So who was Don Coleman? I've always wondered since my best friend sent me this card from her grandmother's collection. For years we've had a discussion about the brown crud up in the corner. What is it? We both agree it would be best if it were chocolate. 

don coleman_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

This is an old arcade card and from what I've found out about Don Coleman he was born in Sheridan, Wyoming January 14, 1893. He died in Willits, California on December 16, 1985. According to IMDB he appeared in 9 films from 1927 until 1930. I can't find anything else about him. Maybe someday a relative will google his name and this post will show up and they'll be kind enough to fill me in. I've always loved this rootin' tootin' card. I'd love to know more about Don.


  1. Anonymous3/25/2015

    I can tell you some about Don and Petie (his wife, Patricia whom he married in 1927). They were our neighbors for many years. He grew up on a ranch in Montana and at the age of 14 started on the rodeo circuit as a broncho-busting cowboy. He became World Champion Bronco Buster. Don was very handsome, and became a well-known cowboy movie star in the silent movies. He posed for the William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody statue in Cody, WY. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney saw pictures of Don and asked him to come to New York to pose for the statue that she had been commissioned to sculpt. One of his greatest feats was training 1400 mules and horse for "Beau Geste" filmed in Yuma, AZ. with Ronald Coleman and Wallace Beery. Don retired from the movies in 1934 and moved to Willits, CA where he and Petie built the home they ultimately sold to Pacific Lumber. My parents purchased the home from Pacific Lumber and that's where we grew up. Everything in the home was custom and many of the pieces of furniture were made by the famous Tom Molesworth--a real show place. Don and Petie purchased 40 acres behind us on Commercial Street in Willits where they built a modest home and ranched cattle living a quiet and unassuming lifestyle. They were good, honest, down-to-earth people, very weathered from the sun and being out on the range. They never had children.

    1. I'm so thrilled you posted this. It's all fascinating and gives me a wonderful story to go along with the image. I will have to get out my photos from the Cody Museum to take a look at Don as Buffalo Bill. And I've probably driven down Commercial Street in Willits many times. It's a small world. Thanks!

    2. Anonymous6/30/2017

      I have a photo of myself (somewhere...) taken in a Willits bar when I was three days old, in 1949. Petie is sitting on a stool holding me, and Don is leaning over us. My Dad stands on her other side - he was Willits police chief at the time. Don and Petie were great people, and my grandad, a horseman from Kentucky, knew the Colemans well and they were Mister Coleman and Miz Petie to all us kids. We walked out Commercial many times to visit with them and admire their horses and, if I was lucky, sit up on one of Don's gentler mares down at the stalls. Grandad and Don would talk for hours about the relative merits of warm-blooded stock and working horses and Don's stud and such. All over my head, of course. And when the wild blackberries were ripe my grandma alawys sent Petie pies. Willits July 4th "Frontier Days" and rodeo were always a big deal, and Don and Petie rode in the parade almost every year until near their passings in 1985 and 1987, respectivelu. They had beautiful stock, and their custom saddles and tack simply dazzled small would-be cowboys like myself. They were genuine good people, respectful of all and well-liked and respected in turn. And I had no clue that Don had once been celebrity of sorts until I was grown.

    3. Thrilled you found this post and have shared this story. It's still one of my favorite cards and I love gradually finding out more about the man. Thank you! And I have to love Willits. I will miss passing through it when heading north now that the freeway bypasses it. But I'm sure the people in town will not miss the static traffic and gas fumes.