The last of the B-Western cowboys. That’s not much of a distinction. But for Wayne Morris, that’s pretty much his place in Hollywood history.
His Two Guns And A Badge (1954, Allied Artists) is often held up as the absolute last true B Western. Republic’s last series Western, Rex Allen in The Phantom Stallion, was released earlier that year.
But there was another cowboy star who may have hung up his guns a bit later — Johnny Carpenter. His super-cheap self-produced pictures — such as The Lawless Rider (1954, directed by Yakima Canutt) and I Killed Wild Bill Hickok (1956) — carried the torch a while longer. Read up on Johnny sometime. He’s got quite a story.
Oh, but back to Wayne Morris. He was one of the first to leave Hollywood to fight in World War II, eventually flying an F6F Hellcat off the USS Essex (below).
After the war, he never could regain his career’s momentum — and found himself in Poverty Row cowboy movies. After his B-Western days were over, Morris continued acting in character roles. He’s got a sizable part in Riding Shotgun (1954) with Randolph Scott. And he’s excellent in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory (1957). His wife, Olympic swimmer Patricia O’Rourke, was the sister of Republic star Peggy Stewart.