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(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Tim McCoy had been with Columbia Pictures for several years and 30+ pictures. Whether McCoy left on his own accord, or Columbia opted not to renew his contract is lost in Hollywood history. McCoy signed a deal with independent Puritan Pictures and his replacement at Columbia was Maynard. Ken was assigned to the production unit run by Larry Darmour, who was releasing his product via Columbia. There, he did a group of eight films released during 1935-1936.

Charles Starrett arrived at Columbia around this time, and his stay would be much, much longer than Maynard.

Maynard's first for Darmour and Columbia was WESTERN FRONTIER (Columbia, 1935) and is probably the best of the bunch. The storyline has Maynard and his sister (played by Nora Lane) separated as children during an Indian raid. Years later, Ken comes up against a gang run by a gal. Guess who? The director was Al Herman, who would later helm many screen adventures with singin' cowboy Tex Ritter.

The remaining seven weren't bad and all were directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet. One of my favorites is AVENGING WATERS (Columbia, 1936), which includes pretty heroine Beth Marion. Ward Bond is the villain out to control the local water supply. There's a dam in the picture ... can you imagine what happens based on the title? Another fun entry is WESTERN COURAGE (Columbia, 1935), with dude ranch foreman Ken taming headstrong Eastern gal Geneva Mitchell and keeping her from the clutches of a fortune hunter as well as a gang of rustlers.

When the Darmour/Columbia group ended in 1936, Ken Maynard was a tad over forty years of age and his time as a major western film hero was over.

A little background on producer Larry Darmour - before getting involved in westerns, Darmour did the long running 'Mickey McGuire' series of shorts starring Mickey Rooney. When Maynard left after eight films, Darmour tried Bob Allen in a half dozen. And Bob Allen's hoss and costume mimiced that of Maynard in order for Darmour to use stock footage from Ken's films. After Bob Allen, Darmour had Jack Luden do a quartet of oaters. It all settled down when Gordon Elliott - who would become 'Wild Bill' - began his series which were initially Darmour productions. Later, Darmour would be in charge of the Ellery Queen mysteries at Columbia. Larry Darmour passed away in 1942.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Wardell 'Ward' Bond versus Ken Maynard in a lobby card from WESTERN COURAGE (Columbia, 1935). Bond was part of Columbia's stable of baddies during the mid 1930s. Later, he'd do lots of films with director John Ford and John Wayne, and starred in the WAGON TRAIN TV show.

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - Beth Marion and Ken Maynard atop Tarzan from their days working for Producer Larry Darmour at Columbia in the mid 1930s. Beth autographed this photo for Minard Coons.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from L-to-R are Walter Miller (as "Flamer Willis"), Ken Maynard, Beth Marion and John Elliott in Maynard's THE FUGITIVE SHERIFF (Larry Darmour/Columbia, 1936).

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