Larry Imber remembers:
THE LAST YEARS OF CHARLES STARRETT
When I left the service in 1946, I headed for California. I had studied film editing at New York University (NYU), and thought I could make it in LA as an editor. I was very naive. I had no idea about unions or guilds so I ended up as a grip, the lowest job, and non union. I was a 'go-fer', and I did. My company commander in Europe had worked at Columbia Pictures and I was able to get a job, using his name. I ran errands, cleaned up after the Three Stooges, and everyone else, and occasionally went to the Columbia Ranch in Burbank as part of the cleanup crew. With mostly westerns being shot, you can imagine what we cleaned up. I met Dick Curtis,Ted Mapes, Edmond Cobb, Dick Farnsworth and other western charactor actors. I was in heaven! I hated to leave at the end of the day. I got a glimpse here and there of Starrett but never met him ... he was a star.
We now segue to 1981. A friend of mine mentioned me to him. Charlie was now retired in Laguna Beach. It was a small home overlooking the Pacific, and was usually a getaway, but now had become his home. Mary Starrett, his wife, encouraged visitors. By then, Charlie was almost blind and his travelling days were over. I remember the door knocker with DURANGO on it, a gift from a fan.
We hit it off right away, and the next several years were great. Even though I was not a Starrett fan, he was such a regular guy that he instantly won you over. Even my wife, who never cared for cowboy actors, fell in love with him. I told him that I went back to New York after a nothing period in Hollywood, and worked at the home office. I made some extra money viewing his westerns and giving them titles. I was usually the only one in the audience when they ran his B westerns, and that I had no competition. He remembered that they only had production numbers when they were shooting, and he was embarrased when fans asked him about a particular film.
Though he came to Hollywood to be a star, he ended up in westerns, and finally found he enjoyed them ... and had no regrets. He was part of a group of outdoor actors who travelled to Warner Springs, east of Palm Springs, to hunt. (John Hart lives in Warner Springs today.) Glenn Ford, Joel McCrea and others were part of the 'gang'. Years later, he spent winters in nearby Borrego Springs. He loved the crew he worked with. He especially remembered Ted Mapes who was his long time double. He even had nice things to say about Smiley Burnette.
(Courtesy of Larry Imber)
Above, greetings and a wave from Charles Starrett and his wife Mary. Below, Starrett, his wife Mary and Larry Imber is on the right. Photos taken March, 1984 at Borrego Springs.
(Courtesy of Larry Imber)