Rex Lease Career

Rex Lease with Walter Brennan
Rex Lease (left) with Walter Brennan (right)

Rex Lease (February 11, 1903 – January 3, 1966) was an American actor. He appeared in over 300 films, mainly in westerns. Lease arrived in Hollywood in 1924. He found bit and supporting parts at Film Booking Office (FBO), Rayart, and other studios, and was given the opportunity to play a few leads. His first film was A Woman Who Sinned (FBO, 1924). Rex’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 very young Joan Crawford as the heroine and Rex as the “Solitaire Kid.” Tim 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 move 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.

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); Rex played the “Pecos Kid” in McCoy’s Lightnin’ Bill Carson (Puritan, 1936); and he worked in a couple of Tom Tyler’s, Ridin’ On (Reliable, 1936) and Fast Bullets (Reliable, 1936).

Rex’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 and on TV.

Rex Lease Personal

On January 3, 1966, Rex’s son Richard found his father dead on the kitchen floor at his Van Nuys, California home. He had died sometime between New Year’s Eve and January 3. Son Richard was later shot and killed in a traffic altercation with 2 teenagers. Lease was married at least 5 times.

Rex Lease Partial Filmography

  • Easy Money (1925)
  • The Last Edition (1925)
  • The College Hero (1927)
  • Not for Publication (1927)
  • Enemies of Society (1927)
  • The Law of the Range (1928)
  • Two Sisters (1929)
  • Troopers Three (1930)
  • Sunny Skies (1930)
  • Hot Curves (1930)
  • Borrowed Wives (1930)
  • The Utah Kid (1930)
  • Chinatown After Dark (1931)
  • The Sign of the Wolf (1931)
  • The Monster Walks (1932)
  • Rough Riding Ranger (1935)
  • Fighting Caballero (1935)
  • The Ghost Rider (1935)
  • Custer’s Last Stand (1936)
  • Ten Laps to Go (1936)
  • Aces and Eights (1936)
  • Lightnin’ Bill Carson (1936)
  • The Silver Trail (1937)
  • Heroes of the Alamo (1937)
  • The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939)
  • Under Texas Skies (1940)
  • The Trail Blazers (1940)
  • Lone Star Raiders (1940)
  • A Chump at Oxford (1940)
  • Outlaws of Cherokee Trail (1941)
  • In Old California (1942)
  • Flame of Barbary Coast (1945)
  • Dakota (1945)
  • Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (1950)
  • Jefferson Drum NBC-TV, as Tobin in episode “The Cheater” (1958)