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(Courtesy of Les Adams)
At the conclusion of their Syndicate series, Bob Steele went to work at Tiffany and Tom Tyler stayed with W. Ray Johnston who, along with producer Trem Carr, formed the Monogram organization. As to Bob Custer - he found work with the ultra low budget Big 4 Film Corporation.

Big 4 was founded by John R. Freuler in the late 1920s and released films to the states rights markets. That company went bust around 1932 and Freuler then put together Freuler Film Associates, sometimes referred to as "Monarch", and that venture lasted until about 1934. As shown on the left, Freuler/Big 4 was a bit overly optimistic, announcing plans for eighteen sagebrush adventures consisting of a half-dozen each for Custer, Buzz Barton and Wally Wales.

Reality was that only thirteen of the eighteen were lensed (with Wales starring in six of six and Buzz doing three of six). Custer had the lead in four which were produced by Burton King and released during 1931-1932. Guess who directed. Yup! - none other than J. P. McGowan.

Then Custer was off the screen for a couple years before saddling up for Nat Levine's THE LAW OF THE WILD (Mascot, 1934), a 12 chapter serial featuring pretty Lucile Browne as the heroine. This is among the weakest of the Mascot chapterplays and includes some obvious - and poorly done - rear screen projections. Examples: the opening credits show Custer, atop his hoss, with a band of projected mustangs galloping in the background; and at the end of Chapter 2, Custer is trying to halt a hoss battle in the ranch corral between Rex and a paint/pinto, and the cliffhanger shows Bob about to be stomped by an oversized, rear screen projected paint. Custer doesn't even get top billing in THE LAW OF THE WILD opening credits - he's fourth billed behind Rin-Tin-Tin, Jr., Rex, the Wonder Horse and cross-eyed comic Ben Turpin.

In addition to the lack of film work, there were personal problems on the homefront and a newspaper article describes the situation:

8-25-1933 ... Anne Elizabeth Cudahy Glenn was granted a divorce from Raymond Anthony Glenn in ... San Diego, California. She charged cruelty, stating that her husband flew into violent rages and called her names.

The cruelty charge is pretty standard divorce rationale. Not mentioned is that Custer and Anne enjoyed a lavish lifestyle that included big houses, high-priced cars, etc. Custer was making big money circa late 1920s, but those paychecks ended with the demise of his FBO series. Then came the stock market fall and the Depression as well as the conversion from silents to talkies.

Ron Coons did an interview with Custer/Glenn in 1974, about six months prior to his passing, and it was published in an early edition of Boyd Magers' Western Clippings. In that interview, Custer mentioned that his pay at FBO was initially $100.00/week but had escalated to $1000.00/weekly by the fifth year. He also commented about losing a fortune in the stock market crash and Depression, and by the 1930s, movie jobs were tough to find. And them came the singing cowboys. (There's a shortened version of Coons' Custer interview at the Find A Grave website, and you'll find a link to that in a later Bob Custer webpage.)



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Franklyn Farnum, Bob Custer and George Chesebro mixing it up in a scene from MARK OF THE SPUR (Big 4, 1932).



(From Old Corral image collection)

The 12 chapter the LAW OF THE WILD (Mascot, 1934) was directed by Armand Schaefer and B. Reeves "Breezy" Eason.  Rex (the black hoss) and Rin-Tin-Tin Jr. (the dog) got top billing, probably because they had more drawing power than Custer. In the above lobby card, Custer is using some right handed persuasion against Edmund Cobb.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Bob Custer lands a right to the jaw of Dick Cramer in another duotone lobby card from the LAW OF THE WILD (Mascot, 1934). Cramer was the brains heavy in this serial.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Dick Cramer doin' battle with Bob Custer on the left and cross-eyed Ben Turpin on the right in an unidentified scene still from the LAW OF THE WILD (Mascot, 1934) cliffhanger.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - J. P. McGowan
About J. P. McGowan

J. P. McGowan (1880-1952) was married to silent serial heroine Helen Holmes, but the pair divorced in the mid 1920s. McGowan's full name was John Paterson McGowan.

In the Old Corral section The Best (and Worst) of the West, Boyd Magers has info on McGowan under his review for Lane Chandler's OUTLAW TAMER (1935 Empire). Boyd writes:

"Australian born McGowan (1880-1952) was an adventurous workaholic. Writer/actor/producer/director/editor - he often tried to do too much. In the '30s, after his glory days in silents from 1911-1929, his workaholic disposition led him to poverty row outfits like Empire where there simply was no budget for his ambitious attitude, so, much of his directorial work with Tom Tyler, Bob Custer, Bob Steele and Buzz Barton is hurried and crudely fashioned. For OUTLAW TAMER, obviously made on the cheap by a company who only stayed in business 18 months and turned out just nine films, much of the outdoor sequences seem to have been shot silent with sound poorly dubbed in later. McGowan also plays the Sheriff in this one."

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on J. P. McGowan: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0569645/



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