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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


An American Indian actor, Alvin Burke Deer was born on January 9, 1942, at the Kiowa Indian Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma, to George Weidlen Deer, Jr., also an actor, and Fern Lena Bosin. Alvin Deer is Muscogee (Creek) and Kiowa, and his American Indian name is Red Oak. He had one twin brother, Melvin Blake Deer, also an actor, and two sisters, Mary Helen and Melinda. Alvin Deer spent his youth in the Los Angeles (California) area and attended local schools through high school. He enrolled in junior college at Los Angeles City College and later received a bachelor's degree from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and a theology degree from Southern Methodist University in Texas.

At a young age in California Alvin Deer performed Native dances at entertainment centers like Disneyland. He was an "extra" in Hollywood Westerns during their heyday. He also appeared in numerous movies, including Crisis (1950, Cary Grant), Annie Get Your Gun (1950, Betty Hutton), Seminole (1953, Rock Hudson), Miss Sadie Thompson (1953, Rita Hayworth), Red Garters (credited, 1954, Rosemary Clooney), The Egyptian (credited, 1954, Victor Mature), The FBI Story (1959, James Stewart), It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963, Milton Berle), and A Man Called Horse (1970, Richard Harris). Much of his work is uncredited.

Deer also worked in the fields of banking and accounting and later entered the Methodist ministry, becoming an advocate and advisor to other American Indians. He has served on a number of boards of directors, including the Kiowa Tribal Administrative and Election Board as well as the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic Board. He married twice, first to Margie Edmonds with whom he had four children, and then to Laura Bohannon, with whom he had one child. He has lived primarily in Los Angeles, California, and in the early twentieth century he resided in Oklahoma.

Richenda Davis Bates


"Alvin Deer," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Hugh W. Foley, Jr., "From Bliss to Barking Water: The Transition of Oklahoma's American Indians in Cinema History," in Oklahoma @ the Movies, comp. Larry O'Dell (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2012).

Bill Tharp, "Better Than Pitting Apricots," Oklahoma Journal (Oklahoma City), 11 January 1974.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Richenda Davis Bates, “Deer, Alvin Burke,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=DE020.

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