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Serial Report
    - Chapter Sixty-Nine
    - Chapter Sixty-Eight
    - Chapter Sixty-Seven
    - Chapter Sixty-Six
    - Chapter Sixty-Five
    - Chapter Sixty-Four
    - Chapter Sixty-Three
    - Chapter Sixty-Two
    - Chapter Sixty-One
    - Chapter Sixty
    - Chapter Fifty-Nine
    - Chapter Fifty-Eight
    - Chapter Fifty-Seven
    - Chapter Fifty-Six
    - Chapter Fifty-Five
    - Chapter Fifty-Four
    - Chapter Fifty-Three
    - Chapter Fifty-Two
    - Chapter Fifty-One
    - Chapter Fifty
    - Chapter Forty-Nine
    - Chapter Forty-Eight
    - Chapter Forty-Seven
    - Chapter Forty-Six
    - Chapter Forty-Five
    - Chapter Forty-Four
    - Chapter Forty-Three
    - Chapter Forty-Two
    - Chapter Forty-One
    - Chapter Forty
    - Chapter Thirty-Nine
    - Chapter Thirty-Eight
    - Chapter Thirty-Seven
    - Chapter Thirty-Six
    - Chapter Thirty-Five
    - Chapter Thirty-Four
    - Chapter Thirty-Three
    - Chapter Thirty-Two
    - Chapter Thirty-One
    - Chapter Thirty
    - Chapter Twenty-Nine
    - Chapter Twenty-Eight
    - Chapter Twenty-Seven
    - Chapter Twenty-Six
    - Chapter Twenty-Five
    - Chapter Twenty-Four
    - Chapter Twenty-Three
    - Chapter Twenty-Two
    - Chapter Twenty-One
    - Chapter Twenty
    - Chapter Nineteen
    - Chapter Eighteen
    - Chapter Seventeen
    - Chapter Sixteen
    - Chapter Fifteen
    - Chapter Fourteen
    - Chapter Thirteen
    - Chapter Twelve
    - Chapter Eleven
    - Chapter Ten
    - Chapter Nine
    - Chapter Eight
    - Chapter Seven
    - Chapter Six
    - Chapter Five
    - Chapter Four
    - Chapter Three
    - Chapter Two
    - Chapter One

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Chapter Fifty-One

Serial Heroines by Boyd Magers

Don Barry and Vivian Coe in Republic's action-packed "Adventures of Red Ryder" serial ('40).Vivian Coe (aka Vivian Austin) was Miss Los Angeles and Miss Hollywood after being born in Hollywood. The talented actress/dancer/singer landed a contract with WB in the ‘30s while still a teenager and appeared in many bit roles. She married millionaire playboy and auto dealer Glenn Austin at 17. As he was a polo player, she learned to ride, preparing her for her leading lady role in Don Barry’s “Adventures of Red Ryder” serial (‘40). Tommy Cook, Little Beaver in “Adventures of Red Ryder”, remembers Vivian as “a lovely Earl Carroll debutante, a dancer at his showcase on Sunset Blvd. and Gower, very attractive and she was a good friend of my mom’s, Fern Cook, who lived to be 101. I was only 10 years old, so my mom had to be there with me. She and Vivian had a very nice friendship. My mom was one of the good stage mothers.” Vivian nearly died of kidney failure in the late ‘40s followed by debilitating eye problems causing blindness. Her husband died in ‘67 and she met Dr. Ken Grow, a Palm Springs doctor, who was able to restore some of her sight. They were eventually married, but he died in ‘93. The valiant Vivian carried on, always with an optimistic outlook, but eventually, at 84, died of natural causes August 1, 2004, in an L.A. hospital.

Linda Stirling Interview by Boyd Magers.

Linda Stirling is considered the last of the great ‘Serial Queens’, appearing in six of Republic’s best cliffhangers from ‘44-‘46.

Modeling led to Republic and the title role in “Tiger Woman”. “I was the last person in the world for that part. I’m not an outdoor girl, I couldn’t ride…my idea of fun was to go to nightclubs and dance. But I looked sort of like an outdoor girl and Republic needed someone right away for ‘Tiger Woman’. The part had
been given to Kay Aldridge, but just before it was time for the film to start, she eloped, got married and didn’t want to come back. They were desperate and I got the part. Yates had me come out for an interview. There were about 10 people at the interview—turned out half of them were stuntmen because they wanted to know if I could do a running dismount…I didn’t even know what it was! (Laughs) Very dutifully, being a good actress, I lied and said, ‘Oh yes, I can do that.’ And I couldn’t do any of the things they were asking if I could do. They asked me to wait outside for a few mintues. Then the director, Spence Bennet, came out and said, ‘We’d like to see you next Monday. Wear some old jeans (which I didn’t even own) and we wanna see you riding a horse—do the running mounts…’ I went, ‘Uh-oh. I just got myself into a real bad situation.’ Well, one fellow I’d met had a horse at Ace Hudkins Stable. I called him and said, ‘What am I gonna do?’ He said, ‘Ace has a lot of movie horses…maybe he can give you some pointers.’ He called Ace and called me back, ‘Go out at 6 in the morning.’ Well, I hadn’t been up at 6 in the morning in many years…if ever! (Laughs) I staggered out there and told them, ‘I have to do a running mount, running dismount…but I have to tell you I’ve only been on a horse two times in my life. Both times I fell off.’ Well, we practiced in the ring Thursday and Friday—by Saturday my legs were going in two different directions, I couldn’t walk very well. I had a big hole in the back of my spine where the saddle had rubbed because I didn’t know how to ride properly. But, Monday I went out to Republic. I thought, ‘I haven’t studied all these years and wanted to be an actress for so long…just to muff this because I haven’t got the courage to give it a try.’ They promised they’d send me the horse I’d been practicing on for four days and the wrangler who knew my problems. When I got there they had me go way down to the end of the western street. I was to come galloping around, come to the Duchess’ Ranch, which was a standing set with a little picket fence; I was to come to a running dismount and then jump over the picket fence, go to the door, come back, get back on the horse and gallop off. Well, I got back there—it wasn’t the horse or wrangler I’d been practicing with! The A.D. gave me the signal and the wrangler hit the horse so hard that when he came whirling around the corner, my feet fell out of the stirrups. I came galloping down the street, bumping up and down and the horse was
Capturing Linda Stirling as "The Tiger Woman", George J. Lewis pulls his gun as an arrow strikes a tree. headed right for this huge mob of people including ‘Papa’ Yates…I thought, ‘I’m gonna kill ‘em all off.’ I just closed my eyes and throught, ‘On, this is horrible.’ Well, the horse knew better, he just swirled around in front of the Duchess’ Ranch. I didn’t do a running dismount. I was sort of hanging around the horse’s neck, upside down! I thought, ‘I’ve made a fool of myself. I might as well hang my head and leave.’ I got down and was laughing because it was such a completely unlikely situation for me to be in. I started to leave but they stopped me and said, ‘Try it one more time.’ So I did. This time I stayed in the stirrups, got around, got off and to the picket fence but at that point I was finished. I couldn’t even jump over that foot high fence. (Laughs) I said, ‘I surrender.’ And I left. But by the time I got home my phone was ringing and my agent said, ‘You got the part. They liked your humor and attitude.’ They felt I had a lot of guts to try it, so they were gonna take a chance. Later I found out they were in a terrible bind. I came closest to matching the doubles of anyone they’d seen. They had costumes all ready and I was the closest to Kay who was originally supposed to play the part. So that’s the series of events that led to me standing out there (filming ‘Tiger Woman’) in that skimpy costume in the coldest winter they’d had in California in many, many years. Thre was ice on the ground and it was supposed to be the jungle. I was freezing. Our teeth were chattering. When you watch ‘Tiger Woman’, notice the funny smile on my face. The only way I could keep my lips from trembling was to paste this little smile on…it got stuck. (Laughs)”

Obviously, making serials was hard work. “We generally did the serials in a month. There was always pressure because all the shooting had to be done before dark. It wasn’t galmorous, believe me! Working hours were long. I was often up at 4am and at the studio by 4:30 for makeup. My hair had to be set and dried each monring so it would exactly match the film already shot. We had to be ready for the first take at 8am sharp, and it generally took about an hour to get to location. We seldom got back to the studio before 8pm. I never seemed to get to bed before 11 or midnight. Then up at 4. I was so tired during a fight sequence aboard a spaceship in ‘Purple Monster Strikes’ that when I was supposed to be knocked out while a fight went on, I fell asleep. But Republic was like a big family.”

Roy Barcroft as the evil Captain Mephisto traps Linda Stirling in a fishing net as Kenne Duncan prepares to lower our heroine into the water below in "Manhunt of Mystery Island" ('44 Republic).Linda experienced at least one dangerous ‘close call’ in her career. “We were on the process stage making ‘Manhunt of Mystery Island.’ In those days, they’d have the process screen behind us moving and we were standing still. It was supposed to be over this huge gorge, miles down. The cameras were set, it was the take-out for the chapter ending. The evil guy was cutting the ropes. The leading man, Richard Bailey, was beside me. But, as I turned around, it was Tom Steele standing next to me. All of a sudden they said, ‘Action,’ and Tommy said, ‘Stay with me, let me get under you’…all this is being whispered while we are falling about 10 feet to the ground. I’m sure I would have hurt myself if he hadn’t protected me. Tommy got up and started to charge the director—Spence Bennet—I thought Tom was gonna get him. He was so mad…he was livid. He said, ‘You coulda killed her. She doesn’t know how to do this kinda thing.’ He was really angry. It was a kind of silly thing for them to do, but we got late, hurried. Spence Bennet was busy jumping up and down, which he loved to do when he was upset, and wasn’t paying any attention. They just forgot to send the double up.”
 
Stuntlady Babe De Freest doubled Linda in practically everything. “In ‘Zorro’s Black Whip’ there was one stunt they didn’t want Babe to do, a jump from the top of the barn onto a horse as it was galloping by. They thought it was too difficult. So they told Joe (Yrigoyen) to do it; which he did, and fell off the horse and broke his leg. They put his brother Bill (Yrigoyen) there, he missed and ended up in the tree. Babe said, ‘Why don’t you let me do it?’ They weren’t sure, but she did it perfectly. It was a very successful stunt. She was must shorter than I, stockier, but she’s incredible as a double. There were times when we saw the rushes, we would argue about which one of us it was. Most of the time we couldn’t tell. She was amazing.”

Linda Stirling--sans mask--in "Zorro's Black Whip" ('44 Republic).Duncan Renaldo worked with Linda in “Tiger Woman”. “Duncan was a sweetheart and one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. Stories all the time. Sometimes he’d be finishing the tag line as we were walking up to shoot the scene. (Laughs) He was irrepressible. He was already part of moive history and knew practically everybody in the business. I really was an eager little actress dying to do it right. Duncan and George J. Lewis were very helpful. They were showing me where the camera was because I had no idea. ‘Don’t look there…look over here…they won’t see your face, they’ll see your profile.’”

Over the years, much has been said and written about Allan Lane’s demeanor. Some say he could be difficult. Linda co-starred with him in “Tiger Woman” and chuckles, “Difficult isn’t exactly a fair word. He was very tense, very uptight, very eager and very professional. I think one of his problems was, he wanted to be perfect. But under the conditions we were working, you can’t really be perfect. You can always do it better. The only thing you had to watch out for was his moves. Because once the camera started rolling, he wanted to be in front of the camera. And if you were too close to him, you just got bumped, so he could get the whole face—and I’d wind up with only my shoulder or part of my head showing. Time and time again, the director would say, ‘Cut! Allan, move over, give her some room.’ But he’d keep edging over. My hips would be black and blue. (Laughs)”

Linda did two serials with Clayton Moore, “Crimson Ghost” and “Jesse James Rides Again”. “Clayton was very professional, very serious when he was working, very relaxed and cool when he wasn’t. He didn’t clown around a lot when he was getting ready to do a scene. Afterwards okay…and earlier. But when he was working he gave his all, lots of energy, lots of vitality.”
Perennial heavy, Roy Barcroft was a constant for everyone who worked at Republic. “He loved to act. He really enjoyed it. He probably spent more time at the studio than he did at home. I never could tell if he was serious of if he wasn’t. He had this twinkle in his eye and would say things that sounded alright to me, but I had a feeling he meant more than he was saying. But I never could figure out what! He was fun.”

Rex Lease and Clayton Moore restrain Linda Stirling as "The Crimson Ghost" prepares a lethal injection. ('46 Republic).

 

Serial Heavies by Boyd Magers

Rusty Wescoatt

Robert Lowery as Batman watches as three hoods--House Peters Jr., Rusty Wescoatt, Lee Roberts--divy up some dough in Columbia's "Batman and Robin" serial ('49).

Born in Hawaii, August 2, 1911, Norman (Rusty) Wescoatt held three world records as a swimmer and was a professional football player and wrestler before coming to films in 1947 as a member of Columbia serial producer Sam Katzman’s group of stock players. The big, burly Wescoatt regularly got roughed up by smaller adversaries in 16 Columbia serials beginning with “The Vigilante” in 1947. Rusty’s also in “Sea Hound” (‘47), “Superman” (‘48), “Tex Granger” (‘48), “Congo Bill” (‘48), “Batman and Robin” (‘49), “Adventures of Sir Galahad” (‘49), “Cody of the Pony Express” (‘50), “Pirates of the High Seas” (‘50), “Atom Man Vs. Superman” (‘50), “Roar of the Iron Horse” (‘51), “Mysterious Island” (‘51), “Captain Video” (‘51), “King of the Congo” (‘52), “Riding with Buffalo Bill” (‘54) and “Perils of the Wilderness” (‘56).

Wescoatt also worked for Katzman in several Jungle Jim thrillers; “When the Redskins Rode” (‘51) and “Brave Warrior” (‘52). Following his serial days, Rusty was seen regularly on TVers such as “Kit Carson”, “Gene Autry”, “Wild Bill Hickok”, “Hopalong Cassidy”, “Roy Rogers”, “Sky King” and “Tales of the Texas Rangers”.

Rusty Wescoatt as Singapore Manson threatens Black Mike (Stanley Blystone) as their boss, The Admiral (Robert Barron, looks on in Ch. 5 of "The Sea Hound" ('47 Columbia).

Towards the end of his time in Hollywood, Rusty snagged two semi-regular roles…as the bartender on Robert Culp’s “Trackdown” (‘57-‘59) and as the slightly crafty but somewhat dimwitted Sgt. Holcomb on “Perry Mason”. Rusty left the business in ‘65 and died September 3, 1987.

Rusty Wescoatt and Jack Ingram restrain Lois Lane (Noel Neill) as they grab her camera in Columbia's "Atom Man Vs. Superman" ('50).

 

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