(March 28 1903 - March 22 1986)
Movie Cowboy: One of Charles Starrett's claims to fame is that he appeared in more "B" Westerns that anyone else, 131 between 1935 and 1952.
In over 60 films he starred as the "Durango Kid" who was a masked avenger, somewhat in the mold of the Lone Ranger. While on the Darmouth football team, in 1926, he was hired to play a football extra in the 1926 film "The Quarterback".
In 1930 he played the romantic lead in "Fast and Loose", which also featured such stars as Miriam Hopkins, Carole Lombard and Frank Morgan. He was active for the next two years but his roles were unremarkable. He later appeared in four Broadway plays prior to moving to Hollywood.
Among one of Starrett's most important accomplishments was that he, along with 17 other film actors in 1933, helped to found the Screen Actors Guild.
Columbia Pictures signed Starrett in 1935 to replace top cowboy star, Tim McCoy, who had quit. He ended up starring in 115 movies in the following 16 years with Columbia. The first film in which he played his famous alter-ego, "The Durango Kid", was released in 1940 but for some reason, Columbia did not want to continue with the series at that time.
The Durango Kid was then revived in 1944 and it lasted through 1952. Dub Taylor, as "Cannonball", worked with Starrett until 1946. and Smiley Burnette, who had been a popular sidekick to Gene Autry, was brought in to replace Taylor upon his departure. The Durango Kid films combined wonderful action sequences with spectacular stuntwork performed by Jock Mahoney. Each film featured a singing group, and Burnette's musical abilities (singing and playing) added to their popularity. In all, Starrett did 56 films with Smiley Burnette. Starrett's last Western was released in 1952.
Starrett, who was independently wealthy, ended his acting career at age 48 when the Durango Kid series had halted production. Starrett died in Borrego Springs, California, six days short of his 83rd birthday.