Richard Dix was an American motion picture actor who achieved popularity in both silent and sound film. His standard on-screen image was that of the rugged and stalwart hero.
Born Ernst Carlton Brimmer on July 18, 1893, in St. Paul, Minnesota. There he was educated, and at the desires 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′ 0″ 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, became leading man for the Morosco Stock Company and his success there got him a contract with Paramount Pictures.
After his move to Hollywood, where 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. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1931 for his performance as Yancey Cravat in Cimarron, in which he shared top-billing with 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. An original poster for this film was catalogued with an estimated value of between $2000 – $3000 by Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas in the Summer of 2006. 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, Eduardo Ciannelli; the film was directed by Lew Landers.