(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
The inscription reads:
Lucky trails to you
John 'Dusty' King
|John 'Dusty' King|
(Pressbook ad courtesy of Les Adams)
Range Busters member John 'Dusty' King. He was in the first twenty of the twenty-four films in the series.
(From Old Corral collection)
Radio station KAWT in Douglas, Arizona went on the air in late 1946, and King was a multi-tasker from about 1947 - 1951, serving as station manager, program director, announcer, farm editor, more. Above organization chart with "Dusty King" is from a 1951 Radio and Television Annual available at the Internet Archive. Org charts in earlier issues had him listed as plain ol' "John King".
The April 13, 1951 Arizona Republic newspaper reported on King's departure from KAWT: "J. Hugh Gann has been named manager of radio station KAWT, succeeding John (Dusty) King."
Then King winds up starring in THE GENTLEMAN FROM ARIZONA (Monogram, 1939), a Cinecolor offering from Monogram Pictures that premiered at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix, Arizona on December 7, 1939.
In 1939, King and Joan Marsh starred in BLAME IT ON LOVE (Wilding, 1940), an infomercial from Hotpoint appliances and their advertising agency, Maxon Inc. It was filmed at the Hal Roach studios by the Wilding Picture Productions company which churned out industrial and educational films. The deal between Hotpoint, their local dealers and small town theaters was to pay small fees to the theaters to show the film on weekday mornings or early afternoons when they were normally closed. Audiences were given free tickets. And the theater would show their normal coming attractions and the entrance would have Hotpoint appliances on display and for sale. (More details on this sales campaign further down this webpage.)
In early, 1940, King found a new home when Monogram Pictures signed him to a term player contract ... and immediately put him to work. The February 27, 1940 Motion Picture Daily reported that "John King and Marjorie Reynolds top the cast of 'Midnight Limited', Monogram."
He connects with producer George W. Weeks on a new series of westerns which was announced in the June 1, 1940 Boxoffice magazine: "First of the 'Range Busters' westerns which George Weeks will produce for release through Monogram has been charted to go before the camera June 17 (1940) with Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune and John King in the leads."
Released in late August, 1940, the first adventure was aptly titled THE RANGE BUSTERS (Monogram, 1940). The film opens with Corrigan, King and Terhune galloping down a dusty back lot road with the Busters' theme song, "Home on the Range", playing over the opening credits courtesy of veteran music director Frank Sanucci.
1940 was also busy with marriage plans. A May, 1940 party at the Los Angeles Country Club celebrated the engagement of John McLeod King and Hermine McCormick. The couple tied the knot on October 5, 1940 in Tucson, Arizona and producer Weeks was King's best man. Hermine's parents were members of Los Angeles society and the engagement and marriage of their daughter was well covered in Los Angeles Times society columns. Hermine's father was Allen L. McCormick, the President of the Cinecolor company.
Today, most fans recall the Range Busters as a lower budget, lesser quality copy of Republic's successful Three Mesquiteers. Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune were familiar with triple hero westerns as both had been members of the Mesquiteers. Due to the popularity of singing cowboys, King's role as Range Buster 'Dusty' was to occasionally warble a tune. Some criticize his screen persona as being too bland, not very dynamic. King certainly wasn't equal to the charismatic and volatile Bob Livingston who portrayed 'Stony Brooke' in the Mesquiteers.
Several cast changes occurred during the twenty-four film life span of the Busters. Corrigan exited for a while because of a salary spat and was replaced by stuntman / actor Dave Sharpe (and King was bumped up to the series lead). Then Sharpe and King departed for World War II service. The final four starred Corrigan, Dennis 'Denny' Moore, and Terhune. King appeared in the first twenty. Max Terhune was the only member to appear in all twenty-four.
To promote the series, King made public appearances at theaters, and he and his Busters co-stars participated in War Bond drives. And in 1942, "John (Dusty) King and his Range Busters" recorded four songs for RCA's Bluebird label. Bluebird B-8952 had "Deep in the Heart of Texas" / "I Promise to Be True While I'm Away" and Bluebird B-9038 had "Someday You'll Know You Did Wrong" / "I Hung My Head And Cried". Musicians on the recordings were Rufus Cline (bass), Jesse Ashlock (fiddle), Rudy Sooter (guitar), and Fred Tony Travers (accordian).
Miller MacLeod Everson enlisted in the Army Air Corps on November 9, 1942, served three+ years, and was stationed at the Douglas, Arizona Army Airfield. Douglas was an advanced flying school for bomber pilots and over 5,000 troops were there. Newspapers and other sources indicate he was a Tech Sergeant in Special Services. That group included people from stage, music, radio, and movies and their job was to entertain the troops, enhance morale, do War Bond drives and camp shows, coordinate USO visits to the base, more. One of his ongoing jobs was hosting, announcing, and singing on a Saturday radio show called "The Twin Engine Parade". (See ad for Dusty King and a War Bond Drive further down this webpage.)
Discharged in December, 1945, movie makers didn't greet King with much enthusiam and only one minor film job came his way - the September 18, 1946 issue of Variety noted that "John King, recently released by the Army, draws his first postwar acting job in 'Renegade Girl', which William Berke will produce for Screen Guild release." (That film was about Quantrill's Raiders, starred Alan Curtis and Ann Savage, and King had a featured role.)
In 1946 - early 1947, he returned to his radio roots as an announcer, singer, and commercial pitchman for CBS in Los Angeles. While there, he hosted some "Hollywood Barn Dance" CBS radio shows which originated from station KNX in Los Angeles.
His radio time was brief and he and Hermine returned to Douglas, Arizona where King became manager of new radio station KAWT (see organization chart on the right). The May 12, 1947 issue of Broadcasting magazine had an announcement: "John King ... with CBS Hollywood, has been named general manager of KAWT Douglas, Ariz., new 250-w station on 1450 kc."
Cindy Hayostek is a Douglas, Arizona historian and provided more on King and family in Arizona:
Daughter Anne was born in Douglas, Arizona in 1950. In a 1980s interview with researcher Joe Collura, King mentioned that Anne suffered from a severe hay fever allergy and her health issues were the impetus for their move to California. And King had glowing remarks about his long and close friendship with Max Terhune whom he considered "cream of the crop" and a great person. He wasn't very talkative about Ray Corrigan.
The family moved to La Jolla, San Diego County, California in 1956. And for twenty+ years, King owned and operated "John's Waffle Shop" in La Jolla. Pal Larry Imber met King at his restaurant: "John King spent his last years running a waffle shop in San Diego. Very sweet guy, and enjoyed visiting with him."
The November 21, 1987 Los Angeles Times had a section highlighting San Diego ... and there's a two-page writeup with photos of John's Waffle Shop on Girard Avenue in La Jolla. It opened in 1953 as "Gene's Waffle Shop" and John (Dusty) King purchased it in 1954 and changed the name to "John's Waffle Shop". King sold the restaurant in 1980. There were comments about the busy restaurant's mix of everyday customers and Hollywood celebs - "maintenance workers ... teachers ... hard hats ... can mingle with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor or Johnny Carson ..."
That 1954 purchase date is suspect. John Brooker visited with King in 1967 and 1970 and was told that he bought the waffle shop circa Christmas, 1959.
Wife Hermine passed November 25, 1981 and John King died on November 11, 1987. Did not find obituaries or funeral notices on either at Newspapers.com or the Newspaper Archive websites. However, a family tree noted that both were interred at El Camino Memorial Park, San Diego, California. Sent an e-mail to El Camino Memorial Park and got a quick reply: "John and Hermine are placed in the Alcove of Rest section of our park RSN: 449."
John King's movie career spanned from the mid 1930s through 1946 and amounted to about fifty films, twenty of which were Monogram's Range Busters.
I've mentioned this before, and will do it again here. I've always separated the singing cowboys into two groups. There were several that had a country/western/downhome singin' style, and Autry, Ritter, Rogers, Eddie Dean and Jimmy Wakely are among that bunch. The others had voices which just didn't fit the B western, and among those were Dick Foran, Fred Scott, Jack Randall, George Houston ... and John King.
While he never achieved greater stardom in westerns or other films, many fans fondly remember John King from the Busters ... and belting out "Give Me a Ship and a Song" as serial hero "Ace Drummond".
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
John King, 1977
John King and daughter Anne, 1970. Western researcher and author John Brooker visited King in 1967 and 1970.
(Courtesy of John Brooker)
(Courtesy of Douglas Historical Society, Douglas, Arizona)
The above photo was used in the 1950 Douglas, Arizona City Directory and other Chamber of Commerce publicity. Left to right are:
Hermine King's brother Allen L. 'Bud' McCormick, co-owner/operator of Em-Bar-Bee Guest Ranch, Elfrida, Arizona. The guest ranch was east of Elfrida, which is about 25 miles north of Douglas.
Barbara Reynolds, Douglas, Arizona, was daughter of John and Maurine Reynolds; John was trainmaster for Southern Pacific Railroad in Douglas.
Elsa McCormick, mother of Bud and Hermine, and co-owner of the Em-Bar-Bee Guest Ranch, Elfrida, Arizona.
Hermine (McCormick) King, wife of John 'Dusty' King.
Note the Em-Bar-Bee Guest Ranch station wagon. It is in front of the Douglas Port of Entry building where people returning from shopping trips to Agua Prieta, Sonora, went through U.S. Customs.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on John King: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0454878/
La Jolla Light website has an article about Felix Tobias, the chef at John's Waffle Shop. It mentions King buying it in 1954 and selling in 1980. And there's a color photo of the front of the restaurant which closed for good in 2000: https://www.lajollalight.com/lifestyle/sd-cm-ljl-waffle-20180919-htmlstory.html
YouTube and the Internet Archive have some Range Busters and other John King films to view or download:
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/moviesandfilms?and%5B%5D=%22john+king%22&sin=
The Internet Archive has two RCA Bluebird 78 rpm records of John Dusty King and his Range Busters from 1942 - "I Hung My Head And Cried" and "Someday You'll Know You Did Wrong" https://archive.org/details/georgeblood?and%5B%5D=john+dusty+king&sin=
YouTube has King and his Range Busters singing "Deep In The Heart of Texas", another 1942 Bluebird recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmuIM_wLoj0
J. David Goldin's RadioGoldIndex website has King hosting nine "The Hollywood Barn Dance" radio shows in late 1946 - early 1947: http://www.radiogoldindex.com/cgi-local/p4.cgi?ArtistName=King,%20John%20Dusty&ArtistNumber=28103
Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has a review of King and the 1936 ACE DRUMMOND cliffhanger: https://filesofjerryblake.com/2013/04/01/ace-drummond/
Douglas, Arizona Historical Society: https://douglasazhistoricalsociety.com/
Info on the Douglas, Arizona Army Airfield: https://www.skytamer.com/6.1/AZ/Douglas.html
Family Search (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Index, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), Newspapers.com (subscription), Newspaper Archive (subscription), and the Library of Congress have info on John King and family.
Several things to note in the information below. There are two variations of his birth date - May 11, 1909 vs. July 11, 1909. His middle name appears to be MacLeod / Mac Leod (on his 1940 marriage license and WW2 draft registration). In his later years, he became "John McLeod King". Hermine Q. McCormick was his wife. There's various records as well as 1940 engagement and wedding announcements, photos, etc. in the Los Angeles Times newspaper which confirm her name as Hermine (not Hermione).
More on King's wife, Hermine Q. McCormick:
Find A Grave confirms that King and wife Hermine are interred at El Camino Memorial Park, San Diego, California: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/225980854/john-macleod-king
|Some biographies (including the Internet Movie Database) identify a "Nancy Louise King" as John King's daughter.|
There is a baby in Range Busters number two, TRAILING DOUBLE TROUBLE (Monogram, 1940) which was released in mid October, 1940. Name misspellings were fairly common and she was billed as "Nancy Louis King" in the opening credits (on the left).
No confirmation of her being King's daughter in interviews, pressbooks, trade publications, newspapers, etc.
Not sure where this story got started. Guessing that someone authored a John King bio years ago and assumed she was his daughter based on her surname in the cast listing.
Author and researcher John Brooker visited King in 1967 and 1970 and provided the photo of his daughter Anne which is shown at the top of this webpage.
Above - trade publication ad for THE GENTLEMAN FROM ARIZONA (Monogram, 1939), a horse racing yarn filmed in Cinecolor in Arizona. It premiered at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix, Arizona in December, 1939.
Couple of possible King family tie-ins with this movie - his future wife Hermine McCormick attended the University of Arizona in Tucson. And Hermine's father was Allen L. McCormick, the President of the Cinecolor company. Wonder if King and Hermine met during the 1939 film shoot.
Business Screen magazine catered to commercial, industrial, and educational films and film makers. The above issue from 1940 has details on the Hotpoint appliance sales campaign which had John King and Joan Marsh starring in BLAME IT ON LOVE (Wilding, 1940). The magazine cover photo is a production still from the film shoot, and King is in the back of the crowd and wearing a suit. BLAME was lensed in late 1939 at the Hal Roach studio and released in 1940.
If you're interested in the magazine and articles, the Internet Archive has a copy to view and search at the link below. Enter 'Blame It on Love' in the search box in the upper right to locate articles. And using the scroll function, the cover is on pages 108-109. This will open in a new window / tab: https://archive.org/details/1939busines1940sscreenmavol2chicrich/page/108/mode/2up
The BLAME IT ON LOVE (Wilding, 1940) film from Hotpoint is available on YouTube and the print came from the Library of Congress. Running time is about 47 minutes and the image quality is quite good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctq7GBX8JUU
(From Old Corral collection)
Above are the original Monogram Range Busters trio - left to right are John 'Dusty' King, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan and Max 'Alibi' Terhune. This team appeared in the initial sixteen Range Busters films which were released in 1940 - 1942.
(From Old Corral collection)
In the above title lobby card from ARIZONA STAGECOACH (Monogram, 1942), John King has his arm around pretty Nell O'Day. To western fans, Nell is best remembered for the batch of 1940 - 1942 Universal oaters she made with Johnny Mack Brown. In the lower left are Corrigan, and Terhune has his hands on Steve Clark.
(From Old Corral collection)
Left to right are King, Dave Sharpe and Max Terhune (with Elmer). When Ray Corrigan briefly exited the series, stuntman Dave Sharpe came in and did four films in the series which were released in 1942 - 1943. In these four, King was promoted to lead hero and got first billing. He also upgraded his uniform to a different hat and a plainer shirt ... and rode a white horse. Then King and Sharpe departed for World War II military service.
September, 1943 issues of the Tucson, Arizona Daily Star had news of the upcoming "$2,000,000 Bond Spectacle" at the Fox Theater in Tucson. Performing at the event was "... Douglas Air Base ... splendid 18-piece orchestra ... full of men who played for name bands for years before entering the service ..." and "Sgt. Dusty King, star of many western pictures, will be master of ceremonies for the Douglas unit and will also entertain by singing some of the latest hits including 'Pistol Packing Mama'."
"The Twin Engine Parade" was the title of the Saturday radio show hosted by Tech Sergeant John 'Dusty' King.