|On the right is Max Terhune and a very young Eddie Dean on the road. The date of this photo is unknown, but probably around 1937-1938 when both performers were trying to earn a living in California.|
Terhune had come to Hollywood at the insistence of pal Gene Autry, and hooked up with Republic Pictures in an Autry film and then the Three Mesquiteers series. Dean went to Hollywood around 1937, and could only find bit parts and supporting roles in movies until about 1944.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Although his talents as a singer and composer served him longer, he had an interesting acting career as well. He first appeared in a 1938 Gene Autry-Smiley Burnette film at Republic, WESTERN JAMBOREE. The next year, he was part of the cast for the Republic serial, THE LONE RANGER RIDES AGAIN (1939) with Bob Livingston. Next came five William Boyd/Hopalong Cassidy films at Paramount: RENEGADE TRAIL, LAW OF THE PAMPAS (both 1939), SANTA FE MARSHAL, HIDDEN GOLD and STAGECOACH WAR (all 1940), and the loosely-adapted Zane Grey story, LIGHT OF THE WESTERN STARS (1940), starring Victor Jory as a leading man in a western for a change.
Dean once told of offering William Boyd a loan when Boyd had sunk everything he could raise and borrow into acquiring all his old Hoppy films, and trying in vain to sell them to television. A few days later, Dean said, he encountered Boyd again in an expensive suit and hat, and the news that everything had come together over the weekend and he was the richest cowboy in Hollywood.
For the next few years, Dean would pop up in western casts at a variety of studios with some of the most popular leading cowboy stars around. Some examples of those early Dean screen appearances include:
Forrest Lee Green sent the Old Corral webmaster an e-mail about Dean working on the Autry MELODY RANCH radio radio show:
"I was in the same squadron with T/S Orvon (Gene) Autry, at Luke Field, Phoenix, Arizona in 1942 and '43. His MELODY RANCH radio program on Sunday afternoons was carried from the theater at Luke. Eddie Dean, his brother, and Dick Rinehart, formerly with W. Lee O'Daniel's 'Lightcrust Doughboys', comprised the 'Gene Autry Trio'. The Deans were nice, gentlemanly fellows. The musical director was Carl Cotner whose violin is in the Gene Autry Museum. I sang in the group which introduced the Autry show and made a few appearances with Gene accompanied by Ruth Etting's husband, Merle Alderman (who was called Johnny in the movie about her life)."
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Don Barry, Harry Worth and Milton Kibbee in a scene from Barry's KANSAS CYCLONE (Republic, 1941). If you look closely between Worth and Kibbee, you might make out Eddie Dean doing a henchman role about five years before he became PRC's resident singin' cowboy. Milt Kibbee's brother was Hollywood character actor Guy Kibbee.
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above from left to right are perpetual baddie Charlie King at the desk, Eddie Dean, Lee 'Lone Ranger' Powell, and big and tall Glenn Strange, standing and wearing the eye shade. Lobby card from RAIDERS OF THE WEST (PRC, 1942), one of the six films in the short-lived 'Frontier Marshals' trio series. Dean and Glenn Strange were good friends, and even collaborated on some songs together.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above, Lee 'Lone Ranger' Powell and Charles 'Slim' Whitaker are about ready to jump this quartet of no-goods in ROLLING DOWN THE GREAT DIVIDE (PRC, 1942), one of the Frontier Marshals trio series. Unaware of their pending doom, the four baddies are, from left to right: Rex Lease, Charlie King, Eddie Dean and Glenn Strange. Note the lineup as being shortest to tallest - and check the height of Glenn Strange vs. Rex Lease.