|born: 08 May 1891
Salt Lake City, Utah,
United States of America
|died: 19 February 1952
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
(uremia, age 60)
|American actor who was often seen as a police officer in several of the Laurel & Hardy shorts.
On the night of 2 April 1909, 17-year old Lufkin was caught tampering with the air brakes on a Saltair train, delaying the return of "several hundred passengers" to Salt Lake City from a dance at the Saltair resort. According to one article, "Lufkin 'cut the air' and started to jump, but the conductor happened to be near and nabbed him. The train came to a sudden stop and all the passengers were rudely jostled in their seats, while several came near being thrown off and possibly ground to pieces underneath the wheels." Two sections of the train were affected, with the second being the immediate victim, and the first stalled. Another article says Lufkin also cut the lights, and that the train broke in two (presumably the two sections), "causing a near-panic among the passengers." As a result, the passengers had to walk "some miles" the rest of the way back.
"Smart alecks" meddling with the air on Saltair trains had been proving a frequent headache for the railway company, who were looking to "[prosecute] offenders to the limit." The company wanted Lufkin locked up in the state prison for committing a felony, but since he was underage, he instead wound up in the juvenile court. Lufkin pled guilty, confessing to Judge E. G. Gowans that he "just wanted to have a little fun." After Judge Gowans rightfully reprimanded him, noting that his act of "fun" could have been at the cost of several innocent lives, he sentenced Lufkin to serve time in the Utah State Industrial School, a juvenile reform school in nearby Ogden, "to meditate over the seriousness of his little joke." One article concluded, "Unless he shows remarkable progress in good behavior, Lufkin will remain there until he is of age—four years."
Fast-forward three years and eight months, and 21-year old Lufkin is out of reform school and working as a bellboy at the Wilson hotel in his hometown of Salt Lake City. In December 1912, Lufkin was arrested yet again by a pair of detectives under suspicion of stealing a diamond pin from a hotel guest, traveling salesman L. H. Cooper. The article concluded, "No complaint was secured against Lufkin yesterday, though he was held pending investigation." Beyond this one article, I have not found anything further on this later incident.
Sam's Dad, Samuel Henry Lufkin (1863-1920) was variously a laborer, teamster and piano mover. He married Sam's Mom, Martha Alice Yates (1866-1944) in 1887. They had Sam's older sister in 1888 and his younger brother in 1894. The sister died at the age of 3 from a form of malnutrition (marasmus) the year Sam was born and the brother died from drowning at the age of 5 when Sam was 8. His Dad didn't work most of that year and no telling how these incidents affected the family's psyche. The Mom may have become overly protective as Sam lived with her most of his adult life until she died in 1944.
Some time between 1903 and January 1907, Martha divorced Sam's Father but for some reason she listed herself as "widow of Samuel H." in the 1907 SLC City Directory even though he was very much alive for another 13 years. Sixteen year-old Sam listed himself as "student" at his Mom's address.
In January 1908, Martha married Clarence A. Hendershot (1871-1933). He was a title abstract researcher for a title insurance company. In April 1909, Sam was sent to reform school (juvenile prison) as documented above but served a year or less of the possible 4 year sentence. His behavior must have been good enough to satisfy the authorities that he had "turned around" and learned his lesson because in the 1910 Census (SLC), he is living with his Mom and step-father with the name of "Hendershot" and working as a "building engineer". I found no further evidence of Sam having "trouble with the law".
As noted above, Sam was being investigated for the theft of a diamond stick pen while working as a hotel bellhop (1912 Dec.12th newspaper article). It may be coincidence, but on Dec.13th, he married Gladys E. Slater (1894-1925) and they "beat a path" to Los Angeles where his natural Father was already living and working.
In 1916 Sam is living with wife Gladys (1916 LA Voter Registration).
In June 1917, Sam is still in LA, working as a salesman for the Wilshire Oil Co. and claiming an exemption for his dependent wife.
In Jan.1920, his Mom and Step-father are living in LA and Sam lives with them as "married" but without his wife. He is working as a laborer for a city surveying crew. His natural Father died this year and his wife, Gladys died in 1925 and we don't know if they were in the process of getting a divorce or her death ended the marriage. (undocumented Family Tree).
In the April 1930 LA Census, Sam is listed as "married"; living with his Mom and step-father; working as a movie actor.
In 1931 he marries Libby Drahos (1904/1911-1973 undocumented Family Tree) and their son Samuel William Lufkin Jr. is born on 26 Sep.1931 (documented). Nothing further is found of the son in records or Family Trees.
In the 1940 LA Census, Sam is living with his Mom as "married" and no wife or children present. Libby Drahos, (undocumented wife) is living in Iowa as "divorced" with her parents and no children present.
In 1942 (WWII Draft Card), Sam is living with his Mom and lists her as the contact person who will always know where he lives. (She died in 1944).
In Oct.1951, Sam marries Maude L. Anderson (1903-1974) in Los Angeles, 4 months before he died (documented).
In Sam's Feb.1952 "LA Times" obituary, his wife Maude and her children are noted but no mention is made of a son or previous wives. Since 1947 he claimed to have been a member of the original "Keystone Kops".
His remains are interred at Valhalla in North Hollywood, the same cemetery as where Oliver Hardy is buried.
|Real name: Samuel William Lufkin
|Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography;
all films with Laurel & Hardy.