Buck Jones: 1891 – 1942
One of the greatest of the B-Western stars. Although born in Indiana, Jones grew up on a ranch near Red Rock in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), and there learned the riding and shooting skills that would stand him in good stead as a hero of Westerns. He joined the army as a teenager and served on US-Mexican border before seeing service in the Moro uprising in the Philippines. Though wounded, he recuperated and reenlisted, hoping to become a pilot. He was not accepted for pilot training and left the army in 1913. He took a menial job with the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show and soon became champion bronco buster for the show. He moved on to the Julia Allen Show, but with the beginning of the First World War, Jones took work training horses for the Allied armies. After the war, he and his wife, 'Odelle Osborne', whom he had met in the Miller Brothers show, toured with the Ringling Brothers circus, then settled in Hollywood, where Jones got work in a number of Westerns starring Tom Mix and Franklyn Farnum. William Fox put Jones under contract and promoted him as a new Western star. He used the name Charles Jones at first, then Charles 'Buck' Jones, before settling on his permanent stage name. He quickly climbed to the upper ranks of Western stardom, playing a more dignified, less gaudy hero than Tom Mix, if not as austere as William S. Hart. With his famed horse Silver, Jones was one of the most successful and popular actors in the genre, and at one point he was receiving more fan mail than any actor in the world. At the outbreak of World War II, Jones reentered the army and was sent on a bond-selling tour. On November 28, 1942, he was a guest of local citizens in Boston at the famed Coconut Grove nightclub. Fire broke out and nearly five hundred people died in one of the worst fire disasters on record. Jones was horribly burned and died two days later before his wife Dell could arrive to comfort him. Although legend has it that he died returning to the blaze to rescue others (a story probably originated by producer Trem Carr for whatever reason), the actual evidence indicates that he was trapped with all the others and succumbed as most did, trying to escape. He remains, however, a hero to thousands who followed his film adventures.
1. Gordon of Ghost City (1933) - Buck Jones - A Universal Studio 12 Chapter Movie Serial
A cowboy (Buck Jones) is hired to track down a gang of rustlers, but gets involved with a beautiful girl trying to run her grandfather's gold mine and other outlaws who are trying to stop her.
As the roving range detective, battling rustlers with a ghost town hideout, Buck Jones is ideally cast in the first of his four serials for Universal. Madge Bellamy is the feisty heroine and former silent serial stars, William Desmond and Walter Miller, provide excellent support as the crusty rancher and his sneaky foreman.
2. Riders of Death Valley (1941) 15 Chapter Universal Serial - Buck Jones and Dick Foran [Movie Serial]
The plot has Jim Benton (Dick Foran) as the head of a vigilante group, known as the Riders of Death Valley, organized to protect the miners from the take-over plots hatched by Joseph Kirby (James Blaine) and Rance Davis (Monte Blue.) They hire Wolf Reade (Charles Bickford) and his motley crew to do their dirty work, and spend most of their time lamenting their choice of sub-contractee as Reade deals his employees as much misery as he does the "Riders" and miners. Benton's "Riders" are Tombstone (Buck Jones), Pancho (Leo Carrillo), Smokey (Noah Beery, Jr, who is a no-show in most episodes), Borax Bill (Big Boy Williams) and Tex (Glenn Strange.)
Based on the story "The Redhead from Sun Dog" by W. C. Tuttle. It is a remake of the 1931 John Wayne movie “Range Feud“.
"Red" Davison (Buck Jones), the sheriff of Sun Dog, sacrifices his job and his good name to save his best friend, "Silent" Slade from the hangman's noose, following a framed-up court decision which sentences Slade to hang for the murder of "Scotty McKee (J.P. McGowan). Davidson allows Slade to escape from jail and follows him to aid him in proving his innocence.
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Summoned by his friend, Ranny Williams (Frank Rice), Sim Baldwin (Buck Jones), rides to the aid of Circle O Ranch owner Ruth Cameron (Marguerite De La Motte), who is under pressure to sell out to Dan Blake (Albert J. Smith), who wants control of a dam on the ranch that is central to the town water supply.
This was Buck Jones second talking movie. The studio was Gail Pictures.
Ranchers Walton and Turner are losing cattle to rustlers and they each blame the other. After Walton and Clint Turner (John Wayne) argue, Walton is found shot and Sheriff Buck Gordon (Buck Jones) has to arrest his friend Clint. With Clint scheduled to be hung, Sheriff Gordon desperately looks for evidence to clear him.
This is John Wayne's first big Western since his disastrous debut as a leading man in the Big Trail (1930).
When Shag Smith kills Jim's brother Bob, Jim Houston (Buck Jones) and Thunder quit the rangers so they can cross the border and join Smith's gang. Jim's plan is to get the gang to cross back over the border where the rangers will be waiting.
Buck Roberts (Buck Jones) is leading a wagon train of railroad supplies and Jim Corkle and his henchman Loder are out to stop them by using white men dressed as Indians for the attacks.
Buck Jones was killed in the Coconut Grove fire shortly before this film was released.
6. Arizona Bound (1941) - Buck Jones and Tim McCoy (Rough Riders) - Retired marshal Buck Roberts (Buck Jones) has left law enforcement and is enjoying life on his northern Arizona ranch when he receives a telegram from Marshal Bat Madison (Jay Wilsey) requesting his aid in stopping a rash of stagecoach robberies near villain invested Mesa City, and off he goes as a fast-paced Rough Riders (Jones, Tim McCoy, Raymond Hatton) adventure begins.
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