When American actor Paul Hurst became the comedy sidekick in the Monte Hale western series at Republic in the early '50s, he came by the work naturally; he had been born and bred on California's Miller and Lux Ranch. While in his teens, Hurst attained his first theatre job as a scenery painter in San Francisco, making his on-stage debut at age 19. In 1911, Hurst ventured into western films, wearing three hats as a writer, director and actor. He worked ceaselessly in character roles throughout the '20s, '30s and '40s, most often in comedy parts as dim-witted police officers and muscle-headed athletes. He also showed up in leading roles in 2-reelers, notably as a punchdrunk trainer in Columbia's Glove Slingers series. On at least two memorable occasions, Hurst eschewed comedy for villainy: in 1943's The Ox-Bow Incident, he's the lynch-mob member who ghoulishly reminds the victims what's in store for them by grabbing his collar and making choking sounds. And in Gone with the Wind, Hurst is Hell personified as the Yankee deserter and would-be rapist whom Scarlet O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) shoots in the face at point blank range. Paul Hurst kept busy into the early '50s; at the age of 65, he ended his career and his life in suicide.
by Hal Erickson biography