Nat Levine and Gene Autry ... and Smiley Burnette
Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette were performers on the National Barn Dance radio program which originated from station WLS in Chicago. And both headed to Hollywood in 1934 to work for Mascot.
Jack Mathis' Republic Confidential, Volume 2, The Players (Jack Mathis Advertising, 1992) has details on Gene's contract:
(From Old Corral collection)
Released in September, 1935, TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS (Republic, 1935) was Autry's first starring B western. The title lobby card above shows him on the original Champion (with that unique face blaze and three white socks). Armand Schaefer was associate producer and Levine was the producer.
'Mandy' Schaefer and Autry became friends and business associates. In his later years, Schaefer was president and executive producer at Gene's company which was creating Autry's post World War II sagebrushers for Columbia Pictures as well as various 1950s TV programs from Gene's "Flying A Productions".
Nat Levine and John Wayne
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
A young John Wayne starred in three cliffhangers for Levine, and gave him a boost as a good lookin' action hero. His first was THE SHADOW OF THE EAGLE (Mascot, 1932) and the above lobby card is for Chapter 1. "The Carnival Mystery". The other two were THE HURRICANE EXPRESS (Mascot, 1932) and THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Mascot, 1933).
In 1932 - 1933, Wayne starred in six B westerns for Warners.
The came sixteen "Lone Star" sagebrush adventures released 1933 - 1935 by Monogram and produced by Paul Malvern.
Wayne and Malvern were swept up in the new Republic Pictures organization and teamed for another eight oaters which were released by Republic in 1935 - 1936. Trem Carr was producer on these, but after he exited Republic, Levine was took charge of Wayne's last two, THE LONELY TRAIL (Republic, 1936) and WINDS OF THE WASTELAND (Republic, 1936).
Wayne and Paul Malvern then went to Universal Pictures where Wayne starred in a half dozen non-westerns in 1936 - 1937.
His next was a solo western with Johnny Mack Brown, BORN TO THE WEST (Paramount, 1937; alternate title: HELL TOWN).
Then Wayne was back at Republic playing "Stony Brooke" - and replacing Bob Livingston - in the Three Mesquiteers trio yarns. His first of eight Mesquiteers was PALS OF THE SADDLE (Republic, 1938), and was released in August, 1938.
Then came STAGECOACH (Walter Wanger/United Artists, 1939).
Nat Levine and Frankie Darro
Nat Levine and stunt man Yakima Canutt
Nat Levine and stunt man Cliff Lyons
Nat Levine ... and horses and dogs