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(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Ken and Tarzan in a lobby card from FARGO EXPRESS (KBS/World Wide, 1932).



Maynard was now a tested and proven Hollywood screen hero, and Universal Pictures made an offer.  In summary, the deal was for Maynard to join the studio, get his own 'Ken Maynard Productions' unit, and have creative/financial control over his movies.  He also received a nice salary and a percentage of the film profits.

He did eight at Universal for 1929-1930 --- some were silents, some part-talkies, and some were released in both silent and talkie versions, depending on the capabilities of the theater.  Edmund Richard 'Hoot' Gibson was Universal's other western movie star.

But the advent of sound caused some chaos as the production companies and theaters went through the conversion.  Universal was in some financial difficulties, or just didn't know what to do with new-fangled talking westerns.  They decided to discontinue cowboy films, and the contracts of Gibson and Maynard weren't renewed.  (A year or two later, Universal changed their mind, bringing Tom Mix back to the silver screen in 1932-1933).

Ken signed on with producers Phil Goldstone and William Saal, both of whom had Poverty Row companies that were releasing their product through Tiffany.

Maynard starred in eleven series westerns which were released during 1930-1932.  Most were produced by Goldstone though Saal was in charge of a few.  All featured shots of Ken riding Tarzan to and fro ... you know, saving the heroine, chasing the gang, running from the baddies, etc.  Guesstimate on the production budgets for each was in the $10,000-$15,000 range.  These were exciting and solid fare for the Saturday matinee, and a good example is WHISTLIN' DAN (Tiffany, 1932).  Ken even did a dual role in POCATELLO KID (Tiffany, 1931).

One of the nine is a standout --- HELL-FIRE AUSTIN (Tiffany, 1932), which is the last made under the Tiffany arrangement.  Maynard and his buddy, played by Nat Pendleton, come home to Texas after serving in the Army ... they wind up in jail ... and the horse race at the end is actionful and beautifully lensed.

But this was the Depression era times and Tiffany, which had been turning out movies since the early 1920s, was in financial hot water and went belly-up in 1932.

Maynard didn't have to go very far for his next job --- the series continued under a new production outfit named the K. B. S. Film Company with World Wide handling the releases. KBS stands for Burt Kelly, Samuel Bischoff and William Saal, and that company was short-lived, disappearing around 1933.  Saal was with Maynard on the Tiffany oaters.  Bischoff was also involved --- he happened to be the president of Tiffany during it's last year or two of existence.

Maynard's KBS entries have a tad better look to them, either because of slightly higher budgets, better care/quality from the production personnel, or most probably, Ken and the crew simply had the formula down pat. Among my favorites are COME ON, TARZAN (KBS/World Wide, 1932), FARGO EXPRESS (KBS/World Wide,1932), TOMBSTONE CANYON (KBS/World Wide, 1932), and THE LONE AVENGER (KBS/World Wide, 1933).

Tidbit: Bob Steele was another that followed a similar path.  He worked at Tiffany during the early 1930s, and this included his first sound effort, NEAR THE RAINBOW'S END (Tiffany, 1930).  When Tiffany foundered, producer Trem Carr moved the Steele series over to World Wide.

Overall, the nineteen Tiffany and KBS/World Wide oaters kept Maynard on the screen and his popularity was on the rise.  The highlights were clearly Ken and Tarzan.  The negatives were several, including the lack of music (other than over the opening credits); tinderbox interior sets; and Maynard's fighting skills, as well as the filming and choreography of the brawls, were not the polish and precision that would be the trademark of later Republic westerns.

Maynard was probably in a state of shock for the sweep and budgets of the Tiffany and KBS entries were not even close to his First National and Universal groups.  And Ken was not given charge of the finances, scripts and overall production.  World Wide was also close to financial ruin.  But that didn't make any difference to Maynard.  A better offer was just around the corner.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)
 
(Courtesy of Les Adams)



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Pretty Cecilia Parker has the drop on Ken and Tarzan in this lobby card from TOMBSTONE CANYON (KBS/World Wide, 1932).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Frank Coghlan, Jr. (in the Boy Scout uniform), Ken Maynard, and Ken's brother Kermit Maynard in a lobby card from DRUM TAPS (KBS/World Wide, 1933). Coghlan did a bunch of films and several of his memorable performances were in chapterplays - as 'Uncas' in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (Mascot, 1932) and 'Billy Batson' in the ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL (Republic, 1941).



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