Alex Nicol worked on the stage from the age of 19. Then in 1949, he enrolled at the Actors Studio where he picked up some intense training and subsequently, his first film, The Sleeping City, in 1950.
Nicol was outstanding at playing a heroic good guy or a royal pain of a bad guy, especially in Westerns. Nicol was effective as the devoted sheriff and brother to Ronald Reagan and Russell Johnson in Law and Order (1953). Two years later, Nicol gave an immortal performance as Dave Waggoman, the oversized “mama’s boy” in The Man from Laramie. In addition to his eternal whining, pouting and other childlike misbehavior, he’s the guy who maliciously roped and dragged Jimmy Stewart through a fire, burned his wagons, shot his mules, and shot him point blank… in the hand! And who could forget that particularly red afro Nicol bore in the film? Looking like a giant-sized Johnny Whitaker, it wouldn’t be surprising that Nicol’s hairdo was an inspiration for Robert Reed and the rest of the Brady men two decades later.
Other Westerns with Nicol include Tomahawk [a.k.a. The Battle of Powder River (1951)], The Lone Hand and The Redhead from Wyoming (1953), and Great Day in the Morning (1956).