(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)
Above, former 'Little Beaver' Don Kay Reynolds with Donn Moyer, circa 1991.
Donn and Nancy Moyer met Reynolds when all were performing at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup, Washington in 1991. The Moyers had worked with his father Fess Reynolds in 1958 touring the midwest with the Gene Holter Wild Animal Show. Fess was a famous horse trainer and rodeo performer. Nancy and Donn lost track of "Jug" when he moved from Santa Paula, California. After several years they located him in his new home in Texas, and in February, 2003, they called and renewed old acquaintances and chatted about old times.
Donn and Nancy write:
Reynolds was born in Texas in 1937, and his first professional appearance before a rodeo crowd was just before he turned three years of age. He had a Shetland pony and an Angora goat act with his dad Fess Reynolds (often misspelled as "Fez"). Roy Rogers brought them to Hollywood after working with them in NY rodeo. He was in Rogers' YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS in 1944, a total of 5 films before being cast as "Little Beaver". "Jug" made 14 films, including THE RED PONY with Myrna Loy and Robert Mitchum, and he worked at Republic, M-G-M, Columbia and Equity Productions/Eagle-Lion. Spent his life in a variety of jobs both show biz and non-show biz. He was divorced after 31 years of marriage and has two grown boys, a granddaughter of 16 and a grandson 16 months old. He worked in a number of films as animal trainer, including BIG TOP PEE WEE and the made for television movie THREE KINGS with Jack Warden and Stan Shaw. "Jug" worked for Universal for six and a half years in the animal department until they closed it down in January, 2002. He is also a ferrier.
He went to Norway in the 1980s for six weeks and trained Reindeer to pull a sled so actor Dudley Moore could handle them in the film SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE (1985). He has trained horses, zebra, camels, ponies, goats, and recently spent a year in New Zealand training animals for THE LORD OF THE RINGS. He worked on SCORPION KING, and in 2001 worked on KATE AND LEOPOLD. For a 2002 episode of THE SOPRANO'S, he trained a horse that was "sick" in the script. More recently, he trained the two horses (one the primary the other the stunt double) that were the horse "Shadowfax" (ridden by Gandalf) in THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
In retirement now back in Texas, we asked him if he got a studio call what would he do and he said "nothing. I am really retired."
An interesting side note --- it has been alleged that actress Marin Sais gave him the nickname "Little Brown Jug", but that is incorrect. He was given that nickname when he was about a year and a half old. The Reynolds family all have nicknames. His cousins are "Blackie", "Whitie" and he was called "Brownie". He said his dad took him to see a man in Texas named Hal Hart. When they walked through the door, Glenn Miller's "Little Brown Jug" was playing on the radio and Hart said "Well if it isn't Fess and 'Little Brown Jug' ".
One of his brothers is Paul "Sled" Reynolds. "Sled" is a well known animal trainer and owns the "Gentle Jungle" which provides a variety of animals to for TV and films.
Donn & Nancy Moyer
Updated: May, 2006
Linda Brock and her father were friends with Fess Reynolds, and she has a blog with info and pictures titled "My Dad and Fess Reynolds": http://ocmist-acountrygrammyswalkwithgod.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-dad-and-fess-reynolds.html
The website on Paul "Sled" Reynolds and his "Gentle Jungle" is at: http://www.gentlejungle.com/
Sir Ian McKellen talks about THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Gandalf, Shadowfax ... and Don Reynolds: http://www.mckellen.com/cinema/lotr/001003.htm
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has film appearance information on Don Reynolds: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0721690/
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Don Kay 'Little Brown Jug' Reynolds (as Little Beaver), Jim Bannon and sidekick Emmett Lynn in a scene from RIDE, RYDER, RIDE (Eagle Lion, 1949), the first of the four Bannon Red Ryder adventures.
(Courtesy of Don "Brown Jug" Reynolds)
(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)
The above photos were taken in the mid 1940's when Reynolds was age 8 or 9.