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Bruce Hickey


        I am from Auckland, New Zealand. I'm 65 years old & have been a B western fan all my life, in particular the movies of Charles Starrett & Roy Rogers. I met Roy at his museum in 1986 & got to talk with him for about 30 minutes. I wrote articles in Wranglers Roost on those encounters. (Friday, October 10, 2008)














Bruce is delighted to share his vast collection of images that relate to the Sons of the Pioneers and Bob Nolan. He also said he would enjoy hearing from other fans. His email address is: bruce.hickey@xtra.co.nz



Bruce Hickey and part of his collection


      I had corresponded with Charles from 1969 & finally met him & Mary at the 1980 Memphis Film Festival & they invited me to visit them at their home at Laguna Beach, California. I didn’t get around to that visit until 1984 but it was worth the wait. I was accompanied by Colin Momber of England, editor of the 38 year old B Western mag., Wranglers Roost & Ab Breeden, B Western historian of Los Angeles.


Charles & Mary Starrett at their home.


        We had planned on taking up the Starrett's invitation to return again in 1985 but sadly he passed away that year before we could get to see him. The final correspondence I had with him was a newspaper article they sent me on his involvement with the restoration of the original store dummy of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. He was just the most warmhearted guy. We [Colin & I] were each in our forties and we struggled to keep up with him that day around their home and the country club where they took us for lunch. His eyesight was practically gone by then but it sure didn't slow him down. It was one of those memorable days that stay in the mind forever. He was one special guy and I treasure the association I had with him. There is a bio being done on him by Ray White. I think it's going to be a good one.

        Charlie disagreed with Roy over the SOP's arrival in their movies. Charlie told us and I also left this out, "I wish the Sons of the Pioneers had stayed with me and not gone to Roy. I had too many different groups after that and never knew who was turning up for each movie."

        I have only got a few Starrett items (stills, posters and a few cards) around the home. The rest we had to take with much of my b western memorabilia to store at our holiday home 3 hours south of Auckland. Sadly, we don't have any other photos of our visit with the Starretts. My camera was at the end of its "use-by" date and Colin who is a professional photographer, lost his (stolen) the next day at his hotel. That was such a tragedy, losing combined, about 30 shots of the visit.



My favourite still of Starrett. The perfect shot of what he meant to us kids of the Saturday matinees. I should have mentioned that the stills he signed for us that day, like this one, have a special meaning for us when you consider his failing eyesight. When we saw how he struggled with writing, we were reluctant to ask him but he enjoyed the ones we brought with us and insisted on signing them. What a man he was.




Cartoon from Charles Starrett to Bruce.


Charles Starrett


Charles Starrett & his two boys with Wallace Ford and daughter

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant



 "That's the best portrait shot I have ever seen of Iris. Charley spoke most fondly of her."



Iris Meredith in July of 1976, already suffering from the facial cancer that took her life early in 1980. "It was sent to me by the late Bill McDowell, a very highly regarded B-Western historian/authority who attended the B-Western convention she was at."

A Day with Durango

The following article by Bruce Hickey is taken from Wranglers Roost, Issue No. 71, pp 10-12, 1984:






 B-Westerners and Their Attire

by Bruce Hickey in Wrangler's Roost 136, 2009, pp 23-24.



George O'Brien





Bruce Hickey Meets Roy Rogers

        I was fortunate that Roy [Rogers] signed two 8x10’s to me as he had this policy of just posing with the fans & not signing autographs, but he made an exception in my case because I had travelled so far.
I first went to the Rogers museum in 1983,but Roy wasn’t there, but it was 1986, my second visit, that I got to meet him.


Roy Rogers and I at the Roy Rogers & Dale Evans museum in 1985.


This is the best shot I took of Roy.


The following article by Bruce Hickey is from Wranglers Roost, Issue No. 77, pp 6-9, 1985.






The 2 stills on the right are the two Roy autographed to me at his museum in 1986.


        One thing I told both of them (rather cheekily, probably) & which I should have included in the articles (but didn’t want to upset some of the readers) was that their movies were never the same again after the SOP’s left. It was hard to gauge Roy’s reaction to that as it was about the last thing I said to him but he did say” Charlie & I were fortunate we had the best with them". You will read in the article how Charley disagreed with Roy over the SOP's arrival in their movies. Both Roy & Charles loved & admired Bob…….

        Roy… "I loved Bob like a brother, a great talent & a wonderful friend; he should have been a western lead himself”.
        Charles…."Bob should have been given his own series or at least given a brother type role with me like Hoppy had with Lucky. People said that Bob was a loner, but he wasn’t really, it's just that when he composed those wonderful songs he liked to go off by himself to the desert”.









The Sons of the Pioneers with their manager, Sam Allen.


Valley View Park, Pennsylvania, July 20, 1941


The Classic Sons of the Pioneers, 1946











George O'Brien

(courtesy of Buddy Bryant)


George O'Brien



Riding the Celluloid Range


The following article by Bruce Hickey is also from Wranglers Roost Issue No. 77, 1986:





Mary & Charles Starrett 1983 to Bruce from Colin Momber


    I have a Gene Autry colour still he autographed to me in 1988.I never met him but I wrote to him & the colour still came back autographed. Now I cant say 100% that he himself signed it but it looks pretty much like the 100’s of autographed ones I have seen over the years.




Wranglers Roost #134 Sept.2008 contains an article written by Bobby Copeland and Bruce Hickey, printed here with their permission:



B Westerners in World War II

By Bobby Copeland & Bruce Hickey


          While it has been well documented over the years in the media regarding the members of Hollywood's elite who served in WW2 (Stewart, Gable, Taylor, Fonda, Power etc. & even Gene Autry is regularly mentioned) but little mention is ever made of those from the b western genre. So it has been interesting to research and to find who did and who did not serve & those who didn’t serve-for whatever reason. In the latter category are those who by January 1942, when the US entered the war (after Pearl Harbour in Dec. 1941), were too old, having been born prior to 1910. Although that didn’t stop the likes of Tim McCoy, George O'Brien from reenlisting.

          The too old category included Charles Starrett, Johnny Mack Brown, Bill Elliott, Bob Steele, Buster Crabbe, Eddie Dean, Tex Ritter, Bob Livingston, Allan Lane. But the services were taking enlistees up to the age of 35, eg. John Dusty King at 32.




GENE AUTRY. Served as a Flight Officer with the Air Transport Command. From 1943-1945, he flew C-47 cargo planes in the China-Burma-India theatre, earning the American Campaign Medal, National Defence Medal, China Service Medal, Asiatic Pacific Theatre Medal with Battle Star & Overseas Service Bar. When the war ended he was assigned to Special Services where he toured with a USO troupe in the South Pacific before resuming his movie career in 1946. 

TIM HOLT Air Force. Flew B29 Bombardier flying missions over Japan. Attained the rank of Lieutenant. Decorations: Presidential Citation with  two clusters, the Pacific Defence Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Citation with three clusters & Victory Medal. Survived a crash landing at Guam after his plane was riddled with Japanese bullets. Had the dubious distinction of narrating a film on venereal disease which was shown to all serviceman. 

DAVE SHARPE Army Air Corps. Bomber & fighter pilot & Training Squadron Commander. Attained the rank of Captain, awarded two Bronze Stars. 

GEORGE O’BRIEN After receiving decorations for service in the Navy WW1 he reenlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbour. Fought in the Pacific serving as a Beachmaster involved in island invasions, receiving further decorations. 

WAYNE MORRIS Probably the most distinguished war service action of any from the  b western genre. He was one of the first Hollywood actors to enter the service, joining the Naval Reserves & receiving a Commission. Following flight training & a year as an instructor he was thrust immediately in the Pacific air war, flying an F6F Hellcat with VF_15 off the carrier, USS Essex. He would go on to fly 57 missions, shooting down seven Japanese aircraft as well as participating in the sinking of five Japanese warships, making him one of the early American aces of the war. Of the 57 missions he flew, three of his Hellcats were so full of holes when he returned to his carrier, they were rendered “unfit for duty” & dumped overboard. He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses & two Air Medals for Acts of Valour & Courage, American Campaign Medal, National Defence Medal. Philippines Liberation Medal (with Battle Star), China Service Medal, Asiatic Pacific Theatre Medal (with Battle star & Overseas Service Bar), earned while flying in active operations against the enemy. Earned the rank of Lt. Commander. 

PAT BRADY Served in the Army for three years. Fought in France with Patton's 3rd Army. Received citation for valour, and two Purple Hearts.

STERLING HOLLOWAY Enlisted in the Army in 1942.

LEE POWELL Enlisted in the Marines in the summer of 1942 & saw action in Tarawa & Saipan. Sgt. Powell lived through some of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. On July 30 1944, the day the battle of Tinian (in the Marianas Islands) ended Sgt. Lee Powell, 18th Regiment, 2nd Marine Division died of  acute alcohol poisoning. Newspapers at the time assumed he had been killed in action, but Powell's USMC files report not only the alcohol poisoning but some “misconduct” the nature of which was “undetermined”. It is rumoured that Powell & some buddies made some tainted whiskey. Some of his buddies became very ill as a result of consuming the bad alcohol but caused Powell's death. He was buried in Tinian Cemetery but in 1949 his remains were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific, Honolulu.




TIM McCOY Reenlisted after having previously served in the Army in WW1. Tim commented later, “I walked out of a contract at Monogram because the war was on. I used to say at the time that any guy who was physical enough to do the things we had to do in western pictures ought to be in there doing his stuff. We had a war going on. Not playing cowboys and Indians. So I sent Monogram a telegram and walked right off (the Rough Riders series). They said they could  have me deferred. Deferred my eye! I was 50 years old when we went into ww2.They offered me a job as commander of a glider-pilot school in Kentucky, but I turned it down & a short time after that I went overseas. Performed liaison work with the Army Air Corps in Europe. Awarded Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, American Defence Service Ribbon, European Theatre Ribbon with two Battle Stars, one Overseas Service Bar. Rose to the rank of Colonel. 

BOB BAKER Army. He was called to active duty on May 8 1940, but was released on January 1941 due to his age and the increase of his family.

JOHN KIMBOROUGH Army Air Corps. He became a pilot during WW2 but did not fly any combat missions. He was member of the Army Football All-Star team which raised money for relief and war bonds by playing football. 

GEORGE MONTGOMERY Army Air Corps. Served 1943-45 in the motion pictures division. 

KEN CURTIS Army.1942-45.Served in Infantry, Anti Aircraft & Combat Engineers divisions.

JOHN DUSTY KING Served in the Army Air Corps for almost four years. Worked in Public Relations & stationed at Douglas, Arizona. Did not see action perhaps because of his age.

SUNSET CARSON Went into the Army but saw no action. Only served briefly as apparently the training was too much for him & he ended up in hospital.

ROSCOE ATES Army Major in Special Services (Entertainment)





DON BARRY 4-F Abdominal Rupture.


DAVE O’BRIEN 4-F Physically unfit. Hard to accept this one considering the scores of slips, trips, flops & falls he did in the Pete Smith Speciality Shorts, in particular. 

JAMES NEWILL 4-F Physically unfit.

REX ALLEN Probably didn’t serve because of a crossed eye.





          The two biggest names that come to mind are, of course, John Wayne & Roy Rogers who are forever tainted with the stigma of opting out unlike so many of their contemporaries from the Hollywood community who put country first before family & career.

          To be fair to Wayne at the time of Pearl Harbour he did have a wife, four children under 10 years, a widowed mother & supported his brother. He was exempted from service (classified 3A-family deferment) due to his age, 34 (born 1907). With that degree of family responsibility it is doubtful if many would have volunteered to go to war.

          In May 1944 Wayne was reclassified as 1-A (draft eligible) but Republic Studio obtained a 2-A deferment (support of national health, safety or interest) & remained  that until the end of the war. Wayne did not dodge the draft but he did not take positive actions towards enlistment. He went to the South Pacific for three months in 1943/44 touring US bases & hospitals as well as doing special work for the Office of Strategic Services commander, William K “Wild Bill” Donovan who thought Wayne's celebrity might be good cover for the assessment of the causes for poor relations between General Douglas MacArthur & Donovan's OSS Pacific network. In some places Wayne was not well received. He did file a report & Donovan gave him a plaque & commendation for serving with the OSS, but Wayne dismissed it as meaningless.

          There is no question that, by not serving & making all those war pictures, he upset many. Also the fact that so many leading men were in the service & Wayne free to make movies greatly enhanced his career. It is doubtful if he would have gained the notoriety to the extent he enjoyed as a movie star had he gone into the services for 3-4 years.


          Roy Rogers, although four years younger than Wayne was in a similar status when the US joined the war. Married with one child (Cheryl, adopted in 1941), probably the supporter of his mother & father. Later Linda Lou was born in 1943.


Gene Autry enlists.


          Republic had also tried to prevent Gene Autry’s enlistment but Autry would have none of it. This incensed studio head, Herbert J Yates. In an attempt to get even with Autry, Yates spent a small fortune in promoting their number two solo star, Roy Rogers by erecting billboards throughout the country, buying ads in magazines & newspapers & even going as far as to star Rogers in a feature titled King of the Cowboys.

          Perhaps Rogers, like Wayne, felt guilty about not serving. Certainly by not serving caused him to be known as the mythical “King of the Cowboys”. There is no question about Roy’s patriotism (or Wayne's). Roy sold millions of dollars worth of War Bonds during WW2 & made numerous USO tours of military bases with Trigger (probably Trigger Jr.) performing for the men & women in uniform. During one record-setting tour of Texas bases, Roy & one of his Triggers made 136 performances in just 20 days! Years later he made a tour of Vietnam to cheer up the troops there.


Roy and Trigger Jr. entertaining the service men.





Film Festivals


Charles Starrett and Fan, George O'Brien in foreground

1980 Memphis Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


Monte Hale, Charles Starrett and Pat Buttram

1980 Memphis Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


Charles Starrett with fans

1980 Memphis Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


Charles Starrett and Yakima Canutt

1980 Memphis Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


Jane Munsey and Charles Starrett 1980 Memphis Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


George O' Brien and fans

1980 Memphis Film Festival


George O' Brien

1980 Memphis Film Festival


Ben Johnson

1980 Memphis Film Festival


Charles Starrett and Monte Hale

6. Name of film festival and date

Photo by ??


Gene Autry and Charles Starrett

7. Name of film festival and date

Photo by ??


1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


            We had Charles Starrett as guest at our North Carolina festival in 1984. As a surprise, we had one of our guys (Will Scotten from N. Carolina)  on a gorgeous white horse with a Durango Kid costume ride up and surprise Charlie who knew nothing about it and was genuinely fooled. He praised everyone and said that we did him great honor in doing what we did. I think everyone was touched (not in the head). Anyhow, it was a great afternoon. (Buddy Bryant)


1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant



Dorothy Gulliver (actress)

1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


Kirby Grant (Sky King)

1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant


Yakima Canutt (and wife) John Crawford (actor)

1984 North Carolina Film Festival

Photo by Buddy Bryant



Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

1985 Golden Boot Award

Photo by Buddy Bryant


Roy Rogers

1986 Golden Boot Award

Photo by Buddy Bryant


Roy Rogers with Fan

1986 Golden Boot Award

Photo by Buddy Bryant







A Variety of Photos


Gene Autry


Gene Autry's first starring role in a non-series full length movie was in "Tumbling Tumbleweeds", a film that took the name and title song from Bob Nolan's great classic. (Neither Bob nor the Sons of the Pioneers were in the movie.)






Charles Starrett


Charles Starrett


Charles Starrett


Charles Starrett in The Man from Sundown, 1939


Charles Starrett


Charles Starrett



Iris Meredith, co-star of most of the Starrett westerns.


George O'Brien


A youthful Roy Rogers.


George "Gabby" Hayes from 1965 when he was cruising to Hawaii on a Matson liner.


Hal Taliaferro aka Wally Wales






The Old Homestead, 1935 08 10


The Big Show, 1936 11 16


The Big Show, 1936 11 16


The Big Show, 1936 11 16


The Big Show, 1936 11 16




The Old Corral, 1936 12 21



The Old Corral, 1936 12 21




The Nick Williams Collection



















Columbia's Charles Starrett Films with the Sons of the Pioneers

Republic's Roy Rogers Films with the Sons of the Pioneers



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