In the mid 1930s, Republic Pictures had been created by the merger/consolidation of Mascot Pictures, Monogram Pictures, Consolidated Film Industries and a few other pieces. A year or two later, little Monogram was resurrected as a B studio. In 1937, after the Crescent adventures, Tom Keene found himself at Monogram in four enjoyable, solid westerns: GOD'S COUNTRY AND THE MAN (Monogram, 1937), WHERE TRAILS DIVIDE (Monogram, 1937), ROMANCE OF THE ROCKIES (Monogram, 1937), and THE PAINTED TRAIL (Monogram, 1938). ROMANCE OF THE ROCKIES is among the lost/missing westerns. WHERE TRAILS DIVIDE uses a brother-against-brother theme, and a young Dave Sharpe portrays Keene's sibling and Warner Richmond is the brains heavy.
Keene only did four at Monogram, and Tim McCoy did four to fill out the block of eight films which was the norm for B-western series. In addition to McCoy and Keene, Monogram's other cowboy hero during that period was Jack Randall, the brother of Three Mesquiteers' star Bob Livingston.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
For the 1937-1938 season, Monogram had sixteen western releases: four with Tim McCoy, four with Tom Keene, and "8 sensational Monogram musical westerns!" with their new star, Jack Randall.
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above is a great lobby card showing Charlie King mixing it up with Keene in GOD'S COUNTRY AND THE MAN (Monogram, 1937). Looks like poor ol' Charlie has to buy a new shirt. In their cliff top battle, King takes a long fall ... a dummy subbed for Charlie, of course.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above - Tom Keene gives first aid to Betty Compson while Billy Bletcher, as the local blacksmith, looks on in this lobby card from GOD'S COUNTRY AND THE MAN (Monogram, 1937).
(Courtesy of Wes Baker)
Above is a far shot and a crop/closeup. Driving the stage is Silver Tip Baker. On the ground from L-to-R are: Eleanor Stewart, Tom Keene, Lorraine Randall, Charles K. French, and stage guard Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon. Scene from the Keene starrer WHERE TRAILS DIVIDE (Monogram, 1937).
(Courtesy of Ken Jones)
Above from L-to-R are Earl Dwire, Steve Clark, Keene, Oscar Gahan, Charles B. Murphy (wearing badge) and Denver Dixon (Victor Adamson) in a scene from ROMANCE OF THE ROCKIES (Monogram, 1937), one of the lost/missing B westerns.
In 1939, Keene became Honorary Mayor of Sherman Oaks, California, and local newspapers had story and photo coverage. Citizens weren't involved in the voting or election - he was given the Honorary Mayor title by the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce membership. Tom was also off the screen for a couple years. Got an e-mail from Brent Davis, who lives in the area. Brent writes: "Being mayor of the communities such as Encino, Tarzana and Sherman Oaks is strictly an honorary position affording the individual an opportunity to attend a few cocktail parties and have their picture taken often. Keene was in real estate for a few years between motion picture and television assignments." Brent also sent me a couple of newspaper clippings about Keene/Powers being the 'other man' in a love triangle and divorce circa 1948. If you want a jpg image of the clippings, send the Old Corral webmeister an e-mail.
Tom Keene's last starring series was back at Monogram in 1941-1942, and there were eight oaters, all of which were created by producer/director/jack-of-all trades Robert Emmett Tansey.
On the upside, Arkansas 'Slim' Andrews and Frank Yaconelli were OK sidekicks and stuntwoman/great rider Betty Miles was around in several of the entries. And Keene, riding good looking cayuses named Rusty and Prince, still had a youthful appearance though he was in his mid forties.
On the downside was blonde moppet Sugar Dawn, who appeared in five of the eight and had to be there to appeal to the juveniles in the theater audience. Do you recall Sugar always riding for help on Chiquita, her paint pony ... she also worked in the Tex Ritter series at Monogram. If you don't remember Sugar Dawn? Click HERE.
In DRIFTIN' KID (Monogram, 1941), Keene essayed a dual role. His last Monogram - and his finale as a B-western lead - was appropriately titled WHERE TRAILS END (Monogram, 1942), which had a wartime theme about a gang trying to corral ranches which had valuable tungsten deposits.
Some tidbits about the never ending musical chairs with Monogram's cowboy heroes: the four films each that Keene and Tim McCoy did in the late 1930s for Monogram apparently were a stopgap measure which the studio needed to fulfill their release schedules and commitments. The reason was simple - Monogram was preparing for the arrival of Tex Ritter. After several years and a bunch of films for Monogram, Ritter signed with Columbia in 1941 and would partner up with Bill Elliott. That left Monogram to find some quick "hero help", and Keene was available for the 1941-1942 series of eight. Later in 1942, the Rough Riders trio would end due to Tim McCoy's return to the military and Buck Jones' death in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire. The Range Busters would ride their last cinema trail in 1943. And then Bob Tansey brought out the Trail Blazers with Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson. Johnny Mack Brown came on board in the middle of 1943. And several years earlier, Jack Randall (Bob Livingston's brother) would begin and end his series, and there was the Renfrew of the Royal Mounted group with Jim Newill ... gads, my head spinneth !
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above is the title lobby card from WANDERERS OF THE WEST (Monogram, 1941), the first of eight films in Keene's second batch of oaters for Monogram. In the bottom left, Tom is roughing up Stanley Price. In the upper right are Tom Seidel, Betty Miles and Keene.
(Courtesy of Boyd Magers)
Above are Keene, his trusty horse Prince and young Donald Stewart in a lobby card from Keene's last starring B western, WHERE TRAILS END (Monogram, 1942). Note the fancy saddle. Prince is easy to spot - the horse has a small white splotch on the forehead, is dark brown, and the mane and tail are lighter in color. In his eight Monogram films in 1941-1942, Keene rode Rusty the Wonder Horse in his first four adventures. For his last four Monograms, Keene rode Prince. Prince was briefly ridden by Jack Randall and later, by Chief Thunder Cloud and Hoot Gibson in Monogram's Trail Blazers series.