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(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is a lobby card from THE LAW RIDES AGAIN (Monogram, 1943, the second film in the Monogram Trail Blazers series. From left to right are Betty Miles, Hoot Gibson and Ken Maynard.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Bob Steele, Hoot Gibson and Ken Maynard, Monogram's Trail Blazers.  DEATH VALLEY RANGERS (Monogram, 1943) was the fourth entry in the Trail Blazers series and was Steele's debut as a member. Earlier, he had been 'Tucson Smith' in the Three Mesquiteers sagas, but Republic Pictures terminated that series in 1943.

His last fling came when Monogram Pictures' producer Robert Emmett 'Bob' Tansey united Maynard and Hoot Gibson in 1943. The Range Busters series ended in 1943 and Monogram needed something quick and cheap that would interest the theater owners and ticket buyers. Tansey coaxed Maynard and Gibson --- who were personal friends in real life --- to return to the silver screen. The new series would be called 'The Trail Blazers' with the pair playing veteran (meaning older) lawman. Older was the case, as Maynard was close to the half-century mark in age, having been born in 1895 (Hoot was a tad older, having been born in 1892).

Ken had grown more ornery and cantankerous --- plus, he wasn't pleased with his pay and he wasn't happy about one-time Universal hero Bob Baker, who played a lawman in the series kickoff, WILD HORSE STAMPEDE (Monogram, 1943). Baker didn't return in any of the subsequent films.

Maynard also objected to the addition of Bob Steele (born in 1907), who had just finished up the Three Mesquiteers series at Republic, and had been hired to add some young blood to the group. After six entries, Ken was gone. Monogram made two more Trail Blazers featuring Gibson and Steele. Replacing Maynard was Chief Thunder Cloud (Victor Daniels).

There was one more starring role for Ken - the mediocre HARMONY TRAIL (1944) for Walt Mattox Productions. Bob Tansey directed and the film included future singing cowboy Eddie Dean, Max Terhune and his dummy Elmer, and a very young Ruth Roman. HARMONY TRAIL was released by Astor in 1947 under the alternate title of WHITE STALLION.

Then Maynard was forgotten (along with lots of other cinema cowboys) because of the advent of television, sci-fi movies, and the fade of the B grade sagebrush adventure.

With his film career over, there wasn't much left for Ken to do. He did some circus/personal appearances as well as working at Ray 'Crash' Corrigan's Corriganville Movie Ranch. He also had a 15 minute syndicated radio show called TALES FROM THE DIAMOND K circa 1951, and I have several episodes in my piles of cassette tapes. Am unsure how many programs were done (sources mention around 37-39 episodes were made). In addition to the radio series, there was a TALES FROM THE DIAMOND K eight inch 78 rpm record, and occasionally, one of these red vinyl beauties pops up on the eBay auction site. I had one that I traded away some years ago - there's no date listed but the record label notes "Produced and Transcribed by Peterson, Schafer and Buck Agency, Inc., Hollywood 28, Cal." My understanding is that these were premiums that could be ordered by the kids who listened to the program. In 1950-1952, Fawcett published eight Ken Maynard Western comic books. There were also a couple TV guest appearances on shows highlighting nostalgia and the ol' western movies. Lastly, an elderly Ken Maynard made a couple of brief film appearances in BIGFOOT (1970) and MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW (1972). The missing/un-released WINDY HOLLOW film starred Sunset Carson.

Thanks to Ed Tabor who reminded me that Maynard also recorded some songs. Ed writes:

"On April 14, 1930, in Hollywood, California, Ken recorded 8 songs for Columbia Records. Only 2 were ever issued and sold poorly and are extremely rare. However, Ken preserved his test pressings of all eight and gave them to Jon Tuska who in turn gave them to the John Edwards Memorial Foundation at UCLA. The JEMF holdings were later transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and are now in the Wilson Library."

While I've never been a fan of Maynard's singing, I do have a 4-LP record set called Legendary Songs of the Old West which has a 1981 copyright date by CBS Records. There's one Maynard song in the album, Home on the Range, and the listing on the back of the box shows it as: Columbia unissued performance (mx W.149837-2), Los Angeles, 4/16/30.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Left is a pressbook ad for the first Trail Blazers film, WILD HORSE STAMPEDE (Monogram, 1943), and the ad proclaims "Two of the greatest cowboy heroes of all time join forces ...."

Notice that Ken Maynard is given the larger photo while Hoot Gibson is pictured in the smaller round photo inset on the right.

That's onetime Universal cowboy hero Bob Baker in the center, rearing on his trusty hoss, but not being billed.

(From Old Corral collection)

Ken Maynard (left) was still carrying a pair of sixguns, former Universal cowboy hero Bob Baker is in the middle, and Hoot Gibson is on the right in the first Trail Blazers' film, WILD HORSE STAMPEDE (1943). In most of these films, Hoot tucked his six-gun in the waist of his pants or in his boot, instead of wearing a traditional gun belt that's shown in this photo.  Compare the two-gun stance of Maynard in this photo ... and then look at the pressbook ad above --- same image.

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from L-to-R are Hoot Gibson riding Rusty, the Wonder Horse, Betty Miles atop her steed Sonny, and Ken Maynard on the white Tarzan II from one of the early entries in Monogram's Trail Blazers series (prior to Bob Steele joining the group).

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

Above is a lobby card from the missing/un-released MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW (1972), with Wild Bill Cody on the left, Maynard in the center and star Sunset Carson on the right. There's a lot more details about this film in the Old Corral section "Sunset, Ken & Tex in the MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW".

(Courtesy of Jerry Whittington)

Above - a bearded Ken Maynard - with his customary cigar - chats with a newspaper reporter while working on MARSHAL OF WINDY HOLLOW (1972). Maynard shaved off the beard for his role as a lawman in the film.

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