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 series, 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 has a nice role as 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 releases. In addition to McCoy and Keene, Monogram's other western film hero during that period was Jack Randall, the brother of Three Mesquiteers' star Bob Livingston.
(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.
(Image 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 (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.
Supposedly, Keene was the Mayor of Sherman Oaks, California around 1939, and he was 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 two 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 now 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. Keene's last Monogram --- and his finale as a B-western hero --- 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 that 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 apparently, Tom Keene was available for the 1941-1942 series of eight. Later in 1942, the Rough Riders series 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 Maynard and 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 series at Monogram. In the bottom left, Tom is roughing up Stanley Price. In the upper right are Tom Seidel, Betty Miles and Keene.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Tom Seidel, Nick Moro, youngster Sugar Dawn, Frank Yaconelli, Tom Keene, Hope Blackwood and Steve Clark in a lobby card from ARIZONA ROUNDUP (Monogram, 1942). Pretty Hope Blackwood was a rodeo performer and this was her solo film appearance.
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above from left to right are Tom Keene (as Richard Powers), Dale Evans and Arthur Loft in a 1955 re-release lobby card from the Roy Rogers' LIGHTS OF OLD SANTA FE (Republic, 1944). Crop/blowup below of Keene, Evans and Loft.
Scuttlebutt is that Keene then returned to the stage in California and New York ... and this was when he changed his name to Richard Powers. In the mid 1940s, he was back in Tinseltown, doing supporting roles wherever he could find work.
He wound up as a contract player at RKO, and you can spot him in a bunch of the Tim Holt westerns of that period. Some examples: Keene/Powers was the crooked Indian Agent in INDIAN AGENT (1948 RKO), one of the land grabbers in THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947 RKO), and the leader of the Tonto Rim gang in UNDER THE TONTO RIM (1947 RKO). And in the Holt WILD HORSE MESA (RKO, 1947), Keene/Powers meets his villainous end under the smashin' hooves of the mighty stallion leader of the hoss herd.
He starred (as Richard Powers) in the Republic chapterplay, DESPERADOES OF THE WEST (Republic, 1950). But he reverted to his Tom Keene moniker as one of the guest stars in the Roy Rogers' TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (Republic, 1950).
(From Old Corral image collection)
Above is a shot of most of the guest stars/heroes in the Roy Rogers Cinecolor TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (Republic, 1950).
Kneeling from L-to-R: Tom Keene, Roy Rogers, William Farnum.
Back Row from L-to-R: Tom Tyler, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan, Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Monte Hale, George Chesebro, Kermit Maynard.
Not pictured are Jack Holt and Rex Allen.
Keene/Powers continued to do some occasional film and TV work in the 1950s. Apparently, he became friendly with schlock director and film creator Ed Wood. Around 1953, Wood starred Keene in an unsold TV pilot titled CROSSROAD AVENGER - THE ADVENTURES OF THE TUCSON KID (with Keene, Lyle Talbot, Tom Tyler). His last film work included the portrayal of 'Colonel Tom Edwards' in the Bela Lugosi PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1958), and a cameo/guest role (as Tom Keene) in the western spoof ONCE UPON A HORSE (U-I, 1958), which starred the comedy duo of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin (of TV's LAUGH IN fame).
Keene retired in the late 1950s, and concentrated on real estate and insurance businesses. George Duryea/Tom Keene/Richard Powers passed away in 1963 of cancer. An obit mentions that his survivors were his wife Florence and a stepson, Robert Ramsey. You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral, and then check the California Death Records database. There, you will find a record for: Tom Keene, born 12/30/1896, and he passed away on 8/4/1963. There is a corresponding record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).
The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. With a few exceptions, the annual poll 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. Tom Keene never achieved a ranking in those polls.
As to Keene's importance in the overall scheme of things, he was simply another western hero who rode the range ... though his sagebrush work was more sporadic than many others. From a quantity perspective, he was the lead/star in more westerns than the likes of Sunset Carson, Eddie Dean, Whip Wilson, Lash LaRue, Jimmy Wakely, Monte Hale, and many others.
If you want to see Keene at his best, take a gander at THE PAINTED TRAIL and WHERE TRAILS DIVIDE, two solid Monogram oaters. And if you want to see how good RKO was at making westerns, try GHOST VALLEY, THE SADDLE BUSTER, SON OF THE BORDER and SCARLET RIVER, a quartet of Keene's early starrers. Speaking of RKO, most folks forget that Keene even did westerns for that company. Instead, they only recall the RKO hoss operas starring George O'Brien and Tim Holt.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Tom Keene: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0444740/
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for Tom Keene at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10030208
The Grave Hunter website has a small photo of the marker for Keene at Forest Lawn Glendale, California: http://www.gravehunter.net/tom_keene.htm
A larger image of the grave marker is at the Beneath Los Angeles website: http://www.beneathlosangeles.com/cgi/page.cgi?g=Detailed/426.html&ID=426
If you have a high speed cable or DSL connection, you can download or stream several Keene films from the Internet Archive website - the Ed Wood directed PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE as well as THE LAW COMMANDS (Crescent, 1937) and WESTERN MAIL (Monogram, 1942): http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=%22tom%20keene%22%20AND%20collection%3Amoviesandfilms
Bob Campbell and Victoria Balloon wrote a profile titled "The Three Faces of Cowboy Star Tom Keene" for the Movie Fanfare website: http://www.moviefanfare.com/fanfare-guests/cowboy-star-tom-keene/
and a slightly modified version of that article is on the Matinee At The Bijou website: http://matineeatthebijou.blogspot.com/2009/03/three-faces-of-tom-keene.html
Some info suggests the name change from Duryea to Tom Keene MAY have been influenced by the Tom Keene brand of cigars: