Fox Brothers:  Finis, Jay (Edwin Carewe), and Wallace



            The three Fox brothers influenced film making for over fifty years.  They were actors as well as prolific writers of screenplays and stories.  They also directed and produced movies and television shows.  Edwin and Finis worked primarily in the silent film industry but Wallace produced and directed movies and television shows until his death in 1958.  Collectively, the three brothers wrote 50 films, directed 153, produced 33, acted in 37, assisted in directing 14, managed the production of  two, and had miscellaneous roles in three.[1] They occasionally collaborated.



Parents:  Frank Marion Fox and Sarah Priddy (Chickasaw)




            Frank Marion Fox was born in Terre Haute, Indiana.  He grew up in Texas and was educated at Weatherford and Bryan, Texas.[2]  At the age of 14 he joined the 5th Texas Calvary and served four years in the Civil War participating in the battle of Galveston and all principal battles in Louisiana.  He was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Yellow Bayou after which he was held in New Orleans for two months before he was exchanged. 

            After the war, at 18, he entered the mercantile business in Bryan, Texas where he worked for two years until his appointment as a government agent at Fort Griffin, Texas.  A year later he went to Indianapolis, Indiana.  He stayed there for about a year before moving in 1870 to Stringtown in Indian Territory and began farming in the vicinity of Atoka, Oklahoma. In 1872 he married Sarah J. Priddy, the daughter of Col. Joseph Priddy, who settled in the area in 1848. They lived in Stonewall in the Chickasaw Nation where he began a cattle business.  Sarah’s father was Caucasian and her mother was one-sixteenth Chickasaw.  Sarah was educated at Stark College in Paris, Texas.[3]

            Six months after the marriage, Frank and Sarah moved to the end of the line of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (MK&T RR/Katy) where he again set up a mercantile business.  He remained in the Caddo, Oklahoma area for over 12 years before moving to Purcell, Oklahoma in May, 1887 where he opened the town’s first merchandise broker’s office.  He developed the town by building rental property and built his residence on the west side of Main Street.  In 1883 he improved 5,000 acres of farm land where Ardmore, Oklahoma now stands.[4]

            Fox was one of the owners and procured the charter for the Ardmore Coal Co. mines which covered an area of 4,000 acres of coal lands.  He was chairman of the National Progressive Convention held at Purcell in the summer of 1890.[5]

            They were living in Gainesville, Texas in 1883 when their second son was born.  The Gainesville, Cooke County Texas, Register of November 1929, quoted Edward Carewe (Jay Fox) as saying his parents “Frank Marion Fox and Sarah Priddy, who were both dead, had been in business in Gainesville for a number of years before moving to the Indian Territory where Frank practiced law, living in Ardmore where he remained for the rest of his life.”   

            Frank and Sarah had three sons:  F. Finis, Jay J. (Edwin Carewe), and Wallace. 


F. Finis Fox (Chickasaw)


            There is a discrepancy in Finis’ birth year.  The official movie studio biography gives his birth year as 1881. Who’s Who in Oklahoma 1935 shows it as 1882 and the Internet Movie Database (Imdb) shows 1884.   Based on census records, he was born on October 8, 1881 in Caddo, Oklahoma and died November 7, 1949 in San Antonio, Texas. 

            Finis was educated in private schools in Purcell, Oklahoma and in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He attended Arkadelphia Methodist College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the Polytechnic College in Ft. Worth, Texas, and Ft. Worth University.  He served as a private in the Spanish American War and later lived in Oklahoma City where he worked as a newspaper editor for the Daily Oklahoman.[6]

            A 1906 photo identifies Fox as a Col. Asst. Adj. General in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Oklahoma Division and on the staff of General Stephen D. Lee.[7]  When he was 20 he was elected to the Chickasaw Legislature and served several terms.  He began his career as a scenario writer in 1910.[8]

            An article in the Kingfisher Free Press dated April 7, 1904 from Ardmore, Oklahoma states that Mrs. F. Finis Fox, wife of Representative Fox of the Chickasaw Legislature, is dead and will be buried in Kansas City.  The 1930 Census shows Finis, age 47, married to Loris Fox, age 23, and living in Beverly Hills, California. 

            Beginning in 1910 Finis joined his brother Edwin Carewe (Jay Fox) in Hollywood and began writing scenarios for silent movie stars such as Mabel Taliaferro, Harold Lockwood, Bert Lytell, and Bessie Love.  He wrote the popular 1920 version of Alias Jimmy Valentine and became a director of low-budget films.  Late in his career he returned to screenwriting and penned Ramona (1928) and Evangeline (1929) for Dolores Del Rio.[9]  Both films were directed by his brother Edwin.

            During his twenty productive years in Hollywood, 1910 thru 1930, he individually wrote screenplays, titles, adaptations, scenarios and stories for forty movies.  He directed seven and produced The Man Between (1923). [10] 


Jay J. Fox/Edwin Carewe (Chickasaw)


            Jay J. Fox was born on March 5, 1883 in Gainesville, Texas and died January 22, 1940 at his home in Hollywood.  He is buried at Hollywood Forever in Section One, Grave 471 marked by a grave stone installed in 2009—69 years after his burial.[11]

            As a young boy, he became interested in the theater watching traveling medicine shows.  He studied at the universities of Texas and Missouri and worked with regional theatrical groups.  In 1910 he joined the Dearborn Stock Company in New York.  In 1912 he changed his name to Edwin Carewe by combining the first name from Edwin Booth and the last name from the character he was portraying.  He launched his film career in 1912 as an actor with the Lubin Company of Philadelphia followed a year later by his directing debut with the Rolfe-Metro Company’s The Final Judgment (1915).[12]

            From 1915 into the 1930’s he directed over forty feature films, including Resurrection (1927), Ramona (1928), Evangeline (1929), and The Spoilers (1930).  He is credited with discovering Gary Cooper, Delores Del Rio, Warner Baxter, Wallace Beery, and Francis X. Bushman.[13]  His brother, Finis, wrote may of the stories and scenarios for Edwin’s films and his daughter, actress Rita Carewe, appeared in several.

            Carewe directed films for all the major studies and at one time had his own movie lot, Tec-Art, on Melrose Avenue across from Paramount.[14]  Evangeline (1929) was a United Artist Pictures production and the exterior scenes were shot on location in Santa Cruz, California—the forest primeval in the Big Basin and the love scenes at Minnehaha Falls in the Blackburn Gulch.  The Acadian village scenes were filmed at Point Lobos, California where a village had been built for the movie.  The story of the travel to Louisiana and the deportation scenes were shot at other locations.[15] 

            Carewe enjoyed financial success with his silent films but was not able to translate that success to sound.  In the 1930’s he produced sound remakes of his successful silent pictures and later low-budget and religions films.[16]  His last feature was Are We Civilized? (1934) which he self-produced in an effort to make a comeback.[17]

            In April, 1932, Carewe was charged with income tax evasion in the amount of $108,547.20 covering the period from 1926 to 1929.  The dispute with the Treasury Department was over profits from a picture produced abroad, featuring Dolores Del Rio.  He was indicted and released on bond.[18] 

            Carewe married Mary Jane Mason in California in around 1905 and they had three children:  Carol Lee, Rita and Mary Jane.  In 1925 he married Mary Akin when she was just 17 and he was 38.  They honeymooned in Mexico City where they were introduced to Lolita del Rio (Delores Del Rio) and Carewe convinced her and her husband, Jamie, to move to Hollywood.

Carewe and Mary had two children:  Sally Ann (b. 1925) and William Edwin (b. 1927).   They were still married at the time of the 1930 Census and were living at 1859 North Western Avenue in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California.[19]

            Edwin Carewe (Jay Fox) died from a heart ailment in his Hollywood apartment.  During his career he directed 57 feature films, wrote screenplays for four, produced 19, and acted in 36.


Wallace W. Fox  (Chickasaw)


            Wallace was the third child of  Frank Marion and Sarah Priddy Fox and brother to Edwin Cawere (Jay J. Fox) and F. Finis Fox.   He was born March 9, 1985 in Purcell, Oklahoma and died June 30, 1958 in Hollywood, California.  He was married to Cleo Easton.

            Wallace worked as a movie property man in 1919 and apprenticed with Edwin as an assistant director.  His first film as a director was a silent movie in 1927, The Bandit’s Son and he is best known for his “poverty row” output.  Wallace was the chief production aid on Evangeline—working with his brothers: Edwin as Producer/Directo; and Finis as the writer.

When the talkie era arrived, he was hired for his willingness to adhere to schedules and budget[20]and from 1927 until his death in 1958, he directed 89 movies and television shows.  His primary genre was western and action—movies featuring The Cisco Kid, The Gene Autry Show (1951-1953), Annie Oakley (1954), The Range Rider (1952), Pride of the Plains (1944), The Mexicali Kid (1938)—but he was the associate director for fourteen films such as The Last of the Mohicans (1936) and production manager for thirteen films including Little Women (1933).   He wrote screenplays for six early talkies made in the 1930’s.

            He worked with Bela Lugosi (Dracula, 1931), Lon Chaney, Jr., Clayton Moore, Frances Langford and many of the popular stars of the time.  His career highlights include Career Girl (1944), Red Morning (1935), and Gunslingers (1950).[21]

[1]  Finis Fox.  Edwin Carewe.  Wallace Fox.  Filmography.

[2] Leaders and Leading Men of the Indian Territory.  Vol. 1, Choctaws and Chickasaws, page 302.  H. F. O’Beirne.  

  American Publishers’ Association.  1891.

[3] Purcell Register.  March 30, 1893. Vol. 9, p. 2.,  F. M. Fox

[4] Purcell Register.

[5] Leaders and Leading Men of the Indian Territory.

[6] Who’s Who in Oklahoma 1935, p. 168

[7] Daily Oklahoman.  April 1, 1906.  Page 8, column 3.  Photo “Sons of Confederate Veterans at New Orleans.”


[11]  September 12, 2009.  Edwin Carewe Marked at Hollywood Forever.

[12] The Handbook of Texas – Carewe, Edwin

[13] Imdb

[14] Allenellenberger

[15]  Santa Cruz Evening News, January 3, 1929, p.3

[16] The Handbook of Texas

[19] 1930 United States Federal Census

[20]  Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide