Charles "Buck" Jones

Active - 1920 - 1991  |   Born - Dec 4, 1889   |   Died - Nov 30, 1942   |   Genres - Western, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Born in Indiana, Charles "Buck" Jones was raised in Montana, where he trained himself to be an expert rider and roper. After serving in the U.S. Cavalry, he joined the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show as a trick rider, and later performed with the Ringling Bros. circus. Entering films as a stunt double in 1917, he was promoted to his own starring series at Fox Studios two years later. Appearing onscreen with his horse Silver, Jones quickly became one of the most popular Western stars of the 1920s. When Westerns went into a brief eclipse in the early talkie era, he was "demoted" to low-budget Columbia Pictures, where he continued appearing in high-grossing horse operas and occasional "straight" dramatic films until 1936. He then spent a few seasons at Universal as star, producer, and occasional director. At the peak of his popularity in the 1930s, when his Buck Jones Rangers club boasted five million youthful members, at one point he was receiving more fan mail than Clark Gable. When his career began slipping again in 1940, he signed with Monogram, where he co-starred with Tim McCoy and Raymond Hatton in the money-spinning Rough Riders series. On November 30, 1942, Jones was guest of honor at a party given by his producer/manager Scott R. Dunlap at the Cocoanut Grove night club in Boston when a fire broke out in the kitchen. According to some reports, Jones attempted to escape along with all the others when the fire spread to the main room; other sources claim that he valiantly insisted upon reentering the blazing inferno to rescue the guests still trapped inside. Whatever the circumstances, the end result was the same: Jones perished in the Cocoanut Grove fire along with nearly 500 others. Married to the same woman for 27 years, Buck Jones was the father of a daughter named Maxine, who married actor Noah Beery Jr.

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