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TUMBLEWEED TRAIL and STARS OVER TEXAS (both 1946) again have Eddie and Soapy saving Shirley Patterson's ranch. In the second version of this plot, the script is enlivened by the return of Lee Bennett in a dual role: as Patterson's foreman who is a target of the outlaws, and as Eddie's more competent friend who impersonates him to draw the outlaws' fire away from him. Patterson is supposedly drawn to both men (she quickly realizes the switch) but proves more interested in the initially-bashful Dean.  WILD COUNTRY started the Dean series for 1947, in which he and Soapy are on the trail of fugitive I. Stanford Jolley. The best part of this movie is when an unarmed Dean goes up against a crooked sheriff (Lee Roberts) and calmly counts the sheriff's missed shots until his gun is empty. "You can't go up against him bear-handed", a friend advises Eddie. "That's all right", Eddie replies. "That sheriff's been asking for some bare-handed treatment." RANGE BEYOND THE BLUE has Eddie and Soapy solving stage line robberies. WEST TO GLORY boasts an unusual dream sequence, in which Eddie and Soapy are dressed in each other's clothing and Soapy dreams that he is the two-gun hero with Dean as his sidekick. SHADOW VALLEY with Eagle Lion replacing PRC as the studio's name, has Eddie saving the girl's ranch again but this time Jennifer Holt returns as the girl. BLACK HILLS ended the 1947 season with the two lawmen uncovering claim jumpers.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Eddie Dean is locked in battle with Douglas Fowley in this lobby card from WILD COUNTRY (PRC, 1947). The moustached guy standing on the right is Forrest Matthews.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Peggy Wynne, Roscoe Ates, and Eddie Dean in another lobby card from WILD COUNTRY.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Roscoe Ates, Eddie Dean and Dolores Castle in a lobby card from WEST TO GLORY (PRC, 1947). This was one of Dean's better oaters, and includes the dream sequence with Ates as the hero (in Dean's clothes) and Eddie as his sidekick (and wearing Ates' costume). Gregg Barton is the gang boss out to steal the Lopez diamond. Heroine Dolores Castle is an undercover agent for the Mexican government.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - singin' cowboy Eddie Dean strums the guitar, saddle pal Roscoe Ates toots a jug, and the singing group is Andy Parker and the Plainsmen in this lobby card from BLACK HILLS (PRC, 1947). Kevin Coffey helped identify the band members. From L-to-R on the top row are George Bamby (accordion), Paul 'Clem' Smith and Earl 'Joaquin' Murphey. Bottom row far left is Charlie Morgan, and on the far right is Andy Parker (with white hat and guitar). Sidekick Roscoe Ates and Eddie Dean are centered in the bottom row.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - in this lobby card from THE WESTWARD TRAIL (PRC, 1948), Carl Mathews has the drop on Eddie Dean and Phyllis Planchard. Bob Duncan is the crooked lawmen on the far right.

CHECK YOUR GUNS launched the final year of the series, and proved to be nothing short of a musical version of the Wyatt Earp saga. The setting was not Tombstone, Dean played himself rather than Earp, and there was no Doc Holliday counterpart, but otherwise the story was much the same as that penned about Wyatt by Stuart N. Lake in the 1930s, which was the basis for movies starring Richard Dix, George O'Brien, Henry Fonda, Randolph Scott, Burt Lancaster and even Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner. When Dean goes out alone to arrest a gang that has just shot the sheriff, Lane Bradford advises Terry Frost not to raise his weapon: "Just because his hands ain't near his guns don't mean he ain't fast." This is also the movie in which one of the heavies practically beats Eddie to a pulp in a saloon brawl ... until Eddie, obviously having had enough of that, gets up, angrily kicks a chair out of the way, walks up to his opponent, and decks him with a single punch. It's a great sequence.

The heroines in the Dean films were talented and pretty, and included Jennifer Holt, Louise Currie, Shirley Patterson (Shawn Smith) and Nancy Gates.

(Photo courtesy of Minard Coons)
Nancy Gates played the niece of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve in several of the 1940s RKO films that were based on the popular radio show.

She made a few westerns, and then did a bunch of TV shows in the 1950s.

In the photo left, Dean and Nancy Gates share a tender moment in CHECK YOUR GUNS (PRC, 1948). And at the ending, Nancy and Dean do a duet on a tune titled "Moseyin' Along".

From left to right are Ted Adams, Frank Ellis, Shirley Patterson and Dean in TUMBLEWEED TRAIL (PRC, 1946). Shirley Patterson (1922-1995) was the female lead in four with Dean: TUMBLEWEED TRAIL (PRC, 1946), STARS OVER TEXAS (PRC, 1946), DRIFTIN' RIVER (PRC, 1946) and BLACK HILLS (PRC, 1947).

She was the heroine in the first BATMAN (Columbia, 1943) serial. One of her last films - and billed as Shawn Smith - was THE LAND UNKNOWN (Universal, 1957), a tale of a military expedition landing inside of a volcano and finding dinosaurs. Stuntman and future Tarzan Jock Mahoney was the star and Henry Brandon (lead in the Fu Manchu cliffhanger) had a meaty role as a crazed scientist.

(From Old Corral image collection)

(From Old Corral image collection)
Left is Elizabeth Marshall Holt (1920-1997), the sister of RKO western star Tim Holt.

She used the screen name of Jennifer Holt and did a batch of B westerns in the 1940s, co-starring with Johnny Mack Brown, Rod Cameron, Buster Crabbe, others.

She was the feminine lead in five with Dean: SONG OF OLD WYOMING (PRC, 1945), SHADOW VALLEY (PRC, 1947), THE HAWK OF POWDER RIVER (PRC, 1948), TORNADO RANGE (PRC, 1948) and THE TIOGA KID (PRC, 1948).

Jennifer was a busy gal at PRC circa 1947-1948. In addition to the Dean adventures, she also did four with Lash LaRue.

TORNADO RANGE puts Eddie between ranchers and homesteaders. THE WESTWARD TRAIL has him saving yet another lady's ranch.  But THE HAWK OF POWDER RIVER stars Jennifer Holt in the title role, as the masked leader of rampaging outlaws until Eddie guns down her and most of her gang in a gunfight among the rocks. Holt said this was her favorite western role, allowing her to chew up the scenery and be mean to everybody her character didn't like.

Following the re-edited WILD WEST/PRAIRIE OUTLAWS, the Dean series concluded with THE TIOGA KID, with Eddie in a double role ... as his usual character, and as the title outlaw who turns out to be his long-lost brother -- and who, in the tradition of the Cheyenne Kid and Tucson, dies in the end as he decides to fight on the side of the good guys.

The scripts may not have been original, and the production values not that high, but some of Eddie Dean's movies are quite memorable, thanks to the star's apparent willingness to take occasional chances.

(Photo by Roger Karnbad, courtesy of Ancel Cook)

Left is a February 6, 1999 photo of singin' cowboys Eddie Dean and Herb Jeffries at a fund raiser at the Iverson Movie Ranch to raise money for Dean's star in Palm Springs.

Eddie passed away on March 4, 1999, less than a month after this photo was taken.

He and wife Lorene 'Dearest' Dean (1911-2002) are interred at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park, Westlake Village, Los Angeles County, California.

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