To Music Mountain Homepage




(From Old Corral image collection)



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above are Cal Shrum and his wife Alta Lee at one of the 1970s film festivals.
Cal Shrum

Full name: Cal James Shrum

1910 - 1996

Brothers Cal and Walt Shrum were born in Missouri. Cal was a member of Walt's "Colorado Hillbillies" musical group which was formed in the 1930s in the Denver area where the Shrum family resided.

Their earliest movie work was in the Gene Autry film, THE OLD BARN DANCE (Republic, 1938).

In 1940, Cal went on his own forming his first "Rhythm Rangers" and the group provided musical support in westerns starring Tex Ritter, Charles Starrett, Johnny Mack Brown and the PRC Texas Rangers.

Circa 1945, after his discharge from the U.S. Army, Cal created a short-lived record and film production company named Westernair and during that period, he bankrolled (and starred in) a couple of no budget, dreary B westerns:

SWING, COWBOY, SWING (Three Crown, 1946; alternate title: BAD MAN FROM BIG BEND) had Cal as the hero and assistance from Three Mesquiteers and Range Busters member Max Terhune.

TROUBLE AT MELODY MESA (Three Crown/Astor, 1949) had former Hopalong Cassidy sidekick Brad King as the lead with Cal doing helper duties.

I do have several newspaper blurbs on Cal and his group doing 1946 and 1947 theater stage shows which were tied to screenings of SWING, COWBOY, SWING. The other western, TROUBLE AT MELODY MESA, was filmed circa 1946 but got lost or put on hold until Astor released it in 1949. Both films featured Shrum's wife Alta Lee (1924-2010; real name: Mary Francis Wise).

In the 1960s - early 1970s, Cal was a western/country deejay on Tampa, Florida radio station WHBO (where he worked with his son Gary, who was also a deejay). In his later years, Cal resided in Springfield, Illinois and he passed away on March 12, 1996. His brother Walt passed in 1971.

There were many country/western musical groups that appeared in the old B western. Dominant was the Sons of the Pioneers, followed by the Riders of the Purple Sage and the Cass County Boys. The various groups of Walt and Cal included many prominent musicians and singers including: Spade Cooley, Ace Spriggins, Deuce Spriggins, Tex Williams, accordionist Tony Fiore, and guitarist Cene Haas.

Lila Ashear did some sleuthing and was able to locate some additional information on Cal Shrum, his wife Alta Lee, and Cal's brother Walt Shrum:

Cal Shrum was born either Cal James Shrum or James Cal Shrum. It is possible that his birth name was actually Calvin but his World War II Army Enlistment records list his name as Cal J. Shrum. A personal family tree has his name listed as James Calvin but I have a suspicion that is because early census records show his name as James. No way of knowing actual, and likely he had no birth certificate since he was born in 1910. His birth date is July 4, 1910 and he died March 12, 1996. He is buried at Camp Butler National Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. He was a Private in the Army, enlisting 20 March 1943.

A personal family tree shows a Walter Franklin Shrum was born 16 October 1896 in Missouri and died 6 February 1971 as being Cal's brother; however, I'm not sure of that at all. There was such a person but I don't think he was Cal's brother Walt. Walt shows up in the 1930 census with Cal and his parents in Riverside, California and that census indicates his birth year as 1905 which corresponds to the brother called "Roy" in the 1920 Census. I am going to pursue that further.

There is a funeral home obituary for 85 year old Mary F. Shrum. She was born Oct. 12, 1924 and passed away on Sunday, June 6, 2010 in Mena, Arkansas:
http://www.tributes.com/show/Mary-F.-Shrum-88731038
http://www.beasleywoodfuneralhome.com/obituaries.aspx?turl=http://hosting-25459.tributes.com/show/mary-f.-shrum-88731038


  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on:
     Cal Shrum: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0795453/
     Alta Lee (Mary Francis Wise Shrum): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0496792/
     Walt Shrum: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0795458/

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for Cal J. Shrum and Mary F. Shrum at Camp Butler National Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1178594

You can download or stream the public domain TROUBLE AT MELODY MESA from the Internet Archive website: http://www.archive.org/details/trouble_at_melody_mesa

There's info on Shrum's deejay time at WHBO in Tampa, Florida at the Radio Years website: http://www.radioyears.com/other/details.cfm?id=861




(Image courtesy of Les Adams)

Above are Cal Shrum and his Rhythm Rangers with Tex Ritter in ROLLING HOME TO TEXAS (Monogram, 1941). Thanks to Kevin Coffey for help in identifying the performers - from left to right are: Robert 'Pappy' Hoag, Hal Blair, Tex Williams, Ritter, Cene Haas, Cal Shrum, Rusty Cline, and Tony Fiore.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above are Cal Shrum on his paint hoss chattin' with Max Terhune and Alta Lee in a still from SWING, COWBOY, SWING (Three Crown, 1946; alternate title: BAD MAN FROM BIG BEND).



(Image courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from left to right are Sunset Carson, Cal Shrum and Bob Allen at one of the film/nostalgia conventions.



To Music Mountain Homepage