(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
At home with the Terhune family in sunny California circa 1941. From left to right are sons Roltaire and Bob, Max and wife Maude, and daughter Maxine.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Max Terhune with his favorite mount, Banjo.
Max's range costume changed during his Mesquiteers and Range Busters appearances. Above left is his 'Lullaby' Joslin Mesquiteer outfit with the dark hat, dark vest, stag handled sixgun, and that shirt with spots. The two images on the right are Range Buster 'Alibi' with the light colored hat and either a light colored or checkerboard patterned shirt and a black handled six-shooter ... and the Eddie Dean gunbelt.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above - Max Terhune with his wisecrackin' dummy Elmer circa 1972.
Max joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) in 1930. Within a year, he organized IBM Ring #52 in Anderson, Indiana just before planning the Indiana State Magic Convention in 1932. He was a charter member in the 1938 formation of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring #21 in California. Max was also a member of the Society of American Magicians (SAM). At IBM and SAM regional get-togethers and conventions, Max was a frequent performer.
In the five or so years between the Busters and Johnny Mack Brown oaters, Max stayed busy, performing solo at theaters and fairs as well as touring with various country western groups. He toured with Tex Ritter's Western and Hillbilly Jamboree in 1944 and 1945. In 1947, Max did personal appearances with the Hoosier Hot Shots as well as Cal Shrum and his Rhythm Rangers and the Colorado Hill-Billies. And he also had occasional film roles. Examples: there was the action-packed SHERIFF OF SUNDOWN (Republic, 1944) which featured the one-time trio of Allan Lane, Duncan Renaldo and Max versus Roy Barcroft; he was also in Ken Maynard's last starring oater, HARMONY TRAIL (Mattox, 1944; re-released in 1947 by Astor as WHITE STALLION).
Returning to series westerns, Max signed on with the Johnny Mack Brown series at Monogram, and appeared in eight 1948-1949 releases with Brown. Recall that Terhune was replaced in the Mesquiteers series by Raymond Hatton. This time around, Max replaced Hatton who had a long run as Johnny Mack's sidekick.
Ray Corrigan had purchased some Simi Valley, California property in the late 1930s, and developed the land into his Corriganville Movie Ranch. The ranch was opened to visitors around 1949, and Terhune was a frequent performer in the 1950s and 1960s. He continued personal appearances and also had a California TV show in the early 1950s. The June 21, 1952 issue of Billboard reported that "Max Terhune's new TV show, 'Alibi's Tent Show,' has been so enthusiastically received that the sponsors, Dad's Root Beer, have jacked it up from one to three shots a week. It may now be seen over KNXT, Los Angeles, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:45 p.m. Coast time."
Texan Doug Bruton saw Max Terhune, Bob Steele and Black Jack O'Shea together in a performance at a local theater. Doug recalls:
"Bob Steele, Max Terhune and Jack O'Shea came to the Star Theater in Denison, Texas in 1949 or 50. They appeared on stage between the features and put on a little stage show. Bob came out and talked about his career and while he was out on stage, a voice from off-stage called out ... 'where is this Steele?' ... 'this town is not big enough for both of us'. Then Black Jack O'Shea came out and he and Bob drew on each other. Needless to say, Bob shot the gun out of his hand and then they had a dialog. Don't remember all of it, but Bob asked Jack 'How many pictures have you been in?'. Jack answered '140 Bob'. Bob said 'How many have you been killed in?'. Jack answered '140 Bob!' Then Max did his act with Elmer and was very funny. After the show I ran around to the stagedoor and talked with them for several minutes and as any 12 or 13 year old might do, I asked a thousand questions and they were very patient and friendly."
Max was devastated by two family passings. Son Roltaire died February 10, 1958 as a result of an automobile accident in/near Tulare, California. And wife Maude Cassada Terhune passed on August 10, 1966.
On June 5, 1973, Max Terhune passed away of a heart attack in Cottonwood, Arizona.
Tracy Terhune mentioned that many years ago, his family donated one of Max's Elmers to the Gene Autry Museum. (There's another Elmer at the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.)
Les Adams has Terhune in about 68 films (64 westerns, 4 other features and no serials). Fifty three of those are B westerns of the Three Mesquiteers (21), Range Busters (24) and Johnny Mack Brown (8).
Max's film work at Republic Pictures equates to 31 features and no serials spread over a period from 1936 - 1947.
The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars. In most cases, the winners were what you would expect - Autry, Rogers, Holt, Starrett, Hoppy, etc. While Max Terhune was never individually recognized in these polls, the Three Mesquiteers series - including the years when Terhune was a cast member - was consistently in the Top Ten. Likewise, Johnny Mack Brown received Top Ten rankings during the 1948-1949 period when Max was with him. Monogram's Range Busters never got a Top Ten or Top Five ranking.
Max was never recognized with a Golden Boot Award (the annual Golden Boot ceremonies ran from 1983 - 2007).
In my interviews with western film performers as well as the tons of material that I've read, everyone thought that Max Terhune was a genuine nice guy. And when western film fans think of the great sidekicks and saddle pals, Max Terhune is among the favorites.
In the book Back In The Saddle Again (Doubleday & Company, 1978) by Gene Autry with Mickey Herskowitz, Gene sums up his feelings about Max while recalling RIDE, RANGER, RIDE (Republic, 1936):
"A footnote to this film was the debut of Max Terhune, who became one of the best liked, off the screen, of all Western actors, As late as 1974, a 'Max Terhune Appreication Society' still flourished. Once a ventriliquist, Max got his start, as I did, at WLS radio in Chicago."
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
|World War II memories - Sergeant Gene Autry on the left with Max Terhune.|
Tracy Terhune added that this photo was taken in front of Republic Studios where they had some sort of welcome for Gene while he was on leave.
Gene called Terhune out to Hollywood to be in his film RIDE, RANGER, RIDE (Republic, 1936) and the Terhune family lived at Gene and Ina Autry's house for a few weeks when they arrived in California.
Terhune helped out songster Eddie Dean when he left the Barn Dance and came to Hollywood.
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above are Cal Shrum on his paint hoss chattin' with Max Terhune and Shrum's wife Alta Lee in a still from SWING, COWBOY, SWING (Three Crown, 1946; alternate title: BAD MAN FROM BIG BEND). In this ultra low budget film and one other, musician and band leader Cal Shrum tried to become a cowboy hero. He didn't succeed. Shrum and his band - along with Max - did a personal appearance tour to promote the films.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is the pressbook cover for SQUARE DANCE JUBILEE (Lippert, 1949). Though the film starred Don 'Red' Barry and the blonde-tressed Mary Beth Hughes (shown in upper right corner), it featured Spade Cooley and his western swing band, Cowboy Copas, Max Terhune, the Tumbleweed Tumblers, former Hoppy sidekick Britt Wood, more. The producer was Ron Ormond who also did the 'Western Adventures Productions' with Lash LaRue in the late 1940s. This was a 'Donald Barry Production' released through Lippert Pictures, and the storyline has talent agents Don Barry and pal Wally Vernon running into cattle rustlers while searching for performers to appear on Cooley's TV show.
ADDITIONAL TERHUNE INFO ON THE OLD CORRAL - don't forget to check out the Cowboy Trios section on the Old Corral. There, you'll find more info on Max Terhune under the Three Mesquiteers and Range Busters. And there's info and photos on Corriganville in the section marked Corriganville Movie Ranch.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Max Terhune: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0855579/
The Family Search website has information on Max Terhune and family:
One of Terhune's Elmers is at the Autry National Center: http://collections.theautry.org/mwebcgi/mweb.exe?request=record&id=M549564&type=101
Another Elmer is at the Vent Haven museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky: http://venthavenmuseum.com/fom/figure22.html
The Autry National Center has other Terhune images and memorabilia: http://collections.theautry.org/mwebcgi/mweb.exe?request=keyword;keyword=max%20terhune
There's a a Facebook page with a ton of photos of Max and family: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.111665545545893.5349.109451312433983&type=3
Terhune was a charter member in the 1938 formation of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring #21 in California:
The Anderson, Indiana Library has a profile on Max: http://www.and.lib.in.us/indiana-room/local-history/max-terhune
There's mention of Max at the WLS Barn Dance history website: http://www.wlshistory.com/NBD/NBDPR2.htm
Jerry L. Schneider's Movie-Making Locations Guide website on Hollywood film locations is at: http://www.movielocationsplus.com/
and his expanded site on Ray Corrigan's Corriganville is at: http://www.corriganville.net/
Author Stephen Lodge worked at Corriganville and reminisces about Crash Corrigan's movie ranch in his article "And Meanwhile...Back A The Ranch: Can You Remember Corriganville". Corriganville performer Max Terhune is mentioned: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?AuthorID=12206&id=8414
Dave Smith has a website on 'Hoosiers' (actors and actresses born in Indiana), and his profile on Terhune is at: http://www.whenmoviesweremovies.com/hoosieractors4.html
The Terhune Family genealogy website has info on Max Terhune: http://home.earthlink.net/~hjterhune/index.html#max_t
Ancestry.com has genealogy on the Nowlin family, and the Terhunes are mentioned, including Max and his wife Maude Cassada Terhune:
The Internet Archive has several public domain Three Mesquiteers and Range Busters films which you can view/download: http://archive.org/search.php?query=max%20terhune