(From Old Corral image collection)
|Special thanks to Hans J. Wollstein for the following narrative on Buddy Roosevelt. Hans is a former actor turned entertainment writer. His first book, Strangers in Hollywood (Scarecrow Press, 1994) was followed by Vixens, Floozies and Molls (McFarland, 1999). An associate editor of the All-Movie Guide, he has contributed more than 3000 essays, mainly on silent films, early talkies and Westerns. After many years in the US, Hans resides in a 200 year old country cottage near his hometown of Copenhagen, Denmark. Hans' e-mail address is: email@example.com|
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above is Buddy Roosevelt - silent era photo.
(From Old Corral image collection)
The cast for RKO's POWDERSMOKE RANGE (1935) included various past, current and future western film heroes, including Roosevelt.
|The son of English settlers, handsome Kenneth Stanhope Sanderson came to Southern California from his birthplace in Meeker, Colorado, with the C. B. Irwin Wild West Show in 1914.
Like so many before him, he found employment as a stunt-man with producer Thomas Ince at fabled Inceville (today's Santa Monica), doubling the great early western star William S. Hart. According to Western film historian Buck Rainey, the newcomer was awarded the handsome sum of $22 a week doubling Hart in such classics as HELL'S HINGES (1916), but World War I interrupted what could only have been a dream-come-through for the young rodeo rider. Sanderson reportedly saw duty on the ill-fated U.S.S. Norfolk, nearly drowned and barely survived the devastating flu epidemic of 1918.
Returning to Hollywood after the armistice, Sanderson doubled Rudolph Valentino in that star's breakthrough film, THE SHEIK (1921), and, at Universal, William Desmond in the serial BEASTS OF PARADISE (1923). Universal producer Nat Ross hired him to star in DOWN IN TEXAS, a 2-reeler, but he somehow fell though the cracks at that studio and instead signed a personal contract with poverty row entrepreneur Lester F. Scott, Jr.
A typical shoestring producer whose product was released on the low budget, states rights circuits, Scott didn't like the name Sanderson and awarded the newcomer the more alluring Buddy Roosevelt, in honor, presumably, of former president Theodore Roosevelt.
Beginning with ROUGH RIDIN' (1924), in which he prevents crooked ranch foreman Joe Rickson from taking advantage of heroine Elsa Benham, the newly named Buddy Roosevelt would make 25 fast-paced oaters for Scott, many with the name 'Buddy' in the title. Each cost approximately $22,000 to produce, even then a low amount, but Scott surrounded his novice actor with such veteran supporting players as Lafe McKee, Josef W. Girard, Lew Meehan, and Ruth Royce, and an obviously talented young director named Richard Thorpe kept the pace lickety-split. Buddy's leading ladies were all well-known to rural audiences and included a very young, brunette, Jean Arthur.
Unfortunately, the budgets deteriorated even further along the way, especially after Scott hired newcomers Jay Wilsey and Floyd Alderson, both of whom were awarded catchy monikers, Buffalo Bill, Jr. and Wally Wales (after the Prince of), respectively. With three stars vying for attention (and budgets), a certain sameness began to creep into the vehicles and audiences were soon hard pressed to remember whether they had just seen Buffalo, Wally or Buddy --- plots and leading ladies had become interchangeable.
In January of 1928, Roosevelt had had enough and bolted in favor of rival Rayart Productions, where he once again was defeated by low budgets. This time, however, there was no Richard Thorpe to put him through his paces but instead one J. P. McGowan, a director for whom the term 'hack' may very well have been coined. After six of these misbegotten little oaters, Roosevelt earned what could have been the biggest break of his career. Cast as the Cisco Kid in the all-talking IN OLD ARIZONA (1929), Buddy had to withdraw at the last moment due to a broken leg. Warner Baxter replaced him and won an Academy Award.
Stuntman producer Paul Malvern, meanwhile, was interested in hiring Roosevelt for a new series of sound westerns, but Mrs. Roosevelt reportedly ruined what could have saved a decidedly rocky career by demanding too much money. John Wayne was cast instead and the rest, as they say, is history.
Roosevelt did do another western series but with cheapskate entrepreneur Jack Irwin at the helm, and for a lot less money than Malvern had offered. The three Roosevelt/Irwin westerns, LIGHTNING SMITH RETURNS, THE RIDIN' KID, and VALLEY OF BAD MEN, remain among the most obscure ever released - if they ever truly were released. Because they contained almost identical casts, it is perhaps easy to assume that they were merely alternate titles for the same film, but apparently three films were indeed produced - in all likelihood back-to-back.
In LIGHTNING SMITH RETURNS, Roosevelt played a fiction writer invited to a ranch by Barbara Worth (AKA Hazel Keener), who then teases him mercilessly about his ignorance of all things western. He was an undercover marshal battling a megalomaniac rancher (played by former director William Bertram) in THE RIDIN' KID (AKA THE RIDING KID), and discovered that a crooked tax attorney (Tom London) has usurped his ancestral ranch in VALLEY OF BAD MEN. Like most shoestring producers, Irwin ran out of money after that and no further Roosevelt westerns were produced.
After doubling Marion Davies riding scenes in OPERATOR 13, and playing supporting roles in a host of other films, Roosevelt was again starred on poverty row, this time by the ubiquitous Victor Adamson (AKA Denver Dixon, AKA Art Mix), who in 1934 cast him in four oaters for Superior Talking Pictures, which, of course, were far from superior. Roosevelt was a foreman attempting to help some beleaguered neighbors in BOSS COWBOY; fought outlaws over oil claims in CIRCLE CANYON; trailed a gang after witnessing the murder of a miner in LIGHTNING RANGE; and became the 'Texas Terror', cleaning up a gaggle of cutthroats in RAWHIDE ROMANCE. Anyone who has ever sat through an Adamson/Dixon/Mix production will know that these films were as ramshackle as they come.
With the Adamson series, Roosevelt was through as a star but he continued playing bit roles in scores of westerns and action melodramas until retiring in the early 1960s. The indefatigable Les Adams has clocked his appearances in sound films at about 100, including 50 westerns, 14 cliffhangers and the rest assorted non-western features and shorts. According to Republic Pictures authority Jack Mathis, he did about 20 westerns and serials for that studio between 1936 and 1955. In other words, from HELL'S HINGES (1916) to THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962), his final credited film, Buddy Roosevelt's career contains the entire history of the classic American western film.
(Courtesy of Norman Foster)
|After his Hollywood career ended, Buddy returned to his hometown of Meeker, Colorado where he lived for the remainder of his life.|
He passed away on October 6, 1973, was buried in Meeker, and the grave marker photo notes he served in the Coast Guard during World War II.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Buddy Roosevelt. Pay particular attention to his many henchman, townsman, barfly roles in 1950s - early 1960s TV programs. IMDb has him appearing in over a hundred episodes of the LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0740480/
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Buddy is interred at Highland Cemetery, Meeker, Colorado: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10064735
The Google Newspaper archive has a 1942 article about Buddy's many years as the stand-in for Ronald Colman: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19420603&id=3_IjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HP8DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6348,3776350
There's more articles on Buddy at the Google Newspaper archive: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22buddy%20roosevelt%22%20site:news.google.com/newspapers&source=newspapers#q=%22buddy+roosevelt%22+site:news.google.com/newspapers&start=0
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have information on Buddy Roosevelt / Kenneth Sanderson:
There's been questions on whether Sanderson's middle name was Standhope or Stanhope. Stanhope is confirmed based on the two marriage licenses noted above. Highland Cemetery, also known as Meeker Cemetery, is located about a half mile south of the town of Meeker, Colorado and is the burial location for Sanderson/Buddy Roosevelt. Based on the cemetery records, his middle name was Stanhope and parents were Edward Stanhope Render Sanderson (1854-1917) and Amy Charlotte Johnston (1867-1943): http://files.usgwarchives.net/co/rioblanco/cemeteries/rioblanco/pg9.htm#S
Buddy Roosevelt - silent western hero.
Above - a 1926 tradepaper ad for Buddy's 1926-1927 westerns for Lester F. Scott Jr.'s Action Pictures. Other range riders working for Scott were Wally Wales (Hal Taliaferro) and Buffalo Bill, Jr. (Jay Wilsey). Originally distributed by Weiss Brothers - Artclass, Scott shifted his distribution to Associated Exhibitors in mid 1926.
Above - a 1927 tradepaper ad for more silent oaters starring Buddy, Wales and Buffalo Bill, Jr. These were also from Lester F. Scott Jr.'s Action Pictures but were being distributed through Pathe.
During the mid to late 1920s, Richard Thorpe directed nearly four dozen western silents starring Roosevelt, Wales and Wilsey. Thorpe spent most of his later years at MGM where he helmed many Tarzan films, spectacles such as IVANHOE (MGM, 1952) with Robert Taylor, Mario Lanza in THE GREAT CARUSO (MGM, 1951), and Elvis Presley in JAILHOUSE ROCK (MGM, 1957) and FUN IN ACAPULCO (MGM, 1963). Thorpe was the director on the Judy Garland THE WIZARD OF OZ, but was replaced by George Cukor ... who was replaced by Victor Fleming.
Buddy's last silent western series was circa 1928 for Producer Trem Carr who was releasing the films through Rayart (which later became Syndicate Pictures). There were a half-dozen, all directed by J. P. McGowan. I don't recall any of these being available for viewing.
|Writer/actor/producer/director/film editor John Paterson McGowan (1880-1952) was married to silent serial heroine Helen Holmes, but the pair divorced in the mid 1920s.|