Ken Maynard: 1895- 1973
Studio publicity incorrectly puts his birthplace at Mission, Texas. Ken was a trick rider with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and later with Ringling Brothers and was also a champion rodeo rider.
His movie debut, The Man Who Won (1923), was the first of many for this early cowboy B movie superstar. He was famous for the stunts he could enact with his horse Tarzan. Maynard was the first singing cowboy in the movies. During the 1930s, he dropped out of movies and went back to rodeo work. He did a few more low-budget films in the early 1940s, and then retired for good except for bit parts.
His last years were miserable; poor and unremembered, he lived alone in a trailer, an alcoholic who at his death was a victim of serious malnutrition.
Mystery Mountain - Ken Maynard - 12 Chapter Mascot Movie Serial (1934)
Ken Williams (Ken Maynard) is determined to discover the identity of the mysterious Rattler, who preys upon railroads and transportation companies like that owned by Jane Corwin. Ken Maynard works for Chief Railroad Engineer Frank Blayden (Edward Earle). The Rattler is especially difficult to catch because of his skill at disguising himself as other people.
Mystery Mountain was a remake of Mascot's own The Hurricane Express (1932). Ken Maynard was doubled by his brother Kermit Maynard. The physical similarities between the two makes it difficult to spot the difference on screen between actor and stuntman. Maynard's horse, Tarzan, had three doubles.
NOTE: Take a close look at two of Chief Railroad Engineer Frank Blayden (Edward Earle)
wagon drivers, who first appear near the end of Chapter Six and pop up at other points throughout the serial. They are Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette, freshly arrived in Hollywood and earning extra money from Mascot producer Nat Levine, who was using them concurrently in the Ken Maynard Mascot B-Western IN OLD SANTA FE (see movie below). Smiley only has a few lines, but Gene’s role is slightly more notable; he is the wagon driver who shoots Maynard for the Chapter Six cliffhanger, mistakenly thinking him a bad guy.
Marshals Blackie (Ken Maynard) and Joe, posing as two-gun men, hire on at Markham's (Lucille Powers) ranch. They are after Tulliver and his gang of rustlers. But unknown to the two, Tulliver has planted Thorn (Charles King) on the ranch and he kills the foreman Riggs and puts the blame on Blackie
A ruthless desperado kidnaps 'Whistlin' Dan Savage’s
(Ken Maynard) pal & demands $5000 by sundown or the pal will be executed. Maynard gets the money but doesn't make it by sundown; his pal is murdered. Maynard swears vengeance on the killer.
Heading west, Ken Maynard and Bouncer end up at the Brooks ranch where Ken is to ride Tarzan in the big race. But both the Sheriff and Edmonds are after him and he must hide both himself and the horse until race time.
After Sheriff Ken Maynard puts money in the safe, his brother Clem gives Rawhide the combination. With the money gone the disgruntled townsmen make Boots Sheriff and lock up Ken. Clem, now a prisoner of Rawhide, has a change of heart and sends Ken a message with the outlaw's location. Ken escapes by impersonating the saloon entertainer and rides for the hangout.
A cowboy called The Thunderbolt Kid (Ken Maynard) comes to the aid of a town that is being threatened by outlaws who don't want a railroad to go through the town.
Traveling thru TombstoneCanyon, Ken Maynard is aided by the mysterious Phantom when a gang attacks him. He later finds the man that was going to tell him of his true identity murdered. Alf Sykes was the murderer and when the Phantom kills one of his men he blaims Ken. Planning to hang Ken, Sykes lets him out of his cell and then shoots the Sheriff. But Ken escapes and with everyone after him heads for TombstoneCanyon where both his identity and the Phantom's will be revealed.
7. In Old Santa Fe (1934) - Ken Maynard and Gabby Hayes (with Gene Autry & Smiley Burnette’s first screen appearance) Big city gangsters arrive at the dude ranch and trouble begins for ranch hand Kentucky (Ken Maynard). He loses his horse Tarzan in a rigged horse race and gets framed for murder. The movie features the first screen appearance of Gene Autry, singing a song with a bluegrass band that includes Smiley Burnette. Although both Autry and Burnette were unbilled, the scene served as a screen test for the duo for a long series of subsequent singing cowboy films, beginning with The Phantom Empire, which had originally been slated for Maynard.
NOTE: The opening credits of this re-release shows Gene Autry as the star of this picture. This is false. Ken Maynard was the star of this picture.
12. Branded Men (1931) - Ken Maynard - When Rod Whitiker (Ken Maynard), Ramrod, and Half-A-Rod ride into Steep Gulch, they immediately become Sheriffs. The previous Sheriffs have been killed by Mace and his gang who don't wait long before they make an attempt on the new trio.
13. The Pocatello Kid (1931) - Ken Maynard - Ken Bledsoe/The Pocatello Kid (Ken Maynard) escapes from prison while serving time for a crime committed by his twin brother, Jim Bledsoe. He heads for his brother's town to clear himself. Jim is now the sheriff and the tool of a gang of rustlers led by Pete Larkin. Sheriff Bledsoe provides a front for the outlaw's raids, and is also engaged to marry Pete's sister Mary, who is blissfully unaware of what goes on around her. Jim, hearing of Pocatello's escape, wants to leave the country but Larkin refuses to lose his "legal" protection and forces him to stay. But he loses it anyway when the gang catches the sheriff cheating at poker, and shoot him. Larkin only has a minute or so to worry about this unexpected turn of events as Pocatello comes riding up the road and knocks on the door. Larkin smoothly explains the situation and tells the wanted Pocatello he will provide sanctuary if Pocatello will pose as his departed-and-un-mourned brother. [Added]
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