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(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Note the mention of "Bob Custer Productions, Inc." at the bottom of the poster for THE FIGHTING HOMBRE (FBO, 1927). The Custer silents that were released by FBO came from Jesse J. Goldburg's Independent Pictures Corporation. During this same period, Goldburg also did westerns/outdoor adventures starring Bill Cody and Franklyn Farnum.

Film Booking Office (FBO) was a prolific little production and distribution company of the late silent era, and was the forerunner of RKO. In the later part of the 1920s, President John F. Kennedy's father Joe Kennedy ran the business, and FBO was responsible for scores of silent sagebrushers starring Bob Steele, Tom Tyler, teenager Buzz Barton ... even Tom Mix did a few for FBO in 1928.

Raymond Anthony Glenn became a member of FBO's stable of cowboy heroes and given the screen name of "Bob Custer". That name change wasn't unique to Glenn/Custer as FBO did it with several others including Robert Adrian Bradbury (who became FBO's Bob Steele) and Vincent Markowski (who became FBO's Tom Tyler). The many Custer FBO oaters were churned out by Jesse James Goldburg's Independent Pictures Corporation and FBO handled the releasing. In addition to the Custer westerns, Goldburg also did series starring Franklyn Farnum and Bill Cody. At least one of Custer's FBO silents survive - NO MAN'S LAW (FBO, 1925). Directors on the Goldburg/FBO Custers included B. Reeves "Breezy" Eason and Jack Nelson (the father of youngster Bobby Nelson who did some sound westerns).

Circa 1927, and billed as Raymond Glenn, Custer took some time off from his regular sagebrush adventures and did three for Chadwick Pictures Corporation - included was THE RETURN OF BOSTON BLACKIE (Chadwick, 1927) with Glenn in the lead and help provided by Strongheart the Dog. In the other two, Custer had support roles.

After about two dozen for FBO and Goldburg, Custer signed on with Syndicate. W. Ray Johnston was the founder of low budget Syndicate Pictures and Syndicate Film Exchange as well as Rayart (which became Continental Talking Pictures at the beginning of the sound era). Ultimately, Johnston's creations became Monogram Pictures of the early 1930s, and that firm was part of the 1935 merger/consolidation that formed Republic Pictures.

Under the Syndicate brand, Custer labored for several years, doing about twenty programmer westerns that were silents, silents with musical scores, and full-fledged talkies. Most were helmed by prolific producer/director and part time actor J. P. McGowan. As best I can determine, four were issued with full sound and dialog. Custer's first Syndicate feature was released in 1928, and his Syndicate finale occurred in 1931. Several of these are available on DVD and videotape, including the silents ARIZONA DAYS (Syndicate, 1928), MANHATTAN COWBOY (Syndicate, 1928) and THE LAST ROUNDUP (Syndicate, 1929).

There were several other things popping at Syndicate. In 1929, two former FBO cowboy stars arrived - Bob Steele and Tom Tyler. Steele would do ten silents during 1929 - 1930, all with McGowan at the helm. Tyler did eleven releases from 1929 - 1931. Most were silents and McGowan was in charge of all.

[Footnote about Custer's FBO and Syndicate films circa 1928-1929: I remain confused on exactly what was occurring with Custer during that approximate two-year period. If film release dates are correct, he was doing Syndicate films in 1928-1929 and some FBO Custers were also released during that time. Was he working at both places? Doubtful on this - the FBO films were probably already lensed but not released until after Custer signed on with Syndicate. Or the release dates shown for some of these films are just plain incorrect.]

1926 trade ad.

(Courtesy of Ed Tabor)

In the late 1920s, FBO's range riders included Tom Tyler, Bob Steele, Buzz Barton, a short visit from Tom Mix ... and Bob Custer. Above is the title lobby card from Custer's THE RIDING STREAK (FBO, 1927). This was produced by Jesse J. Goldburg's Independent Pictures company and released by FBO.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Bob Custer is on the right and a youngish Hank Bell is on the left in this lobby card from THE LAST ROUNDUP (Syndicate, 1929). The galoot in the prone position may be Cliff Lyons.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from Left to right are Bud Osborne, Cliff Lyons, Custer and unidentified player (may be Tom/Tommy Bay) in a scene from the silent CODE OF THE WEST (Syndicate, 1929).

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