Richard Dix (Ernst Carlton Brimmer)

Richard Dix

Richard Dix was born Ernst Carlton Brimmer on July 18, 1893, in St. Paul, Minnesota. There he was educated, and at the desire of his father, studied to be a surgeon. His obvious acting talent in his school dramatic club led him to leading roles in most of the school plays. At 6′ and 180 pounds, Dix excelled in sports, especially football and baseball. These skills would serve him well in the vigorous film roles he would go on to play. After a year at the University of Minnesota, he took a position at a bank, spending his evenings training for the stage. His professional start was with a local stock company, and this led to similar work in New York City. The death of his father left him with a mother and sister to support. He went to Los Angeles and became leading man for the Morosco Stock Company. His success there got him a contract with Paramount Pictures. He then changed his name to Richard Dix. After his move to Hollywood, he began a career in Western movies. One of the few actors to successfully bridge the transition from silent films to talkies, Dix’s best-remembered early role was in Cecil B. Demille’s silent version of The Ten Commandments (1923). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1931 for his performance as Yancey Cravat in Cimarron, in which he was top-billed over Irene Dunne. Cimarron, based on the popular novel by Edna Ferber, took the Best Picture award. Dix starred in another RKO adventure, The Lost Squadron. A memorable role for Dix was in the 1935 British futuristic film The Tunnel. Dix starred in The Great Jasper and Blind Alibi in the late 1930s. His popular RKO Radio Pictures co-star in Blind Alibi was Ace the Wonder Dog. Dix’s human co-stars were Whitney Bourne and Eduardo Ciannelli; the film was directed by Lew Landers. Dix also starred as the homicidal Captain Stone in the Val Lewton production of The Ghost Ship, directed by Mark Robson.

In 1941, Richard Dix played Wild Bill Hickok in Badlands of Dakota and portrayed Wyatt Earp the following year in Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die, featuring Edgar Buchanan as Curly Bill Brocious. In 1944, he starred in The Whistler, the first in a series of eight “Whistler” films made by Columbia Pictures. He also starred in the next six movies in the offbeat, crime-related series, playing a different character each time. (He did not play the “Whistler”, who was an unseen narrator.) Dix retired from acting after the seventh of these films, The Thirteenth Hour. He died two years later, after suffering a heart attack at age 56. After suffering a serious heart attack on September 12, 1949 while on a train from New York to Los Angeles  Dix died at the age of 56 on September 20, 1949. He was survived by four children from his two marriages. Richard Dix, Sr. was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. Richard Dix has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1610 Vine Street.

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  • July, 18, 1893
  • USA
  • St. Paul, Minnesota


  • September, 20, 1949
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • heart attack


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • Glendale, California
  • USA

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