American light leading man James Ellison was recruited from a stock company to appear in the forgotten 1932 film Play Girl. His biggest movie break was DeMille's The Plainsman (1936), in which he played Buffalo Bill Cody opposite Gary Cooper's Wild Bill Hickok and Jean Arthur's Calamity Jane. This sagebrush endeavor led to two seasons' work as "Johnny Nelson" in Paramount's Hopalong Cassidy western programmers. Ellison was one of the stalwarts of the "B" units at 20th Century-Fox and RKO during the 1940s; thereafter he free-lanced in such cost-conscious second features as Dead Man's Trail (1952) and Ghost Town (1956). After starring in the negligible 1963 Castro spoof When The Girls Take Over, James Ellison decided that the time was ripe to leave show business in favor of the lucrative world of real estate.