TAC Table of Contents
Robert Shayne: A Tribute to a Fine Actor
By Colete Morlock and Thom Hamilton
The idea for this feature you are about to read started with a phone conversation I had with Colete Morlock in mid-June 2010. During the conversation, Colete asked if there was anything she could do for TAC. Even though numerous write-ups have been done on Robert Shayne, for some reason he immediately came to mind. I wondered if there might be enough of what we don't know about our favorite police inspector to match the colossal effort she did with John Doucette: A Fine Character Actor.
I have the privilege to present Robert Shayne: A Tribute to a Fine Actor by team writers / researchers Colete Morlock and Thom Hamilton. Of course, throughout the years we've come to learn a good deal about Robert Shayne's life and career thanks to the early TAC magazine years and more recently with other Web features as noted below.
Ms. Morlock and Mr. Hamilton did an excellent job gathering and assembling this feature. They of course enlisted the help of Stephanie Shayne, who as many of us know is the daughter of Robert and Bette Shayne. What I personally enjoy about this feature is our team presented just the right questions to Ms. Shayne, many which I found to be unique and creative. The responses were far greater than we could have ever anticipated. We thank Stephanie for bringing to this feature the many wonderful insights into her father's life and career. She did so in a fashion only an actor with experience could describe about another actor. So for your interest, Jim Nolt's The Adventures Continue presents,...
Robert Shayne: A Tribute to a Fine Actor
THE FAMILY TREE
He was born Robert Shaen Dawe on October 4, 1900 in Yonkers, NY in Westchester county. His father, George Grosvenor Dawe was born in England on the Isle of Wight and came from a family of merchants. Young George continued the legacy as a very shrewd businessman, quite the organizer, and possessed a sense of global politics. He became one of the founders for the U.S. Department of Commerce. His mother, Cynthia A Shaen was born in New York, the daughter of a Canadian father and Connecticut mother. Cynthia was a woman way ahead of her time. She was instrumental in establishing the Montessori teaching method to the D.C. school district. She was also an advocate of women's birth control and a suffragette. Robert considered both his parents to be extraordinary people.
EDUCATION AND EARLY JOB HISTORY
Upon graduation from high school in Washington, D.C., Mr. Shayne tried his hand at various jobs and occupations. He also obtained a degree in Business Administration from Boston University. According to his daughter, Stephanie, Dad traveled around a lot, stayed with family friends, [spent] at least a couple of summers in Indiana, [and] did work in ladies' retail advertising. Dad briefly worked on Wall St. [and] also briefly studied for the Unitarian ministry prior to becoming an actor. The Daily Planet was not the only newspaper connection in Mr. Shayne's life. One of his first jobs was on a newspaper. According to daughter, Stephanie, as any other reporter, he had his own portable typewriter: He used it when he was a cub reporter as well as during all his travels as an actor. (See photo gallery).
Bob Shayne's career in legitimate theater has not been given as much attention as his film and television work. As with many of his contemporaries, this became an important part of his training that served him well in later years. While living and working in New York, he landed the role of a policeman in the John P. Leister play, The Rap. In 1932 he appeared in a Broadway comedy written by radio dramatist, William Ford Manley entitled Wild Waves. Set in the studio and lobby of a radio station, his role was that of a control man.
One fellow actor familiar to the Adventures of Superman fans was Maurice Cass, best known as Professor Meldini in "The Defeat of Superman" and the owner of Ellie's Gift Shop in "Mystery of the Broken Statues". Next came the Bulls, Bears and Asses with only two performances however, the follow up, Both Your Houses, set in the office of the Chairman for the U.S. Appropriations Committee won the 1933 Pulitzer for its writer, Maxwell Anderson.
Sidney Howard's Yellow Jack was based on a book about the source of yellow fever (Paul de Kruif's Microbe Hunters). Described as "how one of the heroic epics of research science can be related with clarity, emotion and nobility in the theatre" (New York Times), Bob Shayne had dual roles of Harkness and Major Cartwright. The play included a young James Stewart, who later teamed up with George Montgomery, Virginia Bruce and Henry Hull in the 1938 film version of the same name.
Performed at the Playhouse Theatre, Order Please (1934) was an original comedy set in a room of the Hotel Diplomat in New York City. Shayne's character was Robert Kent along with co-star, William Hopper, best known as Paul Drake in the Perry Mason TV series. Melvyn Douglas staged and performed in Mother Lode, which had only nine performances (December 1934). Set in Virginia City, the plot centered on prospectors who struck gold and struggled to protect their claim, with a romantic interest for one of the partners. Besides Douglas, Robert Shayne, Beulah Bondi and Tex Ritter were among the cast members. And while the play was essentially a flop, two years later the same writers were tapped for the film version, Yellow Dust, with a completely new cast.
A highlight of Shayne's career was Ayn Rand's Night of January 16 as defense attorney, Stevens, representing a woman for the murder of "an infamous Swedish rogue" (New York Times, Sept. 19, 1935). His courtroom opponent was district attorney, Edmund Breese, known for his performances in Marx Brothers Duck Soup and Frank Capra's Platinum Blonde. Supporting cast members included Sarah Padden ("The Haunted Lighthouse"), and Walter Pidgeon. Rand incorporated a unique experience by using the audience as the jury members. She had alternative endings depending on the verdict. Because the evidence presented was so unbiased, the judgment reflected the jury's own sense of right and wrong. A film adaptation under the same name was made in 1941.
The Devil of Pei-Ling with its true-to-life crime, gore, and horror had only eleven performances. Only one performance for Timber House brought the curtain down the same night for good, followed by the short-lived, Don't Look Now. Mr. Shayne's roles were minor in each.
The big break came in 1938 with Whiteoaks, based on the 16 novel series by Mazo de la Roche. The series tells the one hundred year history of the Canadian Whiteoak family. The cast included Ethel Barrymore and Richard Carlson. Bob's character was described as "the rough, good-hearted Renny who carries most of the family burden on his shoulders and gets little thanks for it" (NY Times, Feb. 23, 1938).
There is an interesting story about this play that Stephanie told us: Throughout my life with Dad I heard him tell this story a thousand times at parties, at dinner gatherings, etc. He always told it the same way. It was one of his favorite theatrical anecdotes. Here's the story, verbatim, the way I always heard him tell it.
One night, during the run of 'Whiteoaks' with Ethel Barrymore, it was apparent to me during a scene together that she couldn't remember her words. I threw her a line to get her back on track. She recovered and I didn't think anything more of it. After the performance the stage manager came to my dressing room and said, 'The Old Lady wants to see you. Thinking she was going to thank me for throwing her a cue I went to her dressing room. When I entered she asked, 'Mr. Shayne, what was the meaning of that unseemly display on stage?' Surprised, I sort of stammered, 'Miss Barrymore, I, I thought you had dried." She turned to me with a baleful look and said, 'A Barrymore never dries'. With that she turned and continued removing her make-up. She never spoke to me again during the run of the production.
The play, Beverly Hills (1940) was notable for its director and co-producer, Otto Preminger. Actress and novelist Ilka Chase was cast along with Pedro de Cordova (film and TV producer/director known for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show), and William Talman (Hamilton Burger on Perry Mason).
In Claudia (1941), Dorothy McGuire was cast in the title role at the Booth Theatre. Shayne was not in the opening night cast, but came on board that same year as Claudia's husband and would continue off and on for a two year stint. Phyllis Thaxter, as her IMDb mentioned, was an understudy to Ms. McGuire. It also stated that Thaxter would eventually land the role on Broadway and toured with the company; however, McGuire was cast for the 1943 film version.
Five Alarm Waltz (1941) was panned by critics as "a generally tasteless comedy about a poetic Bulgarian blowhard who accepted the challenge of his wife, authoress of chic parlor comedies, to write a drama and wrote one that made hers look sick" (Time Magazine, Mar. 24, 1941). Bob portrayed Jerry Manning, while Elia Kazan's character was based on writer William Saroyan. It was so bad that the play closed after only four performances. For his next venture, Shayne appeared in The Land Is Bright (1941). The play, co-written by Edna Ferber (Show Boat, So Big, Giant) and George S. Kaufman (collaborative, My Sister Eileen, The Man Who Came to Dinner, You Can't Take It With You), had a successful run. Other cast members included Diana Barrymore, Hugh Marlowe (Patricia Neal's boyfriend in The Day the Earth Stood Still), and Dick Van Patten (Eight is Enough TV series).
Phillip Barry wrote Without Love (1942) with Katherine Hepburn as the headliner. Hepburn had previously starred in another Barry play, The Philadelphia Story, reprising her role for the 1940 film version. Mr. Shayne left the two year run in Claudia to join "the acting personnel in the role previously interpreted by Leonard Mudie ("Drums of Death", "A Ghost for Scotland Yard", "The Magic Necklace") who resigned" (NY Times, Mar. 9, 1942). While performing as character Peter Baillie, an agent spotted him, offered him a chance to go to Hollywood and the rest was history. Mary Spooner's tribute site to Bob Shayne noted that once he saw the sunny skies he said to himself, "Oh boy, this is for me" and California became his permanent home.
The one and two reel films, also known as the short subjects proved to be very important for movie studios. For an up and coming actor or production assistant, it was one way to make a film maker take notice. Unlike the longer feature films, they focused on more diverse material, and were produced on a smaller budget and time schedule hardly exceeding twenty minutes.
Robert Shayne's first film was December 1929 at the Warner Brothers Vitaphone Studio in Brooklyn. A New York comedy starring Bert Lahr entitled Faint Heart; this was an experimental two-reel talkie and was Lahr's first film as well. Educational Films Corporation of America also produced some of the short films. See Uncle Sol, Man to Man, and Off the Horses were all done in 1937. The latter paired Bob Shayne once more with Bert Lahr. Air Parade (1938) located in a radio station, combined comedy, music, and great sets.
It had been five years since his last movie short, and Youth Train for Aviation (1943) featured Mr. Shayne's distinctive voice rather than his face. Produced and sponsored by the National Aeronautics Association, the documentary's purpose was to utilize model airplane clubs to encourage interest in aviation. In that same year, Bob was the hero in Oklahoma Outlaws, the story of how Tulsa was founded after the 1893 land rush. Villain Warner Anderson (Lt. Ben Guthrie in The Lineup TV series) and Charles Middleton (better known as Emperor Ming from Flash Gordon) are also featured. A remake of the Bogey and Cagney Oklahoma Kid film, lots of stock footage was used and the original costumes were repurposed for Shayne and Anderson. As a child, U.S. Marshal, Frank Wilson (Shayne) witnessed his father's killing and had sworn to bring the killer (Charles Middleton) to justice. This is the plot of Wagon Wheels West (1943). Nina Foch made her film debut, although she would be remembered in horror films The Return of the Vampire and Cry of the Werewolf.
Gun to Gun was another hero role for Bob Shayne as was Roaring Guns, both from 1944. The former paired him with villain Harry Woods. Tom Tyler had a brief appearance as the Sheriff. Gun to Gun was a remake of an early talkie, The Lash, and considered "the least interesting of Shayne's so-called "Santa Fe Trail" vest pocket westerns." Trial by Trigger paired him once more with Warner Anderson in a logging camp with lots of stock footage being used. I Won't Play won the Academy Award for the Best 2-Reel Live Action Short for 1944, although this was one of his lesser appearances as the chaplain.
The year 1945 marked the end of Mr. Shayne's appearances in short films. Navy Nurse starred Andrea King, head nurse at a base hospital who helped Marjorie Riordan understand the duties and responsibilities of being a navy nurse. Shayne's character was not named in the credits. For Law of the Badlands, Bob was in a starring role as an officer wrongly accused, convicted of murder, and stripped of his commission. The film took place eight years before Custer's last stand at Little Big Horn and lots of stock footage was used from They Died with Their Boots On. Among the cast was Trevor Bardette ("The Human Bomb", "Great Caesar's Ghost"). Frontier Days co-starred Dorothy Malone. Stock footage was also extensively used from Errol Flynn's Dodge City. Shayne portrayed an Indian agent turned marshal to clean up a town in Kansas.
He also appeared in lighthearted films or comedies. As Stephanie Shayne mentioned, Dad was a wonderful actor. And, though he didn't get to do comedy very often, he was a wonderful comic actor. Among them was Make Your Own Bed (1944). Described as a "nonsensical story", wealthy businessman Alan Hale believed he was the target of a Nazi spy ring, so he hired private detective Jack Carson for protection in the guise of a butler. Jane Wyman starred as Carson's girlfriend who tagged along as Hale's maid. Hale hired whom he thought were actors but who turned out to be actual spies. Robert Shayne, as the district attorney and boss to Wyman, found himself tied and gagged like the rest of the household by the spies. Just in the nick of time, the FBI arrived to take charge. One of the agents was none other than Bill Kennedy (announcer for the introduction of the Adventures of Superman). Filled with some slapstick moments, the film gave many chuckles despite being short on plot. This film came under fire because of the Nazi element during WW II, which some considered in very poor taste.
One of the most enjoyable comedies was Christmas in Connecticut (1945). Dennis Morgan and Barbara Stanwyck had the lead roles. Stanwyck was a magazine columnist for a fictitious version of Good Housekeeping, complete with the home in the country and culinary delights. The only problem was that she didn't have that life, nor could she cook. Mr. Shayne was her boss, Dudley Beachem, and the talents of Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall wrapped up this lovely present. Stephanie Shayne has a soft spot in her heart for this one as well. As for the lead character, Dad said of all the leading ladies he worked with he liked Barbara Stanwyck the best. He'd say. She was a no-nonsense pro. Always prepared, knew her lines and was polite and friendly to everyone.
Bob Shayne appeared in Let's Live a Little (1948) with Hedy Lamarr, Bob Cummings, Jimmie Dodd (uncredited), Lucien Littlefield ("The Runaway Robot"), and Norma Varden ("A Ghost for Scotland Yard"). Ms. Lamarr was cast as the female psychiatrist to Cummings who fell madly in love with her, but she viewed him only as a case study. Shayne was the other doctor just happened to be Lamarr's jealous lover. The following year, Ms. Lamarr starred in Samson and Delilah. From Stephanie Shayne: Yes! Let's Live A Little was a wonderful film.
In between episodes of the Adventures of Superman, Robert Shayne was seen in Mr. Walkie Talkie (1952), as well as The Lady Wants Mink (1953). The latter also had well known cast members for baby boomers, Eve Arden ("Our Miss Brooks"), Tommy Rettig (original "Lassie" series), and Bobby Diamond ("Fury"). In the last Abbott and Costello film, Dance with Me, Henry (1956) as the district attorney, he was killed by henchman Richard Reeves, a regular heavy in film and television. Daughter Stephanie recalled that: I think I may have mentioned before that Dad and Huntz Hall were friends. I believe they were friends before Dad worked with them and Abbott & Costello. Dad and Bud Abbott were friendly too. Gigi Perreau, Rusty Hamer ("Make Room for Daddy"), Mary Wickes, and Walter Reed also starred. He had a part in the Bowery Boys' films Hot Shots (1956) also featuring Joi Lansing ("Superman's Wife"), and Spook Chasers (1957) directed by George Blair who did many of the episodes for TAOS. The latter had several familiar faces from the Superman series: Percy Helton, Peter Mamakos, Ben Welden, and Pierre Watkin.
Mr. Shayne even appeared in three Disney films, starting with Son of Flubber (1963), as the Assistant to the Defense Secretary. This was the sequel to the successful The Absent-Minded Professor. Fred MacMurray, Nancy Olsen, Tommy Kirk, Charles Ruggles, Keenan Wynn, William Demarest, and Paul Lynde were among the cast. The Barefoot Executive (1971) featured Kirk Russell, Joe Flynn, Harry Morgan, Wally Cox, Hayden Rorke ("The Face and the Voice"), and John Ritter. Bob was listed as a "sponsor". The Million Dollar Duck (1971) followed with Dean Jones and Sandy Duncan. When asked about her father working for Disney, Stephanie Shayne said: Walt liked Dad as did the head of casting at Disney. They used him whenever they could, in films and the TV show, along with Joe Flynn, Harry Morgan, Tristram Coffin, Herb Vigran, Sandra Gould and a slew of other character and utility actors. Dad was friends with all of them. During 'The Barefoot Executive', Dad made friends with a very young John Ritter, who was doing his first film. They remained friends. Dad had known John's dad, Tex.
One of his final comedies was The Specialist (1975) with Adam West. The plot involved a handsome lawyer who had a passionate affair with a beautiful woman (Ahna Capri who also appeared in Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon), not realizing that she was a paid assassin fulfilling a contract with his name on it. Bob Shayne's character was Chairman Hopkins. Lou Rawls did the theme song for the film. The Four Deuces (1976) starred Jack Palance as a gangster/owner of a club of the same name during Prohibition. Carol Lynley was his girlfriend/moll and Bob Shayne's character was Vince. It was filmed on the old RKO Forty Acres and from the Youtube clips was heavily influenced by the highly successful film The Sting.
Keep 'Em Rolling (1934) was a sentimental story about the bond between a cavalry horse named Rodney who saved the life of cavalryman Sgt. Walsh (Walter Huston). Walsh tried to stay in the Army in order to get his pension but was denied by efficiency expert Major James Parker, portrayed by Robert Shayne. He also scheduled Rodney for the glue factory which forces the soldier to go AWOL with his horse. He was captured and it took the US president's intervention to reunite soldier and horse. John Hamilton also appeared as a major on the front line during WW I.
One of our favorite films was Mr. Skeffington (1944). Bette Davis, as Fanny married Claude Raines (Skeffington), in order to pay off her brother's gambling debts. The marriage didn't work out and, following the divorce, many of her old suitors came around to court her again. The restaurant sequence between Mr. Shayne and Ms. Davis displayed some of the best acting from these two performers. She asked him if he ever killed a man. His response was typical of the men enamored of Fanny: "If you mean would I kill off Skeffington for you, the answer is sure, I'd love to". We asked daughter, Stephanie if her father ever mentioned what it was like to work with Bette Davis: Dad only did one film with Ms. Davis and that was 'Mr. Skeffington', a Warner Bros. film, while he was under contract there. He had a few stories to tell but he maintained that Ms. Davis was the consummate professional and he enjoyed every minute he worked with her.
Long before he would have a close working relationship with The Daily Planet reporters, Robert Shayne starred in I Ring Doorbells (1946) as a playwright who couldn't cut it and returned to his former field of journalism. He investigated a woman who was engaged to his son and suspected of gold digging, so with his camera hidden in her apartment, Bob captured her murder on film. Also starring were Anne Gwynn, Roscoe Karns, John Eldredge and Pierre Watkin. Behind the Mask (1946), a Monogram Picture, featured Kane Richmond as The Shadow. Robert Shayne's character, the newspaper editor, was determined to prove that The Shadow committed the murders of his own reporter and a police officer. George Chandler ("Face and the Voice", "Flight to the North", "Blackmail") and Pierre Watkin were also in the cast. Ms. Shayne volunteered that: I'm sure Dad and Pierre Watkin were friends, Dad made friends with most of his directors and co-actors, however, they were not social away from working together. Don't recall him ever coming to the house.
I Cover Big Town (1947) was based on the well known Big Town radio series, and later adapted for television with main character Steve Wilson, editor of a newspaper. This was the second of four films made from the radio series. Bob Shayne portrayed Chief Tom Blake. Among the cast were Robert Lowery ("The Deadly Rock"), and Leonard Penn ("Treasure of the Incas", "The Boy Who Hated Superman"). Backlash (1947) was not a highlight of Bob's film career, although John Eldredge, Richard Benedict ("Night of Terror", "Semi-Private Eye", "Close Shave"), and Billy Gray ("Shot in the Dark") were also featured. In Smash Up: The Portrait of a Woman (1947), Susan Hayward portrayed a fast-rising nightclub singer who put her career on hold to marry a songwriter. When her husband's career soared as a chart-topping radio crooner, she turned to the bottle. Other cast members besides Ms. Hayward and Bob Shayne were Lee Bowman, Marsha Hunt, Eddie Albert, Cecil Elliott (uncredited matron here, "The Evil Three"), Noel Neill (uncredited, girl at party), and Milburn Stone (Gunsmoke). Shayne's character was seen in a lounge celebrating his recent fatherhood as he spoke to Hayward. "No fooling, you guys. You've never seen a baby like mine. You just don't know what it means for two people to know that they have a wonderful little kid to live for. Listen, you can't refuse to drink to my new baby, can you? You probably think I'm an awful dope reacting this way. By golly, you just don't know what it's like to have a baby like that".
Bob Shayne's real life experience on Wall Street and the 1929 Crash served him well for the film, The Inside Story (1948). Costars included Marsha Hunt, William Lundigan, Gene Lockhart and Frank Ferguson ("Lady in Black"). This Allen Dwan film focused on the causes of the Depression, how it affected people as well as the Bank Holiday. Mr. Shayne portrayed a lawyer distraught that he could no longer support his wife. His character was oblivious to the fact that times were tough and he would just have to weather the storm. His happiness only returned once his income went up. As a point of trivia, Bob traded the traditional necktie in for a bow tie (shades of Jimmy Olsen) and a checkerboard one at that!
Experiment Alcatraz (1950) was quite a different role for Mr. Shayne. He was Barry Morgan, one of the inmates who volunteered to be a guinea pig for an experiment involving radioactive isotopes. In exchange for participation he would get his "get out of jail free" ticket. The experiment had an unexpected effect when he grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed his best friend to death. Reviewers gave Shayne high marks for this supporting role. Back on the right side of the law, Robert Shayne was the attorney partner of Pat O'Brien in the drama, Criminal Lawyer (1951). Jane Wyatt (Father Knows Best), Amanda Blake (Kitty on Gunsmoke), John Hamilton, Charles Lane, and Arthur Space ("Star of Fate", "The Seven Souvenirs") were among the familiar faces. With Fritz Lang in the director's chair, The Blue Gardenia (1953) was and still is a favorite of George Reeves' fans. Richard Conte, Anne Baxter, Ann Southern, and Raymond Burr as the playboy villain provided solid performances in this cinema, done in film noir style. George Reeves was the diligent and persistent police captain bent on solving Burr's murder. Robert Shayne appeared as the doctor, standing at the foot of Anne Baxter's bed.
Added to his resume was the Republic serial, Trader Tom of the China Seas (1954). Notables among the cast were Harry Lauter ("Tales of the Texas Rangers"), Aline Towne ("Superman on Earth" and "The Big Squeeze"), Lyle Talbot, heavy Richard Reeves, and stuntman Dale Van Sickel.
While Murder Is My Beat (1955) was not a prominent spot in Robert Shayne's career, he was picked to play police detective Bert Rawley in this very low budget film - perhaps because of his notoriety as Inspector Henderson. The film also starred Paul Langton and Barbara Payton in her last film. William Fawcett (Fury) was featured as the police pathologist. In Footsteps in the Night (1957), Mr. Shayne was the victim of strangulation whose neighbor, addicted to gambling was accused of killing him. Not every actor can say they had the pleasure of being in an Alfred Hitchcock film, even if it was very brief. North By Northwest (1959) had an impressive cast with Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau. Mr. Shayne's scene occurred when Cary Grant was meeting some business associates for lunch in a hotel. He was seated opposite Cary and was sporting a moustache. The Rebel Set (1959) was a story of how Edward Platt (Get Smart) rounded up three beatniks to rob an armored car. Gregg Palmer was one of the beatniks and Kathleen Crowley was his wife. John Lupton (Broken Arrow) was another recruit and Cecil Elliott ("The Evil Three") portrayed one of the gossips on the train. Mr. Shayne was Lt. Cassidy of the police.
The Wild West appealed to the adventurous and those brave souls who sought more "elbow room" than what was found back east. Explorers like Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Lewis and Clark paved the way for the brave men and women, who came in their covered wagons to this wilderness - the new frontier. Their stories became immortalized in films such as How the West Was Won and Stagecoach to name just two. The western gave us a new hero - the cowboy - and many an actor including Robert Shayne performed in at least one western picture.
San Antonio (1945) was Errol Flynn's final epic western. Flynn was a cattleman who fell in love with Alexis Smith. Bob Shayne was Capt. Morgan. S.Z. Sakall provided some lighter moments throughout the movie. Tom Tyler, John Litel, Chris-Pin Martin (of the Cisco Kid movies), Dan Seymour (*The Mind Machine", "The Stolen Costume", "The Runaway Robot") were among the supporting cast.
Loaded Pistols (1948) was a Gene Autry film, and as the singing cowboy, he sang five songs throughout. Robert Shayne portrayed Don Mason, who tried to purchase the ranch of a man accused of murder. Barbara Britton, Chill Wills, and Jack Holt were fellow cast members.
Dynamite Pass (1950) featured Tim Holt and Richard Martin, described as "RKO's resident western good guys" who have traded their cow punching stance for that of construction workers. Building a road was their object; however, John Dehner had other plans. As the title suggests, the road was in danger from being destroyed. Robert Shayne as cast as Jay Wingate and Denver Pyle was a henchman. Lew Landers, who directed TAOS episodes, "Three in One" and "Superman's Wife", directed this film. Ride From Tucson (1950) reunited Tim Holt, Richard Martin, and Bob Shayne. In one of his more sinister roles, Shayne and Veda Ann Borg ("The Stolen Costume") as husband and wife John and Gypsy Avery murder a prospector in order to get his claim. Holt and Martin were the heroes again. This movie was filmed at Lone Pine, California.
Indian Uprising (1951) featured George Montgomery as Capt. McCloud who was trying to keep peace between the Indians and the white men. Two prospectors were persuaded to continue mining on Indian land. Montgomery's character was replaced by wet-behind-the-ears Major Stark (Robert Shayne) who nearly caused the Indians to go on the warpath. Joe Sawyer (Sgt. Biff O'Hara from Rin Tin Tin), Tris Coffin, and Robert J. Wilke ("Perry White's Scoop") were part of the supporting cast.
Marshall of Cedar Rock (1953) was part of the Allan "Rocky" Lane Republic western series. Lane was a U.S. marshal who allowed the prisoner Anderson to escape in order to catch his boss, portrayed by Roy Barcroft. The prisoner's fiancée was none other than Phyllis Coates, Lois Lane in the first season of the Adventures of Superman. John Hamilton was the prison warden. Robert Shayne was Jackson, one of Barcroft's men, but he took on the identity of railroad agent John Harper who was murdered by Barcroft's gang.
In many westerns, film stars only appeared on horseback for the close-up shots but stunt doubles were used for the action scenes. Since her father appeared in a number of westerns, we asked if her father did his own riding, or if a stunt double was used for some of his scenes. Her comments were appreciated and also gave us an idea of how the industry worked with animals.
He liked riding at one time. He was a good equestrian. He was trained in English saddle. He learned to ride Western in a very long one day session and then started shooting the next day with a blistered behind. He liked horses but he hated working with "camera" horses (horses that were used exclusively for filming.) They were so uncontrollable when the director called for "action", they'd take off at full speed and when "cut" was called they'd just stop. They were very hard to handle according to Dad and a few other actors I've known. Dad was not a western star with a series or a franchise where he could have the luxury of working with the same horse. He got what was issued to him. He always looked good on a horse, though. Dad was good with firearms. He learned to shoot skeet on the east coast when he was young. He taught both my brother and I how to shoot a rife. We used to shoot out at our desert property. He was a pretty darned good shot with a rifle. He didn't own a handgun. I don't recall Dad ever stating a preference for one western over another. He did a boatload of them in shorts, features and TV. He enjoyed the genre.
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