Kidnappers Foil in Northwest Arkansas

Melton Barker's Kidnappers Foil film series was named to the 2012 National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

In February 1937 Melton Barker came to Northwest Arkansas to film three separate movie "shorts" styled after the popular "Our Gang" comedies (a.k.a. "Little Rascals") of the 1930s. Barker was an itinerant filmmaker from Dallas who shot the same movie, Kidnappers Foil, dozens of times from the 1930s into the early 1970s, primarily in towns throughout the Southeast and Midwest. The plot was simple. A young girl is kidnapped after her birthday party. Her father offers a reward for her return. A group of children search for her, eventually rescuing her from her captors. Then a small talent show is staged, featuring the kids singing and dancing. To make the movies, Melton Barker Juvenile Productions teamed up with local theater mogul William Sonneman. After casting calls were placed in area newspapers, would-be actors auditioned for various roles. Those who made the cut received training for a "small fee." It took about a week to shoot all three movies in Fayetteville, Springdale, and Bentonville plus the talent shows, which were filmed in Rogers. A few weeks later, Barker delivered the completed movies to Sonneman who showed them at his Palace (Fayetteville), Concord (Springdale), and Plaza (Bentonville) theaters.  View still shots from the local movies.

Once they were shown, the movie reels were placed inside a film carrier box and forgotten for decades. In 2016 they were found in Springdale and placed on eBay where Todd Terpening spotted them. He bought the films and donated them to the Library of Congress, where he volunteers. Then he contacted the Shiloh Museum for help with identifying the people and places in the films. Below is a list of 170 actors (with married names, if known) and the town in which they were filmed. Also included are images of the folks in the movie whom we have positively identified or feel fairly certain of their identification. But our work is not done. We need help in identifying more children and getting in touch with them or their descendants. If you can help, please contact Marie Demeroukas, photo archivist, by email or by calling 479-750-8165.

You can watch the Northwest Arkansas films on our YouTube channel, as well as videos from the movie "premiere" we hosted in November 2017:

YouTube videos
Kidnappers Foil: The Bentonville version

Kidnappers Foil: The Fayetteville version

Kidnappers Foil: The Springdale version

Remarks by Shiloh Museum photo archivist Marie Demeroukas

Remarks by Library of Congress volunteer Todd Terpening

Interviews with some of the child actors

Closing remarks and credits

Sing-along with Earlene Brown (now Earlene Henry)

Sing-along with Martha Martin (now Martha Westberg)

Allen Dan Charles Fayetteville
Ames Jack Springdale  
Ash [Segraves Dunegan] Rhea Fayetteville
Atkinson [Poirer] Mildred Springdale
Atkinson Wilbur Dean Springdale
Aumick [Howarth] Annabelle Fayetteville
Aumick Roberta Lee Fayetteville  
Austin [Terry] Betty Bentonville  
Austin [Funk] Earlene Bentonville  
Baker Donny Bay Fayetteville
Baker Jack Fayetteville  
Barton Martha Lee Fayetteville
Barton [Neilson] Mary Ann Fayetteville  
Bautts Nancy Bentonville
Baxter Laura Hill Fayetteville
Bayless John Howard Fayetteville  
Bean Wanda Fayetteville  
Beasley [Raggio] Emma Ruth Bentonville
Begley [Lockwood] Mary Ann Springdale
Bird Larry Fayetteville
Bone [Hargis] Patty Springdale  
Boone [Cram] Wanda Springdale
Bradshaw [McNutt] Ellen Frances Fayetteville  
Bradshaw [Noel] Vivian Fayetteville  
Brandford Harriett Bentonville
Browne Hugh Fayetteville
Brewer I. W. Jr. Fayetteville  
Brogdon [Curry] Madelyn Springdale  
Brooks Edward Fayetteville  
Brown [Henry] Earlene Springdale
Brown [later Braun] Mary Springdale
Burt Dorothy Fayetteville  
Buttery [Martin] June Fayetteville  
Campbell [McMurtrey Presley] Jeanine Fayetteville
Campbell William Morris Fayetteville  
Carlisle [Zembsch] Jo Ellen Fayetteville
Chaney Alma Fayetteville  
Charlesworth Russell Springdale
Coleman [Younkin] Catherine Fayetteville
Coleman [Wilson] Donna Fayetteville
Compton Billy Fayetteville
Comstock Ira Allen Fayetteville  
Cone Edward Wise Fayetteville  
Craig Jimmy Bentonville  
Curtis Betty Sue Springdale
Curtis Marguerite Springdale  
Davidson Burl E. Fayetteville
Davidson [Taylor] Wilma Jean Fayetteville  
DeLauis Frank Bentonville  
Dellinger Martha Ellen Fayetteville
Downer A. D. Fayetteville  
Eads Bobby Fayetteville  
Ediston Dorine Fayetteville  
Emanuel Tommy Bentonville  
Ericson [Newberry] Doris Mae Bentonville  
Fichtner Clifton Fayetteville
Fletcher Harry Portis Fayetteville
Furlow Eugene Fayetteville  
Gartside [Jackson] Ann Bentonville  
Gary [Ruschmeyer] Stella Maris Fayetteville  
Grace Mary Bryce Fayetteville  
Green Alene Fayetteville  
Harris Robert Fayetteville  
Haxton [Gorum Scoggins] Dorothy Louise Bentonville
Haxton [Hawkins] Helen Ruth Bentonville
Hazlett Clyde Allen Fayetteville  
Heagler Arthur Springdale
Heagler [McMillan] Jane Springdale
Heerwagen [Wood] Betty Sue Springdale
Henman Jo (Joseph) Bentonville  
Holder Jim Bentonville
Hooper [Plonsky] Mary Margaret Fayetteville  
Horton Barbara Jean Bentonville  
Hotz Hartman Fayetteville
Hough Albert Springdale
Howell [Woods] Dorothy (Dottie) Bentonville  
Hunt Bob Fayetteville  
Huntington Bobby Fayetteville  
Huntington Forrest Kay Fayetteville
Hurst [Tow] George Anna Fayetteville
Jackson Edwin Bentonville
Jackson Craig Bentonville
Jackson [Spruell?] Doris Jane Fayetteville  
Jackson Frank Fayetteville  
Jacobson Janice Fayetteville  
Johnson Betty Sue Springdale
Johnson Glen David Springdale  
Jones [Halsell] Bettie Jo Bentonville  
Kik [Taylor] Catherina Fayetteville  
Knight [Baker] Alyce Jane Bentonville
Land [Stephens or Stevens] Earlene Fayetteville
Lansford [McGaha] Christine Fayetteville
Lemons Kyle Eugene Fayetteville  
Lucas [Gregory?] Wanda Sue Springdale  
Luckett Link Springdale
Luke [Dowden] Margaret R. Fayetteville
Luther Treva Mae Fayetteville  
Madison Cleo Bentonville
Madison Naomi Jean Bentonville
Martin [Hileman Westberg] Martha Bentonville
Mashburn James "Jim" Fayetteville
Mashburn William Fayetteville
May [Norton Waddell] Connee Bentonville
Mayer Glenn Fayetteville  
McCray [Hunt] Billie Jean Fayetteville  
McCray [Briggs] Gloria Mae Fayetteville  
McDaniel [Horchen?] Dorothy Mae Bentonville  
Metcalf Billy Springdale
Mills Dorothy Springdale  
Mills Ellis Fayetteville  
Mills Glenn Fayetteville  
Mincher Johnny Springdale
Mincher [Wooten] Monette Springdale
Morse Bob Fayetteville  
Morse [Reid] Carmen Fayetteville  
Murphy Billy Fayetteville  
Overton Howard Springdale  
Overton Maxine Springdale  
Parrish [Woods] Barbara


Parrott [Gray] Gwyn Springdale  
Pearson Tommy Fayetteville
Peterson Anna Jean Fayetteville  
Pettigrew [Waterman] Martha Jim Fayetteville
Phillips Gayle Marie Fayetteville  
Pickens Daniel Bentonville
Pinks? (Pickens?) Dorothy Bentonville
Poole Faye Fayetteville
Porter [Chesser?] Billy Fayetteville  
Pratt Cedric Glenn Fayetteville  
Pyeatt Phillip Fayetteville
Rich [Armstrong] Betty Sue Fayetteville  
Riddle James Bentonville
Riggs [Brown] Millie Lou Springdale
Roberts Danny Fayetteville  
Roberts Joe Allen Fayetteville
Roberts [McChristian] Monte Mae Fayetteville  
Rothman [Reith] Dora Bernadine [aka Bernadean] Fayetteville
Schwartz Lucretia Ann Fayetteville  
Scoggins [Capps] Betty Dean Fayetteville
Shafer [Coleman?] Freddie Jean Fayetteville  
Sisco Kenneth Springdale  
Smith [Shook] Ada Lee Fayetteville
Sonneman Bill Fayetteville
Stansbury Raymond Troy Fayetteville
Steele Bill E. Fayetteville
Steele Pat Fayetteville
Sturdivant Junior Springdale
Sullins [Bolain] Annabelle Fayetteville
Swain Yvonne Fayetteville  
Sweetser Billy Fayetteville  
Thompson Clifford Leroy
"Half Pint"
Trail [Exall] Gloria Olga Fayetteville
Troutman Charlene Fayetteville  
Trowbridge [Jones] Geraldine Springdale  
Tyson Don Springdale
Vinson [Graco] Roma Jean Bentonville
Walters Espen Springdale
Walters [Patton] Margaret Springdale  
Warren Lawanna Fayetteville  
Welch Lucille Fayetteville
Wester [Hope] Barbara Louis Fayetteville
Wheeler [Weiche] Barbara Lee Fayetteville
White Billy Bentonville
White Jimmie Bentonville
Williams Le Roy Springdale  
Wilson Margaret Fayetteville  
Wobbe [Goodart] Margaret Ruth Springdale
Wobbe [Johnson] Mary Lou Springdale


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