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(Courtesy of Melody Waters)

(Courtesy of Melody Waters)
Ozie Waters (and his Colorado Rangers) did musical support from about 1944-1950 in a dozen or more oaters - he worked with Charles Starrett at Columbia and William Boyd in the Hopalong Cassidy releases via United Artists.

I asked Melody Waters, Ozie's daughter, to put together a bio on her father.  Melody writes:

Ozie was born Vernon Scott Waters in Callaway County, Missouri on December 8, 1903.

At the age of 14, and standing 5' 11", he joined the Navy and was around the world by the time he was 19. He left the Navy standing 6' 3 1/2" tall and had already started his radio career in Hawaii.

He got the title 'Captain' when the Governor of Colorado commissioned him with the honorary title of 'Captain of the Colorado Rangers'.

He married Evangeline Baird and had three daughters who grew up singing with him --- Darlene, Melody and Gloria. Darlene made a picture for Walt Disney, SO DEAR TO MY HEART (1949), before they left Hollywood. Ozie Waters passed away from a heart attack on March 10, 1978.

In the photo left, William 'Hopalong Cassidy' Boyd was Ozie's guest on top of the carousel at Elitch Gardens in Denver, Colorado, circa 1950. 30,000 kids that were members of Ozie's Junior Ranger Club showed up.

There's more info on Vernon Scott "Ozie" Waters at:

In 2012, Ozie was inducted into the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame. However, the Colorado HOF website has no inductees for year 2012:

(Courtesy of Melody Waters)

Above is Ozie being tended by Charles Starrett in a scene from LANDRUSH (Columbia, 1946), one of the Durango Kid adventures.

(Courtesy of Melody Waters)

Above - Ozie is wearing the buckskins on the far left and guest Hoot Gibson is sitting at the desk during a break on Ozie's KBTV show, Denver, Colorado, circa 1954. In the top left of the photo, you can see where the wall ends on the set. The microphone is in the upper right. He had a Junior Ranger club on KBTV and there were 40,000 kids who were members and got an official card.

Tex Harding
(From Old Corral collection)

Above is Tex Harding (1918-1981) (real name: John Thye). He was the "singing sidekick" to Charles Starrett in about a half dozen Durango Kid escapades in the mid 1940s, and Harding also did a Durango in the late 1940s.

Harding's singing was probably dubbed and the real voice doing Tex's songs belonged to James T. 'Bud' Nelson (born January 28, 1914, Brooklyn, New York, passed away March 13, 1994, Las Vegas, Nevada). Nelson did appear onscreen in bit and background roles in several of the Durango Kid films.

Several folks have asked about the paint hoss ridden by Harding in those Durango Kids - it was horse trainer Ralph McCutcheon's Diablo, which in later years, became the primary mount used by Duncan Renaldo in his Cisco Kid films at United Artists as well as the Cisco Kid TV program. Gene Autry also used Diablo in THE STRAWBERRY ROAN (Columbia, 1948) and it was ridden by George J. Lewis in Autry's THE BIG SOMBRERO (Columbia, 1949). There's more on Diablo in the Trusty Steeds/Movie Horses section on the Old Corral.

Les Adams adds some trivia about Harding: Dorothy Dix, the leading lady to Ken Maynard in WHEELS OF DESTINY and DRUM TAPS, Gene Autry in GUNS AND GUITARS, Bob Steele in NEVADA BUCKAROO, and Buck Jones in SUNSET OF POWER was Tex Harding's sister. Must have been quite a gap in their ages as she made her last film in 1936 and his first was 1945.

The Family Search website (free), (subscription), Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and the death certificate provide more on Dorothy Thye (Dorothy Dix) and John Thye (Tex Harding):

  • 1920 census: living in Peoria, Illinois are 42 year old Carl M. Thye (born Denmark), his 39 year old wife Matilda J. (born Denmark), 11 year old daughter Marie L. (born Illinois), 9 year old daughter Dorothy M. (born Illinois), 1 year old son John K. (born Illinois), and a servant:
  • 1930 census: living in Los Angeles, California are 50 year old Carl J. M. Thye (born Denmark), his 47 year old wife Mathelde (born Denmark), 21 year old daughter Marie (born Illinois), 19 year old daughter Dorothy (born Illinois), and 12 year old son John (born Illinois):
    Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet: they own their home at 1545 Laurel Avenue, Los Angeles. Father Carl's occupation is "Proprietor - Meat Market".
  • 1940 census: 22 year old John Thye (born Illinois), his 28 year old sister Dorothy (born Illinois), 30 year old divorced sister Marie Lane and her 10 year old daughter Beverly are renting at 7922 Norton, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, California. John Thye is single; has two years of college; his occupation is "Butcher - Retail meat market", and in 1939, he worked 52 weeks and earned $1560.00. Dorothy is single; completed four years of high school; her occupation is "Designer - Millinery" and she reported no earnings in 1939:
    1940 census takers worksheet:
  • There's a record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for: John Thye, born January 4, 1918, passed away April, 1981, and his last residence was Spangle, Washington.
  • Death certificate: 63 year old John K. Thye passed away on April 28, 1981 at St. Luke's Memorial Hospital, Spokane, Washington. His residence was Spangle, Washington; he was married and wife was LaVon Lancaster; he was born January 4, 1918 in Illinois; parents were Carl J. M. Thye and Mathilda Sorensen; he was not a veteran; his occupation was "Meat Cutter - Supermarket". He passed away from respiratory arrest, cerebral metastasis, and also suffered from prostate cancer. Death certificate informant was LaVon Thye, Spangle, Washington. Thornhill and Langbahn Funeral Home (in Spokane) was in charge and cremation at Ball and Dodd Crematory.

(Courtesy of Belinda Kirkhuff)

Above is talented singin' cowgirl Mary Lee (real name: Mary Lee Wooters) (1924-1996) who did about a dozen westerns at Republic with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.  Prior to her Republic film work, Lee was a vocalist with the Ted Weems Orchestra. There's a profile on Mary Lee in the Heroines/Leading Ladies section on the Old Corral.

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Donnell Clyde 'Spade' Cooley (1910-1969) came into the limelight during the World War II years with a western swing band which had Tex Williams on vocal. Sidemen during these early years included Joaquin Murphey, Smokey Rogers, Cactus Soldi, Pedro DePaul and Deuce Spriggens. In the mid 1940s, Tex Williams left Cooley and took several musicians with him including Smokey Rogers. Cooley, who billed himself as the "King of Western Swing", formed another group, signed with RCA records and around 1948, hit the TV airwaves on station KTLA in Los Angeles with his own TV show (which was a "hit" and highly rated into the early 1950s). Cooley's style and popularity rivaled that of Bob Wills. Sadly, Cooley is remembered for the brutal beating and murder of his wife Ella Mae Evans in July, 1961 for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. His fourteen year old daughter witnessed the murder. A model prisoner, Cooley was performing at a benefit concert in 1969, and after concluding his performance, he passed away from a heart attack. Cooley worked in several dozen B-westerns, mostly doing musical bits. He also starred in three very low budget westerns circa 1950 and you'll find a profile on him in the Heroes section on the Old Corral.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the title lobby card from THE KID FROM GOWER GULCH (1950), one of a trio of starring westerns that Cooley did around 1950 - the others were BORDER OUTLAWS (1950) and THE SILVER BANDIT (1950). Pictured on the left is Bob Gilbert who also tried his hand (very briefly) as a cowboy film hero in RED ROCK OUTLAW (1950).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Deuce Spriggens, Tex Williams and Smokey Rogers. This talented trio were once members of the Spade Cooley organization, but after World War II, they came together in the new group 'Tex Williams and the Western Caravan'. The above image is from a pressbook to one of their late 1940s-early 1950s western featurettes (shorts) which starred Williams. There's a profile of Tex Williams in the Heroes section of the Old Corral.

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