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Philip Kieffer

Philip Kieffer American army major and actor

American army major and actor
Philip Kieffer
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American army major and actor
A.K.A. Major Philip Kieffer, Phil Keefer, Phillip Keiffer, Phillippe Kieffer
Was Actor Military personnel
From United States of America
Type Film, Television, Stage and Radio Military
Gender male
Birth 31 July 1886, Philadelphia, United States of America
Death 13 July 1962, Los Angeles, United States of America (aged 76 years)
Star sign LeoLeo
Father: Lorenzo M. Kieffer
Spouse: Ruth A Downham KiefferBeatrice Brett Kieffer
Children: Kathleen Kieffer LudlamWilliam Brett Kieffer
The details


Philip Kieffer (1886 - 1962) was an American army major and actor, active during 1930s through mid-1950s.

Early life

Philip Kieffer was born on July 31, 1886 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as Phillip James Kieffer, to Lorenzo M. Kieffer, who was a captain in the Union Army during the American Civil War. His brother George, was a doctor, and his two other brothers, Charles and Victor, were a U.S. army Major and a Lieutenant, respectively.


Army career

Kieffer attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and graduated in 1911. He was a cadet at West Point from 2 August 1907 to 13 June 1911. After was graduated from West Point in 1911, he was promoted in the Army to Second Lieutenant, 4th cavalry.

He served at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, on Mexican border with regiment, from September 1911, to January 1913; in Hawaii, with regiment from January 1913 to February 1916; with 13th cavalry in Punitive Expedition into Mexico, from March 1916. to February 1917.

Promotions within the army

  • First Lieutenant of Cavalry, 1 July 1916
  • Captain of Cavalry, 15 May 1917
  • Major of Cavalry, National Army, on 7 June 1918

Kieffer resigned from the army in February 1920.

Acting career

After retiring from the army, Kieffer made an entry into Hollywood, as an actor and technical consultant.

He made his film debut in 1928 in Julien Duvivier-directed comedy film, Le tourbillon de Paris. In 1934, he appeared as "Capt. Alek" in Armand Schaefer's Sixteen Fathoms Deep.

Over the years, through mid-1950s, Kieffer appeared in numerous Western and war movies, working alongside notable names including John Wayne, John Ford, Mary Brian, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Robert Livingston, Henry Fonda, Jeff Chandler, Lester Orlebeck, Earl Felton, and Frank Nugent

The role of an army person, which he played frequently, became his trademark in the industry.

In addition, using his army experience, he served as technical advisor and military consultant for a few war-related movies:

  • Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • Fort Apache (1948)
  • She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
  • Rio Grande (1950)
  • The Half-Breed (1952)
  • Hondo (1953)

Kieffer was last seen in the George Marshall-derected western, Pillars of the Sky, in which he portrayed "Major Randall."

Personal life

Kieffer was married twice, first to Ruth A Downham Kieffer (1891–1965), and later to Beatrice Brett Kieffer (1891–1989.) He had two children; daughter, Kathleen Kieffer Ludlam (1913–2007) and son William Brett Kieffer (1914–1997, ) who was a Lieutenant General in the US army.


Kieffer died on July 13, 1962 in Los Angeles, California, and was buried at Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, California.

To cite the article
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Article Title: Philip Kieffer: American army major and actor - Biography and Life
Author(s): PeoplePill.com Editorial Staff
Website Title: PeoplePill
Publisher: PeoplePill
Article URL: https://peoplepill.com/people/philip-kieffer/
Publish Date: 23 Nov 2016
Last Update Date: 09 Dec 2019
Date Accessed: 07 Jul 2020
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