(Courtesy of Les Adams)
|Monte "Alamo" Rawlins|
Real name: Dean Calvin Spencer
1907 - 1988
(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)
Above are the 'Roving Buckaroos' --- from L-to-R are Sonny Lamont, Larry Mason (Art Davis) and Monte Rawlins wearin' the cape in their one trio adventure, THE ADVENTURES OF THE MASKED PHANTOM (Equity, 1939). Davis had done his singing and fiddlin' routine with Gene Autry, Bill Elliott, Jack Luden and Tim McCoy. And in the early 1940s, he teamed up with Lee 'Lone Ranger' Powell and Bill 'Cowboy Rambler' Boyd in the weak Frontier Marshal trio series that was churned out by Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). Crop / blowup below of their faces.
There were several who made unsuccessful attempts at becoming cowboy movie heroes during the second half of the 1930s. Sandwiched between Ken Maynard and Bill Elliott, Columbia Pictures tried Bob Allen in a half-dozen and then did four with Jack Luden. TRIGGER PALS (Grand National, 1939) was to be a new trio series featuring big band singer/bandleader Art Jarrett, Lee 'Lone Ranger' Powell and Al St. John, but only the initial film was lensed. And radio singin' cowboy Tex Fletcher, wearing his six-shooter on his left hip and strummin' a guitar from the southpaw side also, was to do a series, but SIX-GUN RHYTHM (Grand National, 1939) wound up being a solo shot.
Monte Rawlins was another actor who had a brief fling at B-western stardom. Below are a couple newspaper and trade blurbs on Dean Spencer, AKA Rawlins:
Boyd Magers provided the following on Dean Spencer / Monte Rawlins:
He was born Dean Calvin Spencer in Yakima, Washington on 2/21/07. In the early 1930s, he was a barnstormer with an aerial circus. On the basis of that he got into some stuntwork in aerial flight films. In addition to his one starring role (ADVENTURES OF THE MASKED PHANTOM), he also appeared briefly under his real name in two Jack Randall films. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in WWII. After the war, he stayed in the Reserves and was called into active duty during the Korean conflict, where he was a parachute rigger. Later, he worked at Los Alamitos Naval Air Station where, as a master sergeant, he was in charge of the parachute loft. Between the war years, he gave up acting and went into sound recording --- mostly at Monogram. He later worked in the same capacity with the Disney studio. He retired from Disney and the Marine Reserves, and moved to Hawaii. He died at Tripler Hospital (Honolulu) on July 13, 1988.
A bit of a mystery - was there another Dean Spencer? A full page advertisement for Western Electric's '300' sound recording system ran in many 1948 trade publications. Link to that ad is below. The ad featured a large photo of Dean Spencer, sound recordist, working in Alaska on the film HARPOON (Screen Guild, 1948). Take a gander at the image in the ad versus photos of Monte Rawlins / Dean Spencer. Same guy ... or different guy?
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Monte Rawlins: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0712650/
You can view or download THE ADVENTURES OF THE MASKED PHANTOM (Equity, 1939) on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1ipzQQkrak
The Internet Archive has many trade publications with that full page ad for Western Electric's '300' sound recording system and photo of Dean Spencer, recordist, working in Alaska on the film HARPOON (Screen Guild, 1948). Here's the ad in the September 25, 1948 Boxoffice magazine. Compare this Dean Spencer with Monte Rawlins / Dean Spencer, and this link will open in separate window / tab: http://archive.org/details/boxofficejulsep153unse/page/n1730/mode/1up?view=theater
Family Search, newspaper death notice, and other sources have more on Dean Calvin Spencer:
(Pressbook ad courtesy of Les Adams)
(Pressbook ad courtesy of Les Adams)
Les Adams adds some comments and facts:|
My semi-educated guess: this picture was intended for Grand National as producer B. F. 'Bennie' Zeidman had spent the last 2-3 years producing films for Grand National release. But the production came right in the midst of the Grand National collapse. Known: so it was hand-peddled to the various Indie exchanges across the country --- Times, Marcy, Astor et al --- and a couple of the Monogram exchanges also handled it.
In addition to appearing in those Jack Randall westerns, Rawlins also had a role (as 'Hanson', the movie-set sound man) in STUNT PILOT, the second of the four 'Tailspin Tommy' films that Trem Carr and Paul Malvern made for Monogram in 1939.
The Ken Maynard ad cuts for PHANTOM RANCHER (Colony, 1940) shows producers Max and Arthur Alexander didn't go out of their way to buy new artwork when something "perfectly usable" was handy. (See pressbook ads on the left.)
I just watched it again recently to see if it was as bad as I remembered --- actually worse than recalled --- and I may be the only one who thinks so, but I swear some of the outdoor riding scenes appear to me to have been lifted straight out of some of the 1933 circa Tom Mix films at Universal, made about the time B. F. Zeidman was at Universal. This leads me to believe ol' Bennie went home with some prints and made use of some cuts in this film. I don't think it was accident that Rawlins was costumed like Mix. Plus, he does bear a slight resemblence to Mix.
The single worse performance by an actress in a B-western was Dot Karroll as 'Grandma Mary Barton' in THE ADVENTURES OF THE MASKED PHANTOM. The single worse performance by an actor in a B-western was by Jimmy Aubrey as 'Ptomaine Pete' in 1935's THE PHANTOM COWBOY which starred Ted Wells. The single most shuddering vision I can imagine would be to see Dot Karroll and Jimmy Aubrey on-screen playing those same characters in the same movie.
Leading lady Betty Burgess is kind of interesting in a semi-obscure fashion --- she was second-billed in Paramount's CORONADO (1935), slipped instantly into Invincible's I DEMAND PAYMENT (1935) opposite Matty Kemp, and wasn't heard of again until four years later in THE ADVENTURES OF THE MASKED PHANTOM, again with Matty Kemp as her sweetheart. I have no reason to think so, but I wonder if perhaps she and Kemp met and got married circa I DEMAND PAYMENT and she retired from the screen. A career that swung from Paramount down to Invincible in the same year is treading shakey ground at best. When an actress only makes three films, and the last two are four years apart and playing opposite the same actor, I have to figure they were at least "good" friends.
(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)
Above - Dot Karroll - as 'Grandma Mary Barton' - hands Monte his double-action six-shooters in another still from THE ADVENTURES OF THE MASKED PHANTOM.