Jun 26, 2018

Charles Starrett: Pre-War Bulge

Charles Starrett (1903-1986) was an action-adventure hero before there was such a thing.  He grew up in Athol, Massachusetts, where his grandfather's L.S. Starrett Tool Company was the main employer, and graduated from Ivy League Dartmouth.  But he wanted to become an actor, so he started out in Vaudeville, then moved to Hollywood just at the start of the talkie era.

 In 1935 he became a contract player for Columbia, generally a singing cowboy like Roy Rogers, with a backup group, Sons of the Pioneers.

Starrett made nearly 100 cowboy pictures for Columbia, ten in 1938 alone, when they were churned out as frequently as tv series today.

He introduced the character of  The Durango Kid in 1940, and began playing him regularly in 1945, churned out over 60 features during the next seven years.

In 1952 he retired from acting, and spent the rest of his life traveling as a goodwill ambassador for his grandfather's tool company.  He lived in Laguna Beach during the summer, and Borrego Springs during the winter.  In his later years, he often appeared at fan conventions.

He was married to Mary McKinnon from 1927 until his death, and had two children.  Probably heterosexual, but several gay connections:

1. Reputedly the Durango Kid plays up the homoerotic bandinage as he frees small town after small town from black-clad baddies.

2. Check out this scene from The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932).  Starrett's character is whipped by the villain.

Then tied to a table, naked except for a skimpy towel.

You won't see a bulge like that on film again for 30 years.

1 comment:

  1. Just before the Hays Code.

    Bulges were somewhat acceptable in the Code days, as were accidental "blink and you'll miss it" cock shots. (Nobody predicted digital media in the Code days.) You could get away with male nudity, but not female, in certain very limited contexts, mostly things like showering. (None of which are sexual.) More than anything, the BDSM subtext would be banworthy.


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