About George Francis Beldam
University of Iowa alumnus Rex Bell began playing small film roles in the late '20s. Blessed with good looks and an easygoing manner, Bell rapidly achieved stardom as a cowboy hero. He appeared in scores of B-Westerns, was seen as Virgil Earp in 1942's Tombstone: The Town Too Tough to Die, and hosted a TV anthology of vintage sagebrushers, Cowboys and Injuns (1950). Entering politics in the 1950s, he served as Lieutenant Governor of Nevada from 1954 to 1962. During this period, he made his final screen appearance in The Misfits (1961) which was partially filmed in Reno.
He was born George Francis Beldam on October 16, 1903 in Chicago. Bell married actress Clara Bow in 1931. They had two sons, Tony Beldon (born 1934, changed name to Rex Anthony Bell, Jr.) and George Beldon, Jr. (born 1938). In 1931 Rex and Clara founded the Walking Box Ranch.
In 1944 Bell ran for the United States House of Representatives on the Republican ticket against Democrat Berkeley Bunker. The Nevada State Journal commented in November 1: "He has made friends where ever he appeared but consensus is that the time is too short to overcome a handicap of not being so well known as his opponent". The election was held November 7, and Bell got 19,096 votes against Bunker who received 36,648.
Bell was the leader of the Nevada Republican Party and in 1948 was an alternate to the Republican National Convention. He was also active in the Nevada Chamber of Commerce and Boy Scouts.
The ties Bell forged during those years helped him win the lieutenant governor's office in 1954. That year Charles H. Russell, the incumbent GOP governor, also won. In 1958 Democrat Grant Sawyer unseated Russell, but Bell won re-election as lieutenant governor. He died in office in 1962.
His final film appearance was a brief cameo as a cowboy in John Huston's film The Misfits (1961), which was shot on location in Nevada.
Died of a heart attack on July 4, 1962 shortly after attending a Fourth-of-July campaign kick-off event while running as the Republican candidate for Governor of Nevada in 1962. His grave is located in Glendale, California's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
The Rex Bell Elementary School in Las Vegas was named in honor of Bell.