|McLaglen's youthfulness in this photograph belies his later roles for director John Ford where he was classically cast as the
grizzled Irish U.S. Cavalry sergeant in such films as Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. An interesting side note to The
Black Watch is the fact that a then unknown John Wayne played an uncredited part as a member of 42nd Highlanders in the film.
Victor Andrew de Bier McLaglen was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England on 10 December 1886 . His father Andrew, a
Anglican bishop, moved the family to South Africa when McLaglen was a child.
While The Black Watch takes plaice in post-Victorian times McLaglen himself actually did serve just after the death of Queen
Victoria when he joined the army towards the end of the Anglo-Boer War. He lied about his age - he was only 14 at the time - with
the hopes of seeing action in South Africa. His service papers describe him as being 5 feet 11 1/2 inches tall and 144 pounds at
the time of his attestation with the 1st Life Guards on July 3, 1901. The papers also state that he had previous military service
with the City of London Artillery. This could be a reference to the Honorable Artillery Company since there was no unit officially
referred to as the City of London Artillery to the best of my knowledge. He received Good Conduct Pay on 3 July, 1903 and
again on 1 April, 1904. Not long after this on 5 October, 1904 No. 2370 Trooper McLaglen was discharged "...in consequence of
his having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment." McLaglen served for a total of 3 years, 95 days.
McLaglen's older brother Sydney Temple Leopold McLaglen, had enlisted in the Royal Horse Artillery and was also discharged
in 1900 for having enlisted while under age. Perhaps over eagerness ran in the family.
Four years later, he moved to Canada, where he earned a living as a wrestler and heavyweight boxer, with several notable wins in
the ring. One of his most famous fights was against Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson. The fight was a 6 round exhibition
bout. Between bouts, he toured with a circus, which offered $25 to anyone who could go three rounds with him.
He returned to England during World War One and it has been said that he served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers although he
actually served as a Temporary Captain with the 10th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, now part of the The Princess of Wales's
Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires). He served for a time as military Provost Marshal at Sheikh Saad, 125 miles
south-east of Baghdad along the Tigris river. He would receive a Mention in Despatches from General French on 12 January,
1920. He also continued boxing, and was named Heavyweight Champion of the British Army in 1918.
2nd Lieutenant 10th Batt., The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) - 19 June, 1915
Lieutenant - 1st July 1917
Temporary Captain - ?
Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal - ?
Relinquishes temporary rank of Captain - 4 March, 1919
Mentioned in Despatches - 12 January, 1920
His Medal Index Card states that he was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals.
After the war, he began taking roles in British silent films. McLaglen's career took a turn in the 1920s, when he moved to
Hollywood. He became a popular character actor, with a particular knack for playing drunks. The highlight of his career was an
Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in The Informer (1935), based on a novel by Liam O'Flaherty. Near the end of his
career he was nominated again, this time for Best Supporting Actor, for his role opposite John Wayne in The Quiet Man (1952).
He was especially popular with director John Ford, who frequently included McLaglen in his films. Toward the end of his career,
McLaglen made several guest appearances on television, particularly in Western series such as Have Gun, Will Travel and
He died of a heart attack in 1959. He had by that time become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Black and White Publicity Still
8 inches by 10 inches
Autry - Photograpgher
Fox Film Corporation
Hollywood, California, United States