Jamison" feels convinced when his son tells him he witnessed "Arthur" has his daughter "Laurie" playing with an anti-gravity toy. Also it is the way "Laurie" speaks. When "Jamison" had asked the newly moved in "Laurie" where she comes from?  Thinking she reply with a city and state. Instead he receives the answer:
The Third Planet from the Sun, but as my father says, we're all from the same galaxy.. 
Paul Birch's final episode of Ivan Tors' "Science Fiction Theatre" was "Survival in Box Canyon" shown on October 12, 1956 during the final season.The story was about a rescue mission to find a missing nuclear physicist whose plane crashed and he is the key to an atomic experiment. The three main characters were "Major Sorenson" portrayed by Bruce Bennett, "Dr, Milo Baron" portrayed by DeForest Kelley and "Dr. Raymond Michaels" portrayed by Birch.

Prior to "Science Fiction Theatre" Ivan Tors had produced a classic 1950's motion picture Science Fiction Trilogy. Which he tied together through his created "Office of Scientific Investigation". The films were "The Magnetic Monster", "Riders to the Stars" and "GOG". My article on this trilogy and Tors can be read at:

I'll discuss Paul Birch's Westerns for Roger Corman under my next heading, but released on June 15, 1955 was a film with three directors. One being the non screen credited Roger Corman. The other two directors, whose names did appear in the credits, were the forgotten David Kramarshky and Lou Place. Among his other work Place would co-produce Corman's "It Conquered the World" and produce the very good "Man from U.N.C.L.E." movie rip off "The Agent for H.A.R.M.".

The title of this Science Fiction film, with puppet and model work by Paul Blaisdell, was "The Beast with a Million Eyes". 

This above is a great 1950's Science Fiction film misleading poster. One wishes the "Beast" physically had a million eyes, but the screenplay by Tom Filer, who also came up with the story, has an interesting explanation for the title. The Alien is invisible and is pure mental energy sent to Earth to determine the possibility of moving his dying planet. As such he can possess any thinking living creature. Be it an insect, bird, dog, rodent, or human and multiple creatures at the same time. Hence he has potentially a million eyes.

Paul Birch plays "Allan Kelley" who owns a small California "Date" ranch near Indio in the Coachella Valley. At the time of filming it was nothing but desert and Indio had a population of about 6,000, but today over 90,000 people live there.

"Allan" lives on his ranch with his wife "Carol" played by Lorna Thayer. Thayer is probably best known for her role as the waitress in Jack Nicholson's 1970 motion picture "Five Easy Pieces". She was in the classic "Chicken Salad Scene", as it has become known, when speaking of the film.

Dona Cole portrayed their daughter "Sandy". This was her only motion picture and she also made three appearances on television.

14 years before he replaced Dick York as "Darrin Stephens" on television's "Bewitched". 25 year old Dick Sargent, billed as Richard Sargent, played "Sandy's" boyfriend.

The Beast with a Million Eyes | Scifist

The basic plot has some strange things happening to the isolated "Kelley" family after what appears to be a meteor crashed near their ranch. Wild animals, birds, their pet dog and a cow all turn on them. Their handyman, either referred too as "Him", or "Pervy Bill" played by Leonard Taver, becomes possessed by the alien intelligence.

"Allan Kelley" figures out what's happening, as his family come together to fight the alien, and he goes out into the desert to locate the space craft. It is here that he sees the mental alien's slave. Which because of the budget was only a puppet made by Paul Blaisdell. However, it is considered an iconic 1950 Science Fiction creation.

The following is the only alien the audience ever sees.

In the end the mental alien attempts to escape as a mouse and is caught and eaten by an American Bold Eagle. Think about the 1950's political viewpoint expressed in that.

The end of 1955 saw Paul Birch in his second Roger Corman motion picture. This time both Produced and Directed by Roger and released in December. "The Day the World Ended" starred Richard Denning and Lori Nelson. Denning had appeared in 1954's "The Creature from the Black Lagoon". While Nelson had appeared in  the 1955 sequel "Revenge of the Creature".

The talky, but still interesting screenplay was from Lou Rusoff. Rusoff worked as a writer and producer with what became American International Pictures. Besides this Corman film he wrote "It, Conquered the World"and the Corman Western "Apache Women". Rusoff produced and wrote "The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow" in 1959 and in 1963 turned it into "Beach Party". Starting the Surfer craze by, as producer, teaming up Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

"The Day the World Ends" begins with Atomic Bombs exploding all over the world and the title card calling these explosions "The End".

Lori Nelson's "Louise Maddison's" father, Paul Birch as "Jim Maddison", an ex-Navy Commander had prepared for an Atomic attack and built his home in a canyon and stocked it for survival. There is a picture of "Louise" and her fiance, who is missing, on a nightstand by her bed. "Rick", Denning, is a mining engineer who specializes in uranium and he was working in the canyon when the bombs fell. These three appear to be the only humans not effected by the Atomic radiation left alive.

Below is another great 1950's poster which lured pre-teen and teen audiences into the picture.

Note on the above poster Paul Birch's name appears fifth. It is the two names just above his that enter the story at this point. Adele Jergens portrayed the "Gangster Moll Ruby". Jergens had been in films since 1943. She had portrayed Marilyn Monroe's mother in "Ladies of the Chorus". Even though Jergens was only nine years older than Monroe. Adele had been third bill in "A Thousand and One Nights" starring Phil Silvers and Evelyn Keyes and been fifth billed in "Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man", again, as a gangsters "Moll". A role she would recreate many times in films and television. In short Adele Jergens was a major "B" supporting actress.

Then there was the "Gangster" named "Tony Lamont". He was played by a young Armenian actor born Krekor Ohanian. Krekor was billed using his High School basketball nick name of "Touch" and a last name of Connors. Which he used when he first appeared on the local  Los Angeles television station CBS on the teenage "Jukebox Jury", So not to sound foreign born. In time he would drop the "Touch" and become first Michael and then Mike Connors.

"Ruby" and "Tony" somehow found there way to Paul Birch's canyon. This will present problems as "Tony" obviously wants the younger "Louise".

The sixth main character is an old prospector named "Pete" played by actor Raymond Hatton. "Pete" and his mule arrive in the canyon to cut with other new arrivals. "Jim Maddison's" survival supplies in half. I could not locate a photo from this picture of the actor, but Hatton had been in movies since 1912. He became known for playing the "Sidekick" of many "B" Cowboy stars. Below he's with a 1930's John Wayne.

Paul Birch explains to the survivors his rules and how the food will be distributed by him and nobody else.

Birch's "Maddison" privately tells "Rick" that when he was a Naval Commander. He took part in some earlier Atomic Bomb tests. Taking photographs were not permitted, but he made sketches of what the radiation did to the test animals. One of those is of a monkey.

The two women go swimming in the only fresh water pond left in the canyon. As they swim the two get the feeling that something is watching them.

At different points in the story we see two men who have been exposed to the radiation and Birch's "Maddison" makes the discovery that their skin, like the test animals, is becoming armor plated. Also that these men won't go near the fresh water pond and feed off raw meat.

What was watching the women swim was a mutated human designed, built and played by Paul Blaisdell. Without actually saying it the screenplay. Lou Rusoff gets the audience to think this is "Louise's" missing fiance.

Roger Corman, director, Day the World Ended, 1956, motion picture, ARC.  Trapped in the teeming rain, the Mutant (Paul Blaisdell) slowly succumbs to the rain's purifying effects. Click to enlarge.

At one point the mutant kills "Radek", Paul Dubov, one of the two mutated men. Food is short in the canyon and "Radek" was competition for it.

"Pete" is killed by the mutant, "Ruby" by "Tony", "Tony by Rick" and "Jim Maddison" is dying of radiation poisoning. Their fear has been rain which will bring the radiation. At the film's climax with only the dying "Jim", his daughter "Louise" and "Rick" left. It of course starts to rain.

Before he dies "Jim Maddison" using a Geiger Counter discovers the rain is clear of all radiation. The mutant dies and Paul Birch dying gives his blessing to "Louise" and "Rick". The picture ends with the two starting up the now radiation clear canyon wall and the title card appears "The Beginning".

On February 10, 1957, Paul Birch appeared in the Science Fiction movie he is most identified with from Producer/Director Roger Corman. The screenplay was by Charles B. Griffith, "Attack of the Crab Monsters" and the original "Little Shop of Horrors". His co-writer was Mark Hanna. He wrote "The Amazing Colossal Man" and "Attack of the 50th Foot Women". The title of this feature film was "Not of This Earth".

Keeping with America's "Cold War" fear of nuclear war. The screenplay has Paul Brich as a survivor of atomic war on the planet Davanna. The survivors have developed a blood disease and are dying out. Paul Birch's "Paul Johnson" is sent to Earth to send "examples" of the human race by matter transmitter back to Davanna. This is for the testing of human blood as a means of keeping the Davanna population alive.

Above another of those typical 1950 Science Fiction posters. What the creature seemingly reaching down to the Earth is I have no idea. The women in fear is actress Beverly Garland.

Note Paul Birch's blind looking eyes in the above still. Should a human look upon them. His eyes burn the human brain killing the person. So the alien wears sunglasses to keep his eyes covered until he decides to kill. The Davannian has  very sensitive hearing which is a weakness


Actress Beverly Garland plays his human nurse "Nadine Storey". Who was sent by the "Doctor F.W. Rochelle" played by William Roerick a stage, film and television actor since 1935. The Doctor has been hypnotized by the alien and knows the truth about "Mr. Johnson".

For Roger Corman, Beverly Garland appeared in the Western "Gunslinger" as a "Lady Marshall", "It, Conquered the World" as Lee Van Cleef's wife, "Swamp Diamonds" and this feature. On October 4, 1957 Garland became the first women lead in a television series. This was "Decoy" based upon true cases of the New York City Police Department. For those of my readers interested in Garland, Honor Blackman, Anne Francis and Barbara Stanwyck on television, My article can be read at:

The aliens plans seem to be proceeding well until a women from Davanna appears. She is in desperate need of a blood transfusion. "Johnson" breaks into "Dr. Rochelle's" office and steals blood, but the blood is contaminated with rabies and the alien women dies.

In revenge Paul Birch sends a creature to kill the doctor. The creature was another of Paul Blaisdell's creations and was actually made from a umbrella.


Portraying the alien's Earth chauffeur "Jeremy Perrin" is Roger Corman regular Jonathan Haze. Among Haze's Corman work are "It, Conquered the World", "Little Shop of Horrors", "The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent" and "The Terror" that starred Boris Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson. "Jeremy" leans too much and is killed by Paul Birch.

Birch next attempts to kidnap "Nadine" but she escapes and calls the police department. Her boyfriend, a motorcycle officer, responds with his siren. The alien is attempting to escape in his limousine that  he does not know how to drive. When the sound of the siren overpowers him and he crashes burning to death.

The film ends with another man dressed as "Paul Johnson" did with dark sun glasses walking in a cemetery and passing the place "Johnson" is buried with a tombstone reading:. 


In July of 1957 Paul  Birch was in an interesting overlooked Science Fiction motion picture portraying the small role of a Navy Admiral. The movie was "The 27th Day" starring Gene Barry and Valerie French.

This is actually a neat twist on the "Cold War" fears American's were having in the 1950's. The Columbia Pictures release uses stock footage from 1956's "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" and was produced by actress turned producer Helen Ainsworth. Although based upon a novel he wrote. It appears that screenplay writer John Mantley borrowed a little from 1951's "The Day the Earth Stood Still".

The plot has five people an American reporter "Jonathan Clarke", Gene Barry, Englishwomen "Evelyn 'Eve' Wingate", Valerie French, Chinese Peasant " Su Tan", Marie Tsien, German physicist "Professor Klaus Bechner", George Voskovec, and Russian soldier "Ivan Godofsky", Azemat Jann, transferred to an alien space craft circling the Earth from their respective countries at the same time.

In the space craft this group meets an alien from a plant orbiting a sun about to go supernova in 35 days. Speaking mentally to each in their own language.  He explains that his people are prohibited from killing intelligent life by a strict moral code. He has a solution to the problem of destroying all such life, before his people can migrate to the Earth.

He gives each of the five a clear case containing three capsules and only their mind can open their case. Each capsule has the ability of destroying all Human Life within a 3,000 square mile area. It is the alien's belief that if one person uses one capsule for his country. The other four would use theirs and all human life would be wiped out and the alien's morale code would not be touched.

This alien also informs the five that these capsules can only be activated with 27 days, or they destroy themselves. At the end of the 27th day, if they have not been used the alien's people will not bother, or harm the Earth population again and meet their own fate,

So the idea of hiding and not telling anyone of the capsules existence is agreed upon by the five people. Who are returned to their home countries. However, the alien foresaw that problem and upon the five people's return. A broadcast is made to the entire world identifying each one. Of course the military and their respective governments are after the group in typical "Cold War" fashion.

One other plot point is that the alien tells the five humans that within that clear case they have:
The Power of Life or Death!
A plot point critical to the ending.

Below 8th billed Paul Birch in "The 27th Day".

On September 7, 1958 paired with a fun Boris Karloff picture entitled "Frankenstein 1970" was Paul Burke's last Science Fiction motion picture. The intentionally "Camp" "Queen of Outer Space" starred Zsa Zsa Gabor. A "Camp" point in itself.

The motion picture used props and stock footage from 1956's "World Without End" and space clothing from 1956's "Forbidden Planet". Gabor's co-star was the still basically unknown Eric Fleming. He would appear in the excellent 1959 Western Vampire movie "Curse of the Undead" and also in 1959 become a household name on television's "Rawhide", but at the time he was just a solid actor making the rounds.

Strange events have been occurring in Outer Space. A Space Force Crew and a Scientist are sent to investigate, but before they can arrive at their space station destination. A strange ray from  seemingly out of nowhere blows it up. That same ray hits the space ship, knocks out the crew and sends it spinning out of control. When the crew recover the space craft has crash landed on the planet Venus.

This is still the 1950's even if the movie takes place in the future. So not only does the planet have an atmosphere they can breathe, but it also has gorgeous mini-skirted women and a scientist played by Zsa Zsa Gabor. Paul Birch is the Earth scientist "Professor Konrad".

Venus has a dictator "Queen", not Gabor, and some of her soldiers capture the Earth men.

Zsa Zsa is the leader of the revolution and her supporters will help the men. Oh, there was an Atomic War caused by the Venusian men, of course, and the women rebelled and exiled them to one of the moons.

The "Queen" and her court are thought to be extremely beautiful and hide their beauty behind masks. In truth they have been burned from radiation during the Atomic war.

In the end the "Queen" is killed, Zsa Zsa is the new "Queen of Outer Space" and says the exiled men are to return. The Earth space crew will leave for now, but Fleming will return to his love Gabor. The producer, director and screenplay writers knew how to make the film over the top. The end credits are downright funny. You have to just go with the picture.


On October 23, 1945 Paul Birch made his first screen appearance in Universal Studios 12 Chapter Serial "The Royal Mounted Rides Again". He played "Highwayman #2" without on screen credit. The serial starred George Dolenz father of Micky of "The Monkees". Also in the cast was Milburn Stone future "Doc" on television's "Gunsmoke" and Robert Armstrong "Carl Denham" in the 1933 "King Kong".

Paul Birch's next movie was released on November 23, 1945 also from Universal. He played a "Henchman" in "The Dalton's Ride Again" starring Lon Chaney, Jr, Kent Talyor and Noah Berry, Jr.

Nine more non screen credited roles followed until Paul Birch appeared in "The War of the Worlds". Among these films were appearances as a "Military Policeman" in director Carol Reed's 1949 classic "The Third Man" starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Wells and playing "Coach Duff" in the 1952 Ronald Reagan comedy "Bonzo Goes to College". This was followed by Birch's first television appearance the same year on "Racket Squad" starring Reed Hadley.

On February 26, 1953 Paul Birch made the first of two appearances, the second would be January 20, 1955, on the Western television series "The Lone Ranger" and he both episodes he was the town 'Sheriff". In fact as my reader will notice Paul Birch became the quintessential "Western Sheriff" in movies and on television.

Next Paul was "Nat Burnham" on January 15, a episode of "The Hopalong Cassidy" TV series entitled "Copper Hills".

Two Western motion pictures followed starting with "Ride Clear of Diablo" starring Audie Murphy, Susan Cabot and Dan Duryea. It was released February 10, 1954 and the actor portrayed "Fred Kenyon" the town "Sheriff".

In the Barbara Stanwyck and Ronald Reagan movie "Cattle Queen of Montana", released November 18, 1954Birch was "Colonel Carrington". On January 25, 1955 Paul Birch portrayed the "Secretary of Agriculture" in a made for television movie entitled "Dr. Harvey W. Wiley". Other than a date the film was shown and a cast list. I could not find any information about the story for this picture. However, it must of been about the Dr. Wiley" a Union Army officer and chemist. That after the Civil War worked for the Department of Agriculture. Then became the first commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

"Man Without A Star", released March 24, 1955, was a Kirk Douglas Western co-starring Jeanne Crane and Claire Trevor. Birch portrayed a man named "Mark Tolver".

Paul's Western appearances continued and once again playing the role of a "Sheriff" in "Strange Lady in Town". The picture had Greer Garson as one of the first women doctors in the West and co-starred Dana Andrews. This movie was released on April 12, 1955. The cast included Cameron Mitchell and a young Nick Adams as a "Billy the Kid".

An interesting Western on many levels was produced and directed by Roger Corman entitled "Five Guns West" released on April 15, 1955. The story by R. Wright Campbell tells of five men sentenced to be hanged in a Southern Prison near the end of the Civil War. They are offered their freedom, IF they join the Confederate Army and go after a traitor. Along the way the group comes across a women portrayed by Dorothy Malone. Whom two of the men start to fight over.

This was Campbell's first collaboration with Corman. He would write "Prehistoric World" a film both Corman and star Robert Vaughn claimed they were never associated with. After American International Pictures changed the title to "Teenage Cave Man". Also for Corman was R. Wright Campbell's excellent adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Mask of the Red Death". Additionally he  wrote the non Corman screenplays for "Machine Gun Kelly" starring unknown Charles Bronson, the story of Lon Chaney, Sr. "Man of a Thousand Faces" starring James Cagney and Dorothy Malone. Along with the exciting "The Night Fighters". Which was about the IRA starring Robert Mitchum, Richard Harris, Dan O'Herlihy and Anne Heywood.

In "Five Guns West" Dorothy Malone was ""Shalee Jethro". Malone had been in films since 1940  and her work until this Western consisted of 39 motion pictures and 10 television appearances. It would be another 6 motion pictures and 3 television appearances before she won her Academy Award for 1956's "Written on the Wind" and "SUDDENLY" was considered a "STAR" by Hollywood.

Then there were the five convicts. From the above poster Malone's co-star was actor John Lund. Lund was a solid supporting actor. Early in his career he had some major roles such as "Captain John Pringle" in director Billy Wilder's 1948 comedy/drama a "Foreign Affair". Where he is torn between two women. One played by Jean Arthur and the other Marlene Dietrich. His acting career seemed to drop during the 1950's. When Lund appeared in many "B" Westerns, but he did play Grace Kelly's, in her last film role, fiance in 1956's "High Society" also starring Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Then there was "Touch" Connors as "Hale Clinton". Prior to this film the future Mike Connors most major role was as one of the rescue air crews in William Wellman's "Island in the Sky" starring John Wayne. It wouldn't be until May 3, 1957 in an episode of the television series "The Sheriff of Cochise" that "Touch" Connors became Michael Connors. It wouldn't be until episode one, season one, September 16, 1967, that the actor became Mike Connors for his new television series "Mannix".

I already mentioned the screenplay writer R. Wright Campbell. He also appears in the picture as convict "John Candy".

Portraying "Billy Candy" was Jonathan Haze. Whom I already mentioned in "Not of this Earth".

Which brings me to the fifth convict and the role portrayed by Paul Birch, "J.C. Haggard".

Below right to left, Connors, Campbell and Haze.

In 1948 William "Wild Bill" Wellman directed Gregory Peck and Ann Baxter in "Yellow Sky". A great Western about a gang of outlaws lead by Peck's "James Dawson". The take cover from the law in what they initially think is an old abandoned mining town. However, it turns out it isn't deserted. Living and still mining is an old Prospector and Grandfather portrayed by James Barton and his Granddaughter nicknamed "Mike" played by Baxter.

Look at the above photo of Malone and Lund from "Five Guns West". There is almost the same scene between Peck and Baxter in "Yellow Sky". Below Ann Baxter with the rifle from the scene.

There is no question that Campbell borrowed elements from Lamar Trotti's screenplay for "Yellow Sky" and that Roger Corman also borrowed set ups from Wellman. As for Lund being Peck, if you can picture this one. Mike Connors was playing Richard Widmark's "Dude" from "Yellow Sky", seen below. Who wants Baxter's "Mike" for himself and will fight Peck over her. Just as Connors' "Hale Clinton" wants Malone's "Shalee" and will fight Lund over her.

While Paul Birch's "J.C. Haggard" has a lot of elements of Henry 'Harry' Morgan's character called "Half Pint".Seen above to the left of Widmark.

Paul Birch returned in another Roger Corman produced and directed Western entitled "Apache Woman". The film starred Lloyd Bridges as "Rex Moffett" and was released September 15, 1955. This was five years after Bridges made the cult Science Fiction classic "Rocketship X-M" and three years before he became "Mike Nelson" on television's "Sea Hunt".

Joan Taylor portrayed the half-Apache woman of the title "Anne LeBeau". Taylor is remembered by fans of stop motion animator Ray Harryhausen for "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" and "20 Million Miles to Earth".

The third star as Taylor's brother "Armand LeBeau": was Lance Fuller. 1950 Science Fiction fans knew him from "This Island Earth", "The She Creature" and "Voodoo Women". He also appeared in Three episodes of Walt Disney's "Zorro" among other roles.

Paul Birch portrayed his typed cast role as "The Sheriff". Also in the picture were Corman regulars Jonathan Haze as "Tom Chandler" and Dick Miller as "Tall Tree". This was Miller's first motion picture, but he would be remembered for the Corman classic dark comedy from 1959 "Bucket of Blood" as the Beatnik murderer. Who covers dead bodies with clay and becomes known for his realistic sculptures. Shades of "The Mystery of the Wax Museum", or its remake "The House of Wax".

During 1955 Paul Birch appeared in episodes of different television programs such as "The Millionaire", "Public Defender", "Crossroads" and the Richard Boone series "Medic". Also in 1955 Birch appeared in a presentation of the anthology series the "Ford Star Jubilee" shown on November 19, 1955. Once again Paul Birch was "Captain Randolph Southard" in a live production of "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial". Lloyd Nolan was back as "Captain Quegg". but Barry Sullivan was "Greenwald".

Back on October 21, 1955 Birch had appeared as President Grant on "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin". A year later on November 16, 1956 he was back on the show in the same role. Below left to right, Lee Aaker as "Corporal Rusty", Rinty aka Rin Tin Tin and Paul Birch as President Grant.

Instead of being "The Sheriff" on October 29, 1955 movie goers saw Paul Birch as the "Police Chief", without on screen credit, in the Nicholas Ray directed "Rebel Without a Cause" starring James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo,

 Into 1956 the actor continued to appear on television shows such as the forgotten programs the "Cavalcade of America" and an episode of "Steve Donovan Western Marshall". Where he was again a "Sheriff". Birch appeared in an unsold television pilot "Have Camera Will Travel" from the Hal Roach studios. The title predates the Richard Boone television series with a similar name "Have Gun Will Travel". Along with Paul Birch the pilot featured "Touch" Connors, Charles Bronson and the forgotten Barbara Lawrence. Look her short career up.

On March 15, 1956 Republic Studios released a low budget film "When Gangland Strikes". My reader can guess what role Paul Birch had it. He was "Sheriff Mack McBride".

On April 12, 1956 an excellent character driven Western was released starring Glenn Ford, Jeanne Crane and Broderick Crawford entitled "The Fastest Gun Alive".  There was even a Dell Comic Book of the story.

A store keeper in a small peaceful farm and ranch town is in reality the title character. He has been attempting to have a peaceful life for his wife and son under an assumed name. However, when he overhears the towns people speaking in awe of  mythic gunfighters such as Wyatt Earp and Wes Hardin. He decides to break the myths these people have from the dime novels and reveal who he really is.

This will lead to a climatic gunfight between Glenn Ford's "George Kelby, Jr." aka: "George Temple" and Outlaw leader "Vinnie Harold", portrayed by Broderick Crawford, to prove who really is "The Fastest Gun Alive". The film at times drags a little, but is worth seeing. The solution at the end to the question the gunfight answers is perfect in both Frank D. Gilroy's original 1954 play "The Last Notch" and his movie screenplay.

The motion picture predates John Ford's classic "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" by six years, but is about the same theme. The Myth of the West versus the Reality of the West.

In the picture Paul Birch portrayed "Sheriff Bill Toledo",

Back in 1911 British author Sax Rohmer created "The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu". A Chinese criminal villain partly inspired by Conan Doyle's "Professor Moriarty". Even into the 1960's the White World had fears of the "Yellow Peril" the Chinese and showed there prejudice.

"Fu Manchu" first appeared in silent movies and even Boris Karloff portrayed the evil Chinese bent on World Conquest. In the 1960's Christopher Lee would play "Fu Manchu" in several features. However, in 1956 a syndicated television series "The Adventures of Fu Manchu" appeared. On October 8, 1956 Paul Birch portrayed a General in the episode entitled "The Plague of Fu Manchu".  The evil doctor plans to release a plague that will kill most of the human race unless the United States turns over the key to their defense system.

My article on Karloff, Lee and other actors who played "Fu Manchu" as well as the television series may be found at:

Between appearing in the movies "The Fastest Gun Alive" and another Western starring Fred MacMurray, Jeffrey Hunter and Janice Rule "Gun for a Coward" released January 30, 1957. Paul Birch appeared on eleven different television shows including "Fu Manchu", episodes of "Science Fiction Theatre" and "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin". These other programs included 14 episodes of the historical television series "You Where There" hosted by Walter Cronkite. Among the real people Birch portrayed were President Grant's opposite Robert E, Lee. "Sheriff Behan" from "The Gunfight at the OK Corral" and British  Revolutionary War "General;Cornwallis".

Birch was a "Banker" in an episode of the Walt Disney show "The Hardy Boys" starring Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk in the episode "The Mystery of the Ghost Farms" 

Paul Birch kept to television for an episode of Lee Marvin's "M Squad" called "Pete Loves Mary" and an episode as a Union Officer on Clint Walker's "Cheyenne" called "The Broken Pledge". In an episode of Robert Culp's Western television  show "Trackdown" entitled "Sweetwater, Texas" it was back to being a "Sheriff".

Raymond Burr was Earle Stanley Gardner's "Perry Mason" on television, but Paul Birch in Gardner's recreation of actual criminal cases was the author himself for 23 episodes of "The Court of Last Resort".

Roles in four motion pictures, two on each side, book ended "Queen of Outer Space". The first was the excellent "Gunman's Walk" starring Van Heflin, Tab Hunter and Kathryn Grant in July 1958.

On August 1958 was the Western "Wild Heritage" starring Will Rodgers, Jr. and Maureen O'Sullivan. The other side of "Queen of Outer Space" was a picture released in September set during the Cuban Revolution entitled "The Gun Runners". This movie starred Audie Murphy and Eddie Albert. It was based upon an Ernest Hemingway novel and directed by Don Siegel. Birch played a character named "Sly Phillips".This was the third version of the Hemingway novel. The first kept the title "To Have and Have Not" starring Humphrey Bogart and introducing his future wife Lauren Bacall who was 20 years of age to "Bogie's" 45.

Then there was "Gunman from Laredo" with Paul Birch as "Marshall Matt Crawford". released in March of 1959.

From October 6, 1958 through July 13, 1959 Paul Birch co-starred with William Campbell in a Canadian television series called "Cannonball". Which ran in syndication in the United States as well.

The show was about two truckers "Mike Malone", Birch, and "Jerry Austin", Campbell, who haul cargo across Canada and into the United States.

Campbell's films ranged from William Wellman's "The High and the Mighty", the previously mentioned "Man Without a Star", "Love Me Tender" with Elvis Presley and Roger Corman's "Dementia 13" directed by an unknown Francis Ford Coppola. From 1953 through 1958 he was married to one of my Great Aunt Alice's girlfriends Judith Exner. Exner became the mistress of Mafia Boss Sam Giacanna and was introduced to President Kennedy by Frank Sinatra. Can my reader say Mafia conspiracy theory on JFK's death. Look it up.

Paul Birch got away from being a "Sheriff" in the Lana Turner, Anthony Quinn 1960 film "Portrait in Black". About a wife, Turner, who wants her doctor lover, Quinn, to kill her sick husband Lloyd Nolan, but somebody who knows what happened starts targeting her. The film featured Sandra Dee and John Saxon. Birch was a police detective.

Back to being a "Sheriff" on the Roy Calboun television show "The Texan" once and three times on three different stories on "Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater". Two non "Sheriff" roles followed on television and then back to the part on an episode of the very popular series "Maverick" starring Jack Kelly as brother "Bart Maverick".  For those of my readers interested in "Maverick". My article on the show can be read at:

After portraying a "Western Marshall" on the television series "Bronco". Paul Birch found himself playing a "Security Guard" in an episode of the other Erle Stanley Gardner television program "Perry Mason". On July 26, 1961 movie goers saw Birch as "Judge Edward Purcell" in John Ford's "Two Rode Together" starring James Stewart, Richard Widmark and Shirley Jones as the Judge's daughter "Marty",

This role was followed by another "Sheriff" in an episode of the forgotten 1961 television Western "Cain's Hundred" that starred Peter Mark Richmond. In 1962 Paul Birch made his second appearance on "Gunsmoke" in that overly type cast role of a "Sheriff". Along with his second and third appearances on the Dale Robertson series 'Tales of Wells Fargo". In both as "Sheriffs", but at least for the Western series "Laramie" he wasn't the law.

After his third appearance on the popular detective series "77 Sunset Strip". Birch portrayed "Mayor Winder" in John Ford's classic myth breaking Western "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". The John Wayne and James Stewart movie was released April 12,1962.


1962 saw Paul Birch's third and final appearance on Richard Boone's Western "Have Gun Will Travel", his second of three appearances on the popular crime drama starring Robert Stack "The Untouchables". Along with a non screen credited role on the Western series "Stoney Burke". This was Jack Lord's show six years before the original "Hawaii Five-O" and the same year Lord played "Felix Leiter" in the first James Bond feature film "Dr. No".

Paul Birch would be "Police Captain Carpenter" for thirteen episodes of David Jansen's "The Fugitive" between 1963 and 1965. In 1963 Birch was also in Stanley Kramer's multi-star comedy "It's A Mad Mad Mad World" as a "Police Officer'. The actor also made his six appearance since 1960 on "Wagon Train" and for the third time in one of those played Ulysses Simpson Grant. Paul Birch also appeared in another forgotten Western series "Temple Houston" starring actor Jeffrey Hunter and made his third appearance, of course, as another "Sheriff" on "Death Valley Days". 

Birch appeared in a made for television Western. That was actually a pilot for a series which wasn't picked up. The title was "The Raiders" first shown in December 1963. It was an interesting idea and starred Brian Keith in the role of the narrator. Below the poster for the International release of this TV pilot.

Robert Culp portrayed James Butler 'Wild Bill" Hickok, Judi Meredith was Martha "Calamity Jane" Canary, Jim Mullen was William  F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody and among the cast coming in and out of the story for one or two scenes only, besides Paul Birch as "Paul King". The audience saw Simon Oakland as "Sergeant Austin Tremaine", Ben Cooper as "Tom King", Harry Carey, Jr as "Jellicoe", Richard Deacon as "Commissioner Mailer: and Frank DeKova as a "Pawnee Chief".

 Written by Sam Peckinpah, who did not direct, was "The Glory Guys". A fictionalized version of George Armstrong Custer and the Little Big Horn released to movie theaters on July 7, 1965. Paul Birch would portray "The Commanding General" and the film starred Tom Tryon, Harve Presnell and Senta Berger.  The supporting cast besides Birch included James Cann, Slim Pickens, Peter Breck, Michael Anderson, Jr. and an unknown Wayne Rodgers.

During the last three years of his career Paul Birch had his third appearance on "Bonanza", his fifth on "The Virginian" and one on the forgotten "A Man Called Shenandoah".
The actor's final motion picture role was also without screen credit in a film called "Counterpoint" starring Charlton Heston and Maximilian Schell. However, just prior to that release Paul Birch was "Mr. Fee" one of the founders of the Western community called "Hard Times". That is terrorized by Aldo Ray's "Man From Bodie" in the opening of director Burt Kennedy's vicious movie "Welcome to Hard Times". 

Paul Birch's "Mr. Fee" is murdered along with the town undertaker "Hanson" portrayed by Elisha Cook, Jr. for standing up to "The Man from Bodie". This is immediately followed by the rape and murder of "Fee's" girlfriend  "Flo", Ann McCrea, before Aldo Ray leaves. Eventually "Will Blue", Henry Fonda, will be forced to stand up for the community when Aldo Ray returns.

This movie is considered by many to be a downer especially at the end when Janice Rule's "Molly Riodan" is accidentally killed by a shotgun, but it catches you. Burt Kennedy put together a solid supporting cast besides Birch and Cook, Jr. It included Keenan Wynn, John Anderson, Warren Oates, Edgar Buchannan, Fay Spain, Janis Paige, Denver Pyle, Lon Chaney, Jr., Royal Dano and Paul Fix.

Paul Birch passed away on May 24, 1969 in St. Georges, Grenada.

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