Rex Beach was well on his way to becoming a lawyer. Born in Atwood, Michigan in 1877, the young man went to school, studied, and set his sights on the field of law. He attended Rollins College, Chicago College of Law, and Kent College of Law.
Then something happened that changed the course of his life forever. Gold was discovered in the Klondike, and Beach was clobbered with Gold Rush Fever. He left school and set out for the Klondike to strike it rich. Although he searched the North Country for five years, he never found the gold he was looking for. Instead, his travels stirred his imagination, and he began to write.
Beach quickly became a popular author, writing tales of adventure set in the wilds of Alaska. He wrote of huge, untamed, wild lands filled with risk and danger. He championed the courage and bravery of those who lived and died on the Alaskan frontier. He sold his stories to magazines and periodicals, spanning 40 years and publishing numerous articles, short stories, and more than 30 novels.
The stories Beach wrote were immensely popular with a public that was fascinated with the rough-and-tough sagas of the Gold Rush, and several of his works became bestsellers in the early 1900's. ‘The Barrier’ and ‘The Silver Horde’ made the best seller lists in 1908 and 1909, respectively.
His novel ‘The Spoilers’ was quite successful at capturing the excitement of the Gold Rush, complete with claim-jumping, corruption, deception, villains, and heroes. It made the 1906 best sellers’ list and was first made into a movie in 1914 featuring many of the popular actors and actresses of the day. Remade another five times, the most famous remake was in 1942, starring Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne.
In 1948, he sold the film rights to his last novel, ‘Woman in Ambush’ (published posthumously) for $100,000, the highest price paid by Hollywood producers up to that time for an unpublished manuscript.
Proving himself not only as an author, but also as an occasional actor, producer, playwright, and adventurer, Beach never did become a lawyer. He continued to write until his death in 1949 in Sebring, Florida.