Tag Archives: Alabama


{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Pruneface was the character in the 1990 movie “Dick Tracy” which was played by a veteran actor named Robert Golden (R.G.) Armstrong, Jr., who had Roane County roots. After his parents, Robert Golden & Ermyne (Robbins) Armstong, Sr., were married here in 1915, they removed to Birmingham, Alabama where R.G. Jr. was born in 1917. He went to college in North Carolina and became friends with Andy Griffith. He guest starred in almost all of the Western series in the 1950s and 1960s including Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Big Valley, and Maverick among others. Besides appearing in Dick Tracy, he also appeared in two other Warren Beaty films, “Reds” and “Heaven Can Wait.” He appeared with James Earl Jones in “The Great White Hope” and with Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Predator” among the over 30 movies that he appeared in. Shortly before his death he came to East Tennessee and made an appearance on the Marshal Andy Show on the Knoxville PBS station.

Robert Golden Armstrong, Jr.

R.G. Armstrong as Pruneface

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, April 2015.

Chief Hailstorm

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

Jarrette Talmadge Van Noy “Chief Hailstorm” was born Dec 21, 1891, in Rockwood, Roane County, to Henderson and Sarah (Edmondson) Van Noy. He married Sep 24, 1921, in Zurich, Switzerland, Maria Emma Alvine Tewes (born Oct 15, 1899, in Wincheringen, District of Palzen, Prussia). It is not known when he assumed the name of “Chief Hailstorm”. On the marriage record, he states that his occupation was “Artist, Cherokee Indian Chief of Rockwood.” The only problem with this was that there was no Cherokee Tribe in Rockwood at this time. The Cherokee Indians that had lived in Roane County were first removed to Alabama and then were removed to Arkansas and Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. He started out with Buffalo Bill and was in movies with Tom Mix in 1914 and 1915. His most well-known part was in a western movie called “The New Medicine Man.” In passport applications in the 1920s to Japan and European Countries, he listed that he performed theatrical work. His niece, Billie Van Noy Olinger of Rockwood, taught at Campbell High School, the only black high school in Roane County. “Chief Hailstorm” died in 1976 and was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, October 2014.