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Kermit Maynard

Full name:
Kermit Roosevelt Maynard

Nicknames: 'Kerm', 'Kern'

1897 - 1971

Kermit Maynard was the younger brother of Ken Maynard, and the brothers were born in Vevay, Indiana - Ken in 1895 and Kermit in 1897. In addition to sons Kenneth and Kermit, William H. Maynard and Emma May (nee Stewart) Maynard had three daughters - Trixie, Willa and Bessie.

The growin' up years for Ken and Kerm were in Columbus, Indiana which is about 65 miles northwest of Vevay, Indiana.

Kerm attended Indiana University and lettered in baseball, football, and basketball, but did not finish and receive a degree. 1920 Indiana University yearbook photos of baseball, football, and basketball player Kermit Maynard shown below.

(Courtesy of Ernie Andres, Executive Secretary of the Indiana University Men's Association)

He married his wife Edith on February 23, 1924 in Minneapolis, where he was working for Hormel (meat packing company).  In the late 1920s, brother Ken was starring in westerns for First National, and he would occasionally write to Kerm and Edith espousing the wonders of sunny California and the possibility of work for for them in the movie business.  Around 1926, Kerm and Edith headed west to California.

Having developed his hoss ridin' skills as a child, Kermit got some bit parts and minor roles and honed his skills.  Toward the end of the silent era, he signed with W. Ray Johnston and Rayart film company and starred in a series of "Rayart Whirlwind Westerns" which included RIDIN' LUCK, PRINCE OF THE PLAINS and WILDBORN.  During those silents, Kerm was billed as "Tex" Maynard (to differentiate him from brother Ken at First National).  And during those early days in Tinseltown, Kerm spent day-after-day learning and practicing trick riding skills at the Fat Jones stables.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above is a lobby card from the silent PRINCE OF THE PLAINS (Rayart, 1927), one of Kerm's "Rayart Whirlwind Westerns" in which he was billed as Tex Maynard. Kerm is on the left.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - a napping Kermit 'Tex' Maynard about to get crowned in another lobby card from PRINCE OF THE PLAINS (Rayart, 1927).

When talkies arrived, Kerm began doing stuntwork and doubled for many of the cowboy stars of the early 1930s (such as Tom Tyler and George O'Brien).  He even doubled brother Ken in his 1930s work at Tiffany, KBS WorldWide and Universal.  Edith was busy also, and she ultimately became the head of the Fox script department.

Producer Maurice Conn founded little Ambassador Pictures with offices at the California Talisman studio on Sunset Boulevard.  Conn was an independent producer who churned out quickie action films, and during the mid to late 1930s, had youngster Frankie Darro starring in some features (and Le Roy Mason and Kane Richmond were Frankie's helpers). Conn dreamed of new series of Canadian Mounted Police yarns based loosely on the writings of James Oliver Curwood, a prominent author whose stories were the basis for many cinema adventures.

Aware of Kerm's horsemanship talents as well as his tall and lean physique, Conn approached the younger Maynard with a proposal and a contract ... and a near three year association began.  The collaboration resulted in eighteen films - ten mountie flicks followed by eight traditional B western programmers.

John W. English got some early experience by directing three of Kerm's Ambassador films, RED BLOOD OF COURAGE (Ambassador/Conn, 1935), HIS FIGHTING BLOOD (Ambassador/Conn, 1935), and WHISTLING BULLETS (Ambassador/Conn, 1937). A few years later, John (Jack) English, along with director Bill Witney, became the directing duo that would co-create many great Republic cliffhangers (such as CAPTAIN MARVEL, ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION, and the two Lone Ranger serials).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - the title lobby card from WILD HORSE ROUND-UP (Ambassador / Conn, 1936).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - the title lobby card from WHISTLING BULLETS (Ambassador / Conn, 1937).

(From Old Corral collection)

In the above lobby card from WHISTLING BULLETS (Ambassador / Conn, 1937), Kermit and leading lady Harlene Wood check out the prone Jack Ingram. During the 1930s, Harlene/Harley Wood worked in about a half dozen westerns, and after a name change to Jill Martin, was the heroine in the HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS serial. There's more about her in the Heroines/Leading Ladies section on the Old Corral.

(Pressbook cover courtesy of Les Adams)
(Pressbook cover courtesy of Les Adams)

The WILD HORSE ROUNDUP pressbook cover above includes a photo of young Dickie Jones (inset, lower left) who, in later life, became Dick Jones of TV's RANGE RIDER and BUFFALO BILL, JR.  Betty Lloyd (inset, lower right) is Beth Marion.

By the late 1930s, independent producers like Maurice Conn and his Ambassador Pictures were having difficulty as the market for inexpensive, independently produced westerns was drying up. Republic Pictures had been formed and was churning out a good product and even Paramount had become serious about westerns with their new Hopalong Cassidy series. Circa late 1937 - early 1938, Conn filed for bankruptcy and wound up taking his production setup to Monogram where he produced oaters starring Jack Randall and Tim McCoy. Kerm's starring career was over.

Maynard was proud of his Ambassador films, but quickly moved into supporting roles in serials and westerns ... and that work continued for years. During the early to mid 1940s, it seemed like he was in just about every western that was churned out by PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation).

The Maynards settled in the San Fernando Valley, and son Bill (William) was born in 1943. In later life, Kerm became a representative for the Screen Extras Guild (which was later merged into SAG, the Screen Actors Guild), and he retired from that job in 1969. Edith recalled that it was a real change when Kerm took the position with the Guild - he was working an unaccustomed 8 to 5 job and wearing a white shirt and tie. And Edith no longer had to remain home to answer the phone when studios and casting offices would call with film assignments for Kerm. Edith also mentioned that Kerm neither smoked nor drank, and he did not have a weight problem like brother Ken. Kerm consumed bottle after bottle of soda pop and loved ice cream and Wheaties. He also was a prolific (and near par) golfer.

Kermit Maynard passed away from a heart attack at his North Hollywood, California home on January 16, 1971. Wife Edith passed away in 1989.

You'll also find a webpage titled 'Prolific Performers' on the Old Corral, and near the top of that list is Kermit Maynard with over 300 sound film appearances. Of that number, 262 are westerns and 22 are serials. Kerm's Republic film credits number only about two dozen appearances during the period from 1938 - 1951.

I did an extensive, multi-issue article on Kermit Maynard for Favorite Westerns magazine many years ago, and spent considerable time visiting and chatting with Kerm's wife Edith. I also interviewed Buster Crabbe, since he and Kerm were good friends and worked together in a lot of films. In 1981, Mr. Crabbe was living in the Scottsdale, Arizona area. I asked him if he could jot down some thoughts which I could use as an ending/closing quote for my article.  The worn and faded note reads:

(From Old Corral collection)

The note reads:
Chuck - The difference between Ken and Kermit was comparing night and day. Kermit always the gentleman, excellent horseman and a real pleasure to work with. Never an unkind word for anyone and above all my friend.
Buster Crabbe

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Buster Crabbe and longtime friend Kermit Maynard in a scene from PRAIRIE RUSTLERS (PRC, 1945), one of the films in Crabbe's long running 'Billy the Kid/Billy Carson' series at Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). This was one of several dual role oaters for Crabbe and in the above still, he's portraying Billy Carson's no-good cousin "Jim Slade".

(Courtesy of Edith Maynard)
Kermit Maynard, relaxing in the backyard of his California home, and dressed in cowboy clothes ... except for the tennis shoes.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Kermit Maynard:

You can view or download Kermit's CODE OF THE MOUNTED from the Internet Archive. This one has some great footage of Kermit doing roman riding, more:

The Family Search website, California Death Index, and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) provide more info on Kermit Maynard and family:

  • 1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - 36 year old William Maynard (born Kentucky; occupation "carpenter"), 23 year old wife May E. (born Illinois), 4 year old son Kenneth (born Indiana) and 3 year old son Maynard Maynard (born Indiana) were renting in Jefferson Township (west portion excl. Vevay city), Switzerland County, Indiana. Kermit was listed as "Maynard Maynard", an obvious error by the census taker:
  • 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - 48 year old father W. H. Maynard (born Kentucky; occupation carpenter), his 33 year old wife May (born Illinois), three daughters (9 year old Bessie, 6 year old Trixy and 5 year old Wilda), and 14 year old sons Kenneth and 12 year old Kermit (incorrectly spelled Kernith) were living in Columbus, Bartholomew County, Indiana. All five children were born in Indiana. Daughter Wilda's correct name is Willa:
  • World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 - Kermit Roosevelt Maynard reported his birth date as September 20, 1897; was living in E. Columbus, Indiana with his parents; and was a "fuel station laborer" for the Pennsylvania Co.:
  • 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - Ken and Kermit were no longer living with their parents in Indiana. 58 year old William H. Maynard (born Kentucky; occupation "carpenter"), his 42 year old wife May (born Illinois), 20 year old daughter Bessie (born Indiana), 16 year old Trixy (born Kentucky), and 14 year old Willie (born Indiana) were renting in Columbus, Bartholomew County, Indiana:
  • 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 32 year old Kermit Maynard (born Indiana) and 26 year old wife Edith (born Denmark) were renting at Unit #539, 1377 North Wilton Place, Los Angeles. His occupation was "Actor - Motion Pictures", and he answered Yes and World War I to the are you a military veteran question:
  • 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 42 year old Kermit Maynard (born Indiana) and 36 year old wife Edith (born Denmark) were renting at 12718 Riverside Drive in Los Angeles and they lived in the Los Angeles area in 1935. Kerm's occupation was "Actor - Motion Picture Production". (Living within a block or two of the Maynards were actor/writer Ned Glass and wife as well as Billy Gilbert and wife Ella. Ella's maiden name was McKenzie and she's the sister of Republic heroine Fay McKenzie):
  • California Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records for Kermit R. Maynard, born September 20, 1897 in Indiana, and he passed away January 16, 1971 in the Los Angeles area:

Find A Grave website has photos of the grave markers for Kermit Maynard and wife Edith who are interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California:

Newspaper death and funeral notices on Kermit Maynard - these will open in a separate window / tab:
January 20, 1971 Los Angeles Times:
January 20, 1971 Columbus, Indiana Republic - page 1:
January 20, 1971 Columbus, Indiana Republic - page 2:

The Historic Columbus Indiana website has a 1916 Columbus High School yearbook showing Senior Kermit Maynard - and the info printed next to the photo shows his nickname as "Kern" (with an N not an M):

Dave Smith had a website on 'Hoosiers' (Maynard and other actors and actresses born in Indiana), but the site was not working as of June, 2021:
The Internet Archive "Wayback Machine" has saved versions of this website:*/

There's more on Ken, Kermit and the Maynard family at the Switzerland County INGenWeb:

The website for the Switzerland County Visitors Center in Vevay, Indiana is:

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