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Elliott's two-gun rig

Elliott's two-gun rig, with stag-handled six guns, butts forward, is shown below, and is a crop from a Republic Red Ryder lobby card. The six-shooters appear to have a gold tinge, but that is incorrect and is caused by the color process used in creating the card.

Below is Elliott's gunbelt from his Columbia series with Tex Ritter. This crop is from the KING OF DODGE CITY lobby card which is displayed on a previous page. Appears to be the same as the above gunbelt and holsters that he used in the Red Ryder films. There's a bunch more photos and info on the Elliott gunbelt variations in the Gunbelt Trivia section on the Old Corral.

Bill Elliott's Salary and Contracts at Republic Pictures

Most of the info on the Old Corral about the contracts and salaries at Republic Pictures has been gleaned from Jack Mathis' excellent Republic Confidential, Volume 2, The Players (Jack Mathis Advertising, 1992), and I've given Jack credit in the Acknowledgements/Thanks page.  The Mathis book includes information on Bill Elliott's contractual agreements with Republic, and following are some highlights:

  • Elliott's contracts were all Picture Commitment agreements --- i.e., he signed to do x amount of pictures for y amount of money.
  • his initial contract was for one year for eight westerns at $2750 each, and the contract stipulated he would receive top billing.
  • for the cameo appearance in the Roy Rogers' BELLS OF ROSARITA (1945), Elliott received $2000.
  • he then signed two successive contracts for the Red Ryder westerns - the first contract was for eight westerns at $3750 each, followed by the second for eight at $4750 each.
  • the contracts excluded Elliott from appearing in any serials, and allowed him to provide his own mounts (and paying him the going rate charged by the rental stables).

(From Old Corral collection)

L-to-R standing in the top row are Wild Bill Elliott, Allan Lane and Sunset Carson. L-to-R kneeling are Bob Livingston (laughing), Roy Rogers, Don 'Red' Barry and Dale Evans. Lobby card from the Roy Rogers 'All-Star' western, BELLS OF ROSARITA (Republic, 1945).

(Courtesy of J. P. Fannie)
Above is Wild Bill Elliott comic #2, with our hero in his Red Ryder costume and riding Thunder.

(Courtesy of J. P. Fannie)
Above - issue #15

(Courtesy of Bill McCann)
Above, Elliott's last comic #643
Bill Elliott Comics

Thx to Lansing Sexton for the following info on the comic book series of Bill Elliott:

Everyone's favorite peaceable man made his first comics appearance in Dell publishing's Four Color anthology series with #278 (May 1950). The issue features him on the cover in a bright red shirt, gun drawn, and there is a photo back cover as well. For some reason the title just says 'Bill Elliott'.

As a separate series, Wild Bill Elliott #2 appeared a few months later (November 1950) and ran through #17 (June 1955). Every issue had a photo cover and numbers 2-10 have photo back covers as well. #2 shows Wild Bill on Thunder, dressed as Red Ryder.

In the midst of this modest run, Wild Bill appeared twice more in the Four Color series, both with photo covers front and back.

Meanwhile, in 1952, Dell's Giant series began a sub-series called Western Roundup (the first issue is dated June 1952). The covers featured head photos of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers with smaller shots of Johnny Mack Brown, Rex Allen and Wild Bill. These were fat comics, with many more pages than ordinary comics (most or all were 84 pages) selling for the high price of 25¢ each.

The first 14 issues had photo back covers as did #16 and #18. After #18 the photo covers ended, as did the Gene Autry stories. I am not sure how many after that had Wild Bill stories, but by #22 the contents had changed to TV westerns such as WAGON TRAIN and TALES OF WELLS FARGO.

Wild Bill's final appearance was in Four Color #643 (July 1955). Not a bad comic book career for Wild Bill, but not indicative of his standing as one of the best and most popular movie cowboys. The main reason for this discrepancy is, I think, one of timing. Even though Wild Bill was still making movies in the 1950s, the series Western was nearing its end.

If Western movie comics had become a staple in the late 1930s or early 1940s, Wild Bill might have had a much longer comics career. In those days, as now, superheroes were king. After the war, a temporary exhaustion of the superhero genre and increasing adult criticism of the effects of comics on children, among other factors, led to a greater interest in Westerns. However, for the cowboy series' stars the interest came a bit late. Eventually, many western comics featured TV westerns, and ultimately the superheroes came back with a vengeance.

Wild Bill's Horses

(From Old Corral collection)

Wild Bill Elliott raised quarter horses, and in his films at Columbia and first season at Republic, he rode a variety of paint horses named Sonny.  There's photos and info on many of the Sonny variations in the Trusty Steeds section on the Old Corral.  My understanding is that Monogram heroine and great horsewoman Betty Miles wound up acquiring one of the Sonny look-a-likes in the early 1940s.  In THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF WILD BILL HICKOK, the Columbia serial and first starring role for Elliott, he rode the famous paint horse named 'Dice' which was trained and owned by Ralph McCutcheon.

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

Above - Wild Bill, Sonny, and the custom truck to transport the trusty steed.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Elliott on Sonny during his first series at Republic Pictures in 1943 - 1944, and his sidekick was Gabby 'Gabby' Hayes.

(From Old Corral collection)

In the Red Ryder films, Elliott rode a black named Thunder.  Lynn and Shery Jespersen are horse breeders and fans of the Morgan horse. Shery sent the following tidbit to me: "Wild Bill Elliot purchased the Morgan, Andy Pershing 8390, from his breeder C. G Stevenson.  He was the horse THUNDER in the Red Ryder movies ... " from The Morgan Horse (official Morgan Breed Journal and magazine), February 1945, page 27.

It appears that the horse 'Thunder' that Bill Elliott owned and rode in the Red Ryder films was sold to Allan Lane in 1946 when he assumed the Red Ryder role.  In all probability, 'Thunder' then became Lane's horse Black Jack.  You can read more about this in the Elliott/Lane page in the Trusty Steeds section on the Old Corral.

The archives at the American Morgan Horse Association website has more info on "Anndy Pershing", the horse known as "Thunder" and "Black Jack" which was ridden (and owned) by Bill Elliott and Allan Lane:

(Courtesy of Brenda Anders)

Above - autographed photo of Elliott on his grey hoss during his later batch of films for Monogram / Allied Artists.

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