Wild Bill Elliott was an American film actor. He specialized in playing the rugged heroes of B-
Elliott was born Gordon A. Nance in Pattonsburg, Missouri, the son of cattle broker Leroy "Roy" Whitfield Nance and his wife, the former Maude Myrtle Auldridge.
The young Nance grew up within twenty miles of his birthplace, most of his youth spent on a ranch near King City, Missouri. His father was a cattle rancher and commissioner buyer for the Kansas City stockyards. Riding and roping were part of Gordon Nance's upbringing. He won first place in a rodeo event in the 1920 American Royal livestock show. He briefly attended Rockhurst College, a Jesuit school in Kansas City, but soon left for California with hopes of becoming an actor.
Elliott starred in the 1952 western Fargo.
By 1925, he was getting occasional extra work in films. He took classes at the Pasadena Playhouse and appeared in a few stage roles there. By 1927, he had made his first Western, The Arizona Wildcat, and in it, played his first featured role. Several co-
Elliott began to be noticed in some minor B-
In 1943, Elliott signed with Republic Pictures, which cast him in a series of Westerns alongside George 'Gabby' Hayes. The first of these, Calling Wild Bill Elliott, gave Elliott the name by which he would best be known and by which he would be billed almost exclusively for the rest of his career.
Following several films in which both actor and character shared the name "Wild Bill Elliott," the actor took over the role for which he would be best remembered, that of Red Ryder in a series of sixteen movies about the famous comic strip cowboy and his young Indian companion Little Beaver (played in Elliott's films by Bobby Blake). Elliott played the role for only two years, but would forever be associated with it. Elliott's trademark was a pair of six guns worn butt-
Elliott's career thrived during and after the Red Ryder films, and he continued making B-
Elliott retired from films (except for a couple of TV Western pilots which were not picked up). He worked for a time as a spokesman for Viceroy cigarettes and hosted a local TV program in Las Vegas, Nevada which featured many of his Western films.
Elliott was a breeder of appaloosa horses and showed them in breeder contests for best in breed. He showed his horses in the Western States contest in Colorado Springs, Colorado at The Broadmoor resort's stadium in 1953.
Elliott married Helen Josephine Meyers in February 1927. Their daughter, Barbara Helen Nance, was born October 14, 1927. Elliott and his wife were divorced in 1961, and Elliott remarried that same year, to Dolly Moore. Following his retirement in 1957, Elliott moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he bought a ranch. He died there from lung cancer on November 26, 1965, aged 61. He is interred at Palm Downtown Mortuary/Cemetery in Las Vegas.