Sunday, July 4, 2010


Today, as we salute Independence Day with fireworks and barbecues, the Round-up would like to give a special show of gratitude to the folks involved in western movies who did their part to keep us free.

Tom Mix was an artillery sergeant in the Philippine campaign from 1898-1901. Ken Maynard fought with Gen. Pershing against Pancho Villa, and served in the First World War. Hoot Gibson was an Army Sergeant in the Tank Corps during World War One. With the outbreak of World War One, Tim McCoy organized a regiment of cavalry, and was commissioned Captain of Cavalry, later transferred to the Horse Artillery, was a Colonel by age thirty, and was appointed Adjutant General of Wyoming. He also served in the Second World War, and again achieved the rank of Colonel. Buck Jones enlisted in the Army in his teens, served first on the U.S. – Mexico border, then in the Moro uprising in the Philippines. Buck reenlisted in World War One, training horses for the Allies. During World War II, Buck took part in a cross-country series of Bond Rallies. He died with hundreds of others when a fire tore through Boston’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub.

The two most highly decorated American soldiers of the Second World War both went on to acting careers: Audie Murphy and Charles Durning. Not far behind in honors was Neville Brand, who won the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and three Battle Stars among many other decorations. One of the Hollywood cowboys who did not return from the war was Lee Powell, U.S.M.C., the screen’s first Lone Ranger, who was killed in action on Tinian, Marianas Islands.

Among the many western actors who served in the Navy during World War II were Richard Boone, Ernest Borgnine, Charlton Heston, Earl Holliman, Kirk Douglas, Strother Martin, Robert Montgomery, Jack Lemmon, Wayne Morris, Rock Hudson, Paul Newman, GUNSMOKE’s Dennis Weaver, and GUNSMOKE on radio’s Matt and Doc, William Conrad and Howard McNear. Harry Carey Jr. was a Navy Medical Corpsman in the Pacific. Henry Fonda won the Navy Bronze Star for Valor, Jason Robards Jr. was a radioman on duty in Pearl Harbor when Japan attacked, and Glenn Ford served in World War II, Korea and Vietman, retiring as Captain in the Naval Reserve. Humphrey Bogart, who was injured in World War One, tried to enlist in World War Two, but was turned down because of his age.

Those who served in the Army included John Agar, Charles Bronson, George Kennedy, Eli Wallach, James Coburn, and Gene Evans. Burt Lancaster was in the Army Special Services, and James Arness was wounded at Anzio. Mel Brooks (we’re counting BLAZING SADDLES as a western), a combat engineer, cleared German mines after the Battle of the Bulge. Gene Autry was an Army Flight Officer in the Air Transport Command. Those in the Army Air Corps included Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Jack Palance, Ronald Reagan, Lee J. Cobb, Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin, Tim Holt, Arthur Kennedy, Alan Ladd, Ray Milland, Cameron Mitchell, George Montgomery, Clayton Moore, Robert Preston, George Reeves and Robert Taylor.

Among those who served in the Coast Guard were Alan Hale Jr., Buddy Ebsen, Cesar Romero, Jim Davis and Victor Mature.

And in the Marine Corps were Brian Keith, Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Tyrone Power, John Russell, Robert Ryan, Sterling Hayden and Jock Mahoney.

And because actors don’t make movies by themselves, Director John Ford commanded the photography group of the OSS and was present when the troops landed on Normandy. Ford left the Navy as a Rear Admiral. Director Howard Hawks was a Lieutenant in the Signal Corps during the First World War before joining the Army Air Corps and serving in France. Directors George Roy Hill and Sam Peckinpah were Marines. Directors William Wyler, John Sturges and Don Taylor served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, as did producers Jack Warner and Daryl F. Zanuck. Producer Saul David served in the Army. And Yakima Canutt, stunt man extraordinaire, was in the Navy during World War I.

I’m sure I missed a hundred people who should be mentioned. If you know of any omissions, please leave a comment so I can update! And have a great 4th of July!


Abigail Spencer joins the cast of Jon Favreau’s production of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, the sci-fi western based on the comic book – okay, graphic novel – created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The lovely Ms. Spencer is best known for her role as ‘Miss Farrell’ on MAD MEN, a character described as ‘Don Draper’s mistress.’ Since every female character on the show can be described that way, I am including a picture (see above), so you can say, ‘Oh, that Don Draper mistress.’ Her character in Cowboys is described as ‘a prostitute (remember when they used to be saloon girls?) who romances Daniel Craig’s character.’

Along with Spencer and Craig, the cast includes Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine, Adam Beach and Buck Taylor. And if you, like I, have muttered, “Oh swell, another sci-fi western,” you will be happy to know that the filmmakers have no intention of following the footsteps of JONAH HEX into oblivion. Co screen-writers Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, taking a break from the Santa Fe location, gave an interview on the REELZ CHANNEL. They were ready to sign up when they heard the title, Orci recalled. “I heard the title COWBOYS AND ALIENS, and to me, it was like chocolate and peanut butter: I should have thought of that!” And Kurtzman adds that, “COWBOYS AND ALIENS is not a tongue-in-cheek movie. I think the key is for us to take it seriously. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s not ‘yuk-yuk.’ It’s embracing everything we love about the western genre, and everything we love about sci-fi, and finding a way to mash them together.”



How long has it been since you saw Randolph Scott on the big screen? You can, this Saturday, July 10th, at the Autry's Wells Fargo Theatre. It's part of The Imagined West Film Series, and is preceeded by the film that started it (westerns) all, Edwin S. Porter's THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (1903). The show is at 2:00 p.m. And although membership or admission usually gets you in, for some reason it'll cost $5 for members and $9 for non-members. Regular readers of the Round-up may remember that in the April 17th entry, at an event celebrating the issuing of the Cowboys of the Silver Screen stamps, Autry CEO John L. Gray annnounced that, starting in mid-June, The Autry would present a western film festival, commencing with a Roy Rogers picture. June has come and gone, no Roy, no Gene. On August 14th we will get UNDER WESTERN SKIES, which launched Roy's career. The only Autry pictures expected to run this summer are TV episodes during July 24th's NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY event. THE HARVEY GIRLS is running on Saturday, July 31st. Kinda slim pickings for western fans. Yet opening on August 17th is a show, HOW THE WEST WAS WORN...BY MICHAEL JACKSON. Yes, that Michael Jackson. I don't understand some people's priorities.


What a treat for all of you that live East but love West! From June 25th through July 15th, the Forum will be presenting 26 movies – most in double features and a few in triple bills! -- directed by the great Anthony Mann, whose post-war westerns brought a new-found maturity to the form, and gave James Stewart a chance to stretch as an actor as never before. In addition to the westerns being shown, Mann's fine crime and war stories will also be on view. Among the westerns: July 4th and 5th; CIMARRON (1960) on Monday July 5th, THE FURIES (1950) and THE TIN STAR (1957) on Tuesday July 6th; THE FAR COUNTRY (1955) and THE TALL TARGET (1951) on Friday and Saturday, July 9th and 10th. To whet your appetite -- and this is for everyone, not just New Yorkers - CLICK HERE to see trailers of several of the Anthony Mann westerns.



Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. Currently they have HOMELANDS: HOW WOMEN MADE THE WEST through August 22nd, and THE ART OF NATIVE AMERICAN BASKETRY: A LIVING TRADITION, through November 7th. I've seen the basketry show three times, and am continually astonished at the beauty and variety of the work of the various tribes. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.


Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.


This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.



Starting Thursday night, July 1st, AMC will run a marathon of John Wayne pictures which, with the exception of a few infomercials and Three Stooges Shorts, will run through Sunday night, Independence Day. The films will be hosted by the husband and wife team of Ty Murray and Jewel. He is the champion bull-rider who did so well on DANCING WITH THE STARS this season. She's the very attractive and talented singer/songwriter whose impressive acting debut was in the excellent Civil War film RIDE WITH THE DEVIL (1999). The movies, most of which will be seen more than once, and begin at 12:30 Friday morning with THE WAR WAGON, include THE COMANCHEROS, HONDO, RIO BRAVO, THE HORSE SOLDIERS, THE WINGS OF EAGLES, OPERATION PACIFIC, THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS, MCLINTOCK!, CAHILL, U.S. MARSHAL, NORTH TO ALASKA, CHISUM, THE COWBOYS and THE SHOOTIST. Check your cable of satellite system for the proper times -- and have a great 4th!


Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.


Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run THE LONE RANGER at 1:30 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

I’ll have info on new casting in COWBOYS AND ALIENS on Monday.



All contents copyright July 2010 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved


  1. Western writers who served would make an interesting list.

  2. ....I believe James Garner served in Korea during the Korean War.