Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mr. Ormer Locklear

Ormer Locklear is a name that may be one of the most familiar out of the people I am covering in this 'series' of silent actors who never appeared in the talkies. Viola Dana talked briefly about their relationship in the documentary, Hollywood

Ormer Leslie Locklear was born on October 29, 1891 in Greenville, Texas. He was the second of nine children born to James, a carpenter, and his wife, Odessa. He joined the family which already included older brother, Osmond and older sister, Evalyn. Younger sisters, Norrie, Ola, Thenesca, Gussie, and Mary, and brothers, James and Edward came along after him.

I got a little confused looking at the census records for his family because the children's names and the number of children changed within a span of 10 years from 1900 to 1910. Judging from what I have read, Edward passed away while still a child because he is not in the 1910 census record and his other siblings weren't born until a few years after the 1900 census. His sister, Ola passed away in 1912. 

There will not be a test on his genealogy, I promise. I just like to include as much as I can about their family and early life. But, on with the star of the show, Ormer!

While growing up, his ambitions were towards carpentry like his father and his daredevil stunts were more or less stuff to do on the side for extra money and for the thrills. He started off with cars, trains, and other moving vehicles before he moved on to airplanes.

Ormer became very interested in airplanes and even tried to build his own, but his work was interrupted by the outbreak of WWI. He joined up and worked as a flying instructor and was the one who could/would make in flight repairs when necessary. It was also during this time that he saw his first barnstorming show and thought to himself, "Oh, I can do better than that!" 

Ormer left the army and joined up with the show until he and a few of his friends got their hands on an airplane of their own and started their own show. This then led the way to appearances in movies. His film career only consisted of two films, at least two that he was given credit for. 

The first film appearance Ormer made was in 1919's, The Great Air Robbery. His second and last appearance was in the 1920 film, The Skywayman. 


On the last day of filming The Skywayman, August 2, 1920, Ormer and his friend and fellow daredevil, Milton 'Skeets' Elliott were killed. Elliott was piloting the plane and was supposed to dive the plane downwards towards some oil derricks to make it look like he was crashing. He had told the lighting crew before taking off to turn off the lights so that he would be able to see well enough to pull up in time. For some reason, the crew did not turn off the lights in time and the plane crashed into the ground. Apparently the footage of the crash was used in the original release but after that, it seems to have disappeared. 

Ormer was buried at the Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Fort Worth, Texas. Skeets Elliott was buried at the Forrest Cemetery in Gadsden, Alabama. They both were given very large and lavish funerals with military honors in Los Angeles. 

Ormer was married once, to a woman named Ruby Graves in 1915. She HATED his love of being a daredevil and wanted him to stop being so reckless. This led to their marriage being a very unhappy one, and although they remained married until his death, they led separate lives. After Ormer died, his parents sued Ruby for their son's estate and home. He was rumored to have left a fortune of around $100,000. I am not sure what the outcome of the dispute was.

Viola Dana and Ormer

As I stated before, he was involved with Viola Dana at the time of his death and was supposed to have been engaged to her. In the Hollywood documentary, Viola talked about how it was love at first sight when she met Ormer and that the two would go on airplane rides and chase their friends cars in Hollywood and she would throw her lipsticks at them. Poor Viola witnessed the crash that killed her boyfriend/fiance and had to be held back from the crash when she tried to run towards it.

In 1916, Ormer met Harry Houdini and the two partnered up on a trick that involved Houdini being  tied to Ormer's motorcycle and he had to try and break out of his chains. 

Ormer, Jack Dempsey, and Viola Dana

"Safety second is my motto!" ~~ Ormer Locklear


  1. It is so sad about his life-well everyone's really. I love that documentary and Viola's eyes just showed the sadness still even though it was decades ago. My heart went out to her

    1. I know, it is so sad to hear her say that even after all this time, she still didn't like to talk about it. Poor thing.