(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is the title lobby card from Starrett's BULLETS FOR RUSTLERS (1940). L-to-R behind the rock are Bob Nolan, Lorna Gray (Adrian Booth) and Jack Rockwell.
(From Old Corral image collection)
Audiences were always assured of hard fighting, fast riding thrills in a Durango Kid. Ted Mapes had been Starrett's double for sometime but when Jacques O'Mahoney (later Jack Mahoney and then Jock Mahoney on TV's RANGE RIDER) replaced Mapes, the stunts and action became even more furious. "I certainly had the best stuntmen", Starrett smiled, "Jocko was just beautiful. Like a cat." At a western film festival, Jocko recalled, "Columbia left the stunts up to me. I'd walk around the western street or location and find interesting things to do and then they'd write them into the script. We'd usually get the action stuff out of the way and then Charlie would come in for the behind the Durango Kid mask talking scenes and the Steve scenes. Charlie would jokingly say that I let him do the dialogue scenes."
With the encroachment of TV in the early '50s and escalating film budgets, Columbia shut down production on the Durango Kid series in 1952. When he retired, Charlie was a wealthy man, being heir to the Starrett Tool Company fortune and having invested his Durango Kid earnings wisely.
Starrett once recalled, in the late '50s or early '60s a New York TV station was going to telecast some of the Durango films and asked him to do a wraparound intro for a Saturday series. He said he would do them but they had to be done on the West coast. The deal didn't work out so the Durango Kid features failed to make it to the medium that gave new life to Bob Steele, Buster Crabbe, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson and many other former screen cowboys. Diehard film and video collectors still relish the Durango Kid films, but many are still locked away in Columbia studio vaults these many years later, with only a few recently being aired on the Movie Channel and then the Western Channel.
Many actors regret being typecast in a role like the Durango Kid but Charles Starrett wasn't one of them. "How could I regret playing Durango? It was a long run for me, a source of income. It did well for me."
After being lauded at several western film festivals, Charles Starrett definitely knew the love and respect we, as children, had for him on the screen and for the thrills and adventures he brought us as well as the sense of right and wrong.
The Durango Kid died March 23, 1986.
The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars. In most cases, the winners were what you would expect --- Autry, Rogers, Holt, Hoppy ... and Charles Starrett. Starrett consistently placed in one or both polls from 1937-1952, with the exception of the year 1943.
|Popularity Rankings of Charles Starrett|
Starrett's highest rating shown in this color
|Year||Motion Picture Herald
You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page and check the California Death Records database. You should find a record for Charles Robert Starrett, birthdate and location of 3/28/1904 and Massachusetts, Mother's maiden name was Hoehn, passed away on 3/23/1986. You should also find a record on the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) - note that it shows Starrett's birthdate as 3/28/1903.
(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)
Above, a big smile and hello from Charles Starrett.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above, Charles Starrett at one of the 1980s film conventions.
(Courtesy of Pat LaRosa)
Above from left to right are George Chesebro, Chick Hannan, Charles Starrett and a very old looking Bob Kortman in a lobby card from GUNNING FOR VENGEANCE (Columbia, 1946), one of the Starrett/Durango Kid entries.
(From Old Corral image collection)
There were multiple Durango Kids in TRAIL OF THE RUSTLERS (Columbia, 1950). On the far left is Gail Davis, better known as TV's ANNIE OAKLEY. Next to Gail Davis is Gene Roth (Gene Stutenroth) and sidekick Smiley Burnette is sitting at the desk. Charles Starrett has his sixgun leveled on the second Durango Kid (played by Don Harvey). The two players on the right with backs to the camera are Myra McKinney and Myron Healey.
(Courtesy of Bill McCann)
|CHARLES STARRETT / DURANGO KID COMICS|
There are photos and info on Charles Starrett's horses, both Raider and Bullet, in the Trusty Steeds section on the Old Corral. And in the Stuntmen and Women section, there's a profile and photos on Ted Mapes and Jock Mahoney.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Charles Starrett: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0823633/
Tim Kirk has a blog entitled "Charles Starrett - One Fan's Journey" and he's working on reviews for all of Starrett's films. Included are many stills and lobby cards. Go to: http://stevesomething.wordpress.com/
Bill Black of AC Comics has a profile on Charles Starrett: http://www.accomics.com/category/westernarticles/
There's a photo of a young Charles Starrett in a Will Rogers film at Walt's Wyoming(Film) Web site: http://www.theastrocowboy.com/Mlist/skitch.htm
Learn more about the L. S. Starrett Tool Company of Athol, Massachusettes: http://www.starrett.com/about/company-profile
Charles Starrett was one of many Hollywood performers who were involved in the formation of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in the early 1930s: http://www.sag.org/history/