Rex Lease

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Rex Lease
Borrowed Wives lobby card.jpg
Lease with Vera Reynolds on lobby card for Borrowed Wives , 1930
Born(1903-02-11)February 11, 1903
Central City, West Virginia, U.S.
DiedJanuary 3, 1966(1966-01-03) (aged 62)
Other namesRex Lloyd Lease
Years active1924–1960

Rex Lloyd Lease (February 11, 1903 January 3, 1966) was an American actor. He appeared in over 300 films, mainly in Poverty Row westerns.



Lease arrived in Hollywood in 1924. He found bit and supporting parts at Film Booking Office (FBO), Rayart, more, and was given the opportunity to play a few leads. His first film was A Woman Who Sinned (FBO, 1924).

Lease's earliest westerns were a pair of Tim McCoy silents at MGM, one of which was The Law of the Range (MGM, 1928) which had a young Joan Crawford as the heroine and Lease as the Solitaire Kid. McCoy and Lease became friends, and over the next dozen or so years, he appeared in seven more McCoy westerns.

He had a featured role in director Frank Capra's The Younger Generation (Columbia, 1929), a tale of a Jewish family that moves to a more up-scale neighborhood.

He successfully made the transition to talkies, and starred in melodramas, action flicks, old dark house mysteries, and comedies as well as a couple of western serials and about a dozen low-budget sagebrush yarns and outdoor adventures.[ citation needed ] His work in the 1930s included six Western films for Superior Talking Pictures Corporation. Some featured cowboy music, and some had him paired with young actor Bobby Nelson. [1]

In between lead roles, Lease did featured parts in some B westerns. He was Hoot Gibson's brother in Cavalcade of the West (Walter Futter Prod., 1936); Lease played the "Pecos Kid" in McCoy's Lightnin' Bill Carson (Puritan, 1936); played Col. William B. Travis in Heroes of the Alamo and he worked in a couple of Tom Tyler's, Ridin' On (Reliable, 1936) and Fast Bullets (Reliable, 1936). Lease had the lead in the 1936 film serial Custer's Last Stand (1936).

Lease's finale as a star had him teaming up with Rin-Tin-Tin Jr. in The Silver Trail (Reliable, 1937).

Though no longer afforded star billing, he continued in smaller roles into the 1950s in films (recurring as the sheriff in four Ma and Pa Kettle movies) and on TV.

Personal life

In 1930, Lease pleaded guilty in a Malibu court to a charge of battery on actress and dancer Vivian Duncan. [2] The charge resulted from his beating of Duncan at a home in Malibu Beach on July 7, 1930. [3] He paid a $50 fine, insisting that she initiated the altercation. Duncan's brother, Harold, retaliated in August 1930, beating Lease in a hotel cafe in Hollywood. [2]

Lease was married at least five times.


On January 3, 1966, Rex Lease was found dead by his son Richard on the kitchen floor at his Van Nuys, California, home. He had died sometime between New Year's Eve and January 3. The cause of death was undisclosed. Richard was later shot and killed at age 25 in a road rage traffic altercation with two teenagers.

Selected filmography

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  1. Pitts, Michael R. (2015). Poverty Row Studios, 1929-1940: An Illustrated History of 55 Independent Film Companies, with a Filmography for Each. McFarland. p. 375. ISBN   9781476610368 . Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  2. 1 2 "Rex Lease beaten by Harold Duncan". The Sacramento Bee. August 28, 1930. p. 3. Retrieved September 11, 2020 via
  3. "Vivian Duncan hurt in fight". The Los Angeles Times. July 8, 1930. p. 22. Retrieved September 11, 2020 via
  4. "Rex Lease".