Chief Thundercloud ~ Cherokee (or Muskogee)

Published on March 9, 2015 by Amy

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Chief Thundercloud
Chief Thundercloud

Chief Thundercloud, (born Victor Daniels, April 12, 1899 – December 1, 1955) was an American character actor in Westerns.

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Information about Thundercloud is vague. Most biographies state that he was a full blooded Cherokee (or Muskogee), although others state that he had some German, Scottish and/or Irish ancestors; and that he was educated at the University of Arizona, although no record exists of his enrollment. The pressbook for The Lone Ranger Rides Again announced his parents as “Dark Cloud and Morning Star, aristocrats of the Muskogee tribe” but his death certificate lists his father as “Joseph Mahawa.”

Daniels worked many jobs before becoming a stuntman. From there he graduated to character actor status. His title “Chief” was a Hollywood invention. He had the title role in Geronimo (1939) and played Tonto in both Republic Lone Ranger serials, The Lone Ranger (1938) and The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939).

In later years, he worked with other western actors, performing in live shows at the Corriganville Movie Ranch, now the Corriganville Regional Park near Simi Valley, California. One of his last appearances was on March 1, 1955, as the Apache Geronimo in the premiere episode of the syndicated television series Buffalo Bill, Jr., starring Dick Jones in the fictional title role of a young Texas frontier marshal.

As a character actor

After working for some time as a stuntman, Thundercloud took on the classical character role of Tonto in the 1938 serial “The Lone Ranger”. This is perhaps where Thundercloud gained recognition as an official character actor.” The same year he had a small villain-like role in the first part of “Flaming Frontiers”, a 15 part cliff hanger about murder and double cross. The following year Thundercloud reprised his role as the Lone Ranger’s side kick in the “Lone Ranger Rides Again”.

Throughout the 1940s Chief Thundercloud continued to work as a character actor. In most of the films in which he was featured, he played an antagonist opposing the white protagonist. For example, in the 1940 film “Young Buffalo Bill” he played Akuna, a renegade Native American chief who commits murder while working as a hired hand. In 1946 he played the main villain in the western film Renegade Girl, playing Chief Whitecloud, a vengeful antagonist.

Although featured in a number of films, Chief Thundercloud went uncredited in some films, such as Gun Smoke (1935), a film about a ranch defending itself from a flood of sheep. He also appeared in the first two parts of the serial Custer’s Last Stand (1936), again he went uncredited.

Source: wikipedia Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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