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(From Old Corral image collection)
From left to right are Crabbe, Jean Rogers (as Dale Arden) and Frank Shannon (as Professor Zarkov) in the second of the Flash Gordon chapterplays, FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS.


On the right are Crabbe and pretty Frances Robinson in the detective cliffhanger, RED BARRY (Universal, 1938).

This was Crabbe's third of five serials for Universal, and was sandwiched between the first two FLASH GORDONs and the later BUCK ROGERS and FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE.

(From Old Corral image collection)



(Courtesy of Les Adams)
The B film production company that ultimately became PRC began life in 1938 when Ben Judell formed Progressive Pictures Corporation. Over the next couple of years, the enterprise went through some financial turmoil as well as a management shakeup and that included the exit of Judell and the arrival of Sigmund Neufeld. There were several name changes also - there was Producers Pictures ... then Producers Distributing Corporation (PDC) ... followed by Sigmund Neufeld Productions ... and then Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), which was a subsidiary of Pathe Industries, Inc.

PRC was a low budget film factory, and B westerns were among their wares. In 1940 - 1941, Bob Steele starred as 'Billy the Kid' in six films for PRC (and he portrayed Billy as a good guy wrongfully blamed for various misdeeds). But Steele received a better offer to become one of the Three Mesquiteers at Republic Pictures. To fill Steele's slot, PRC hired Buster Crabbe, and from 1941-1946, he would appear in three dozen western programmers along with a few other films. All thirty six oaters were directed by Sam Newfield using his own name as well as the pseudonym of "Sherman Scott" (and you'll find that info in the Crabbe filmography on a later webpage).

The initial entries had Crabbe continuing the 'Billy the Kid' characterization, but his screen name was later changed to 'Billy Carson' (supposedly because of the negative connotation associated with 'Billy the Kid').

Crabbe's sidekick in all these range epics was Al 'Fuzzy' St. John, who had become entrenched as a B western sidekick and had developed a great screen character named 'Fuzzy Q. Jones'.  St. John took center stage in a couple of the entries, FUZZY SETTLES DOWN (PRC, 1944) and HIS BROTHER'S GHOST (PRC, 1945). 'Fuzzy' was a busy performer at PRC in the 1940s, working with Steele in the initial 'Billy the Kid' yarns as well as with George Houston and Bob Livingston in the Lone Rider adventures. He even did some sidekicking in several 1940 - 1942 Republics with Don Barry. When the Crabbe films ended, he went to work in a new PRC series with Al 'Lash' LaRue.

On the left is a pressbook ad for one of Buster's early PRCs, the dreadful JUNGLE MAN (PRC, 1941). Boring and chock full of stock footage, this film's only redeeming value is that Crabbe is reunited with Charles Middleton who was Ming in the Flash Gordon chapterplays ... but this mess was a big step down for both actors.




On the right is a trade ad promoting Crabbe as PRC's New King Of The Wild West (and dropping any reference to 'Billy the Kid').

(Courtesy of Les Adams)



(Courtesy of Les Adams)
On the left is a pressbook ad for FUZZY SETTLES DOWN (PRC, 1944) and you may be able to spot Buster vs. perpetual nemesis Charlie King.

In this one, St. John becomes the crusading owner of a local newspaper.

This adventure is unique in that it's the only B western to have the sidekick's name as part of the title.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

The above crop is from a lobby card from BILLY THE KID TRAPPED (PRC, 1942), and shows from left to right, Bud McTaggart, Al 'Fuzzy' St. John and Buster.

In the initial PRC Billy the Kid flicks, hero Bob Steele was assisted by a pair of saddle pals, Al 'Fuzzy' St. John and Carleton Young as 'Jeff' (with Rex Lease subbing for Young in one film). When Crabbe took over the role, PRC continued the trio approach in six films before Buster and Fuzzy were on their own as a duo. In those initial half-dozen, the third member was most often Dave O'Brien (in four films), but Carleton Young and Bud McTaggart assisted in one each.

Malcolm 'Bud' McTaggart (1910-1949) was married and divorced from western and serial heroine Pamela Blake/Adele Pearce. In the late 1940s, he did a name change to 'James Taggart' and in 1949, he died in a swimming pool accident.




(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Marjorie Manners, Archie Ricks, Ray Jones, Buster Crabbe, unidentified man and woman, Frank Hagney, unidentified woman, I. Stanford Jolley (with the six-shooter), and on the far right is an unidentifed player. Production still from Crabbe's BLAZING FRONTIER (PRC, 1943). Don't be fooled by the badge on Hagney as he and Stan Jolley are the gang leaders in this Billy the Kid yarn.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Jack Hendricks (AKA Ray Henderson), Buster Crabbe, Frank Ellis, Al 'Fuzzy' St. John, Ray Jones and Lorraine Miller in a still from BORDER BADMEN (PRC, 1945).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Buster gives support to Kay Hughes in a lobby card from FIGHTING BILL CARSON (PRC, 1945). Hughes retired soon after this film appearance. She is best remembered as the heroine in the serials THE VIGILANTES ARE COMING (Republic, 1936), DICK TRACY (Republic, 1937) and RADIO PATROL (Universal, 1937).



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