Buddy Roosevelt

Active - 1924 - 1962  |   Born - Jun 25, 1898   |   Died - Oct 6, 1973   |   Genres - Western, Action, Drama

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

American silent screen cowboy Buddy Roosevelt came to Hollywood in 1914 with the C.B. Irwin Wild West Show. Working primarily as a stunt man in William S. Hart Westerns at Triangle, Roosevelt was earning 22 dollars a week plus board when World War I took him overseas. Working his way back to Hollywood after the Armistice, Roosevelt doubled Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik (1920), as well as William Desmond. Universal starred him as Kent Sanderson in the two-reeler Down in Texas (1923), but he somehow fell between the cracks at that studio, signing instead a personal contract with independent producer Lester F. Scott Jr. Scott didn't like the name Kent Sanderson and changed it to Buddy Roosevelt, in honor of former president Theodore Roosevelt. Making 25 fast-paced Westerns for Scott's Action Pictures, the former stunt man proved to be an acceptable actor who did not look the fool even with the heavy doses of comedy that Scott seemed to favor. Unfortunately, the Roosevelt budgets deteriorated as Scott brought Buffalo Bill Jr. and Wally Wales into the fold and Roosevelt bolted in January 1928, in favor of Rayart. With the veteran J.P. McGowan at the helm, Roosevelt continued to do strong work, but sound interrupted what could have been a career on the upswing. He was tested for the lead in the Fox Western In Old Arizona (1929), but a broken leg caused him to be replaced by Warner Baxter, who, of course, went on to earn an Academy Award for his role as the Cisco Kid. A chance to star in a new series reportedly went out the window when Mrs. Roosevelt, a cousin of Clark Gable, got into an argument with the producer, ex-stunt man Paul Malvern; John Wayne earned the berth instead and the rest, as they say, is history. There would be a few Western leads to come, but only for bottom-rung producers such as Jack Irwin and Victor Adamson. Roosevelt continued playing bits in Westerns through the early '60s, however; his final role -- a mere walk-on -- came in John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Retiring to his hometown in Colorado, Buddy Roosevelt kept up a correspondence with Western fans from around the world.

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